Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Pain Physiotherapy
By: Kayla Wright
Pain is no secret to those who have been in a motor vehicle accident and are dealing with severe pain, chronic pain, aside from the prescribed medications, many have been searching for an alternative form of relief and have discovered physiotherapy and mind and body techniques to be an activity that may provide added relief. As of 2011, 47% of Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain, most of which, have been prescribed medication to help eliminate or decrease symptoms; while these medications do often help it is estimated that nearly 58% of those with chronic pain find no relief.
Those who suffer from chronic pain and injury often deal with a substantial decrease in quality of life, leaving feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, and worry to surface. Though research and understanding of chronic pain is limited, many report that physiotherapy and mind and body techniques have increased their quality of life in many ways. Such as, decreasing insomnia due to their ability to relax more fully, lowering high blood pressure, and decrease the amount of muscle tension.
Mindfulness meditation, a mind and body technique, is gaining a reputation for not only providing relief, but also holds the potential to stimulate a simple healing to occur within our beings, as if by nature; providing mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being to thrive once again.
The “Technique” of Mindful Meditation: Mindfulness mediation is about learning and experiencing the moment in which we find ourselves. A place to relax and rejuvenate oneself, remember this. Many seem to think that meditation requires full-focused concentration, attention, and technique, yet this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
It is about finding what works for the self.
There are two things that reap the many benefits (benefits http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/) of mindful meditation:
- Persistence: Making meditation a daily part of life increases its capabilities and benefits on overall health. As meditation becomes a daily practice, relaxation floods the body and the bodies tolerance to pain experienced becomes greater. Here is a study that shows how a daily practice of meditation can provide relief and benefits more thoroughly than just practicing it once or twice. (http://sites.duke.edu/greesonlab/files/2011/07/Rosenzweig_Greeson_etal_2010_JPR-MBSR-outcomes-chronic-pain.pdf)
- Acceptance: Many become disheartened during meditation because they find their mind This is silly to fight. Remember, meditation is not a task to be completed, but a thing to learn and experience. There will be days you find your mind focused on pain or other distracting aspects of your life, this only gives you ample time to discover ways through it. Accepting that all minds wander is key to enjoying a successful meditative practice.
How to Get Started with Meditation:
I suggest finding a quiet spot that is comfortable, relaxing, and undisturbed. This gives the body and mind the ability to focus on itself, rather than hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Then, simply sit or lie in a position that will remain comfortable throughout the entire session. A comfortable posture will provide the mind the ability to concentrate on what is most important, healing the body.
Once a place and posture has been found, create a personal focus point. This can be counting breathes, staring at a specific point, or, perhaps an object. A focus point allows the mind to be drawn back to relaxation as it slowly wanders off; as it so willingly will.
Lastly, remain open-minded to the stimuli that is experienced, whether it be through thoughts or sensations. Just allow the thoughts of the mind to come and go, without judgment.
This is a basic start to a body/mind technique, as it is practiced don’t be afraid to adapt and change certain aspects to fit your individual and personal needs. As your personal, daily practice of meditation grows, so will your abilities, and you will find that mindfulness meditation is more personal, providing you with the strength and vitality you’ve been searching for.
How it changes the brain:
Though meditation and mindful activities are often tied to providing peace and relaxation, they also provide cognitive and psychological benefits that occur throughout the day; that’s right, even after meditation is over!
In a study conducted at Harvard, the neuroscience department conducted an eight week mindfulness mediation program and observed their findings through an MRI brain scan before and after the trial program. (Link http://www.psyn-journal.com/article/S0925-4927%2810%2900288-X/abstract)
Their findings, after the eight weeks of mindfulness meditation had been completed, was outstanding. Researchers concluded that the brains plasticity and gray matter(definition is here http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/gray+matter) increased in significant parts of the brain such as (but not limited to), the cerebellum, the left hippocampus, and the temporo-parietal junction; or an increase in the regions that control personal development of emotion regulation, memory retention, sense of self, and cognitive learning!
Though many suffer from chronic pain via motor-vehicle accidents, those who don’t, will also find that the affects of mindfulness meditation and physiotherapy techniques can influence their quality of life to substantial increase. These techniques offer sensational experiences that may influence the mind and body to heal itself while creating a space of personal relaxation. Chronic pain can be a major ailment in many peoples lives, but through the combination of medical treatment, physiotherapy, and other mind and body techniques, relief may be just around the corner.
- https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm University of North Carolina at Charlotte, “Brief Training In Meditation May Help Manage Pain, Study Shows,” ScienceDaily, (2009, November 10).