Mindfulness-based pain management

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Mindfulness treatments can teach you to become more aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations at the moment they occur without reacting out of habit or on “autopilot”. Once you master this skill, you can choose how to respond to the experience so you can enjoy life, even in difficult times.

Mindfulness approaches are based on learning to accept our experiences and become less reactive to them. By accepting how you feel, you can learn to cope with your pain in new and unexpected ways.

Here are some mindfulness exercises that you can try.

Raisin exercise

  1. Pick up a raisin.
  2. Bring your attention to seeing the raisin and study it as if you have never seen one before.
  3. Notice how the raisin feels between your fingers: its colour, its ridges and how the light bounces off the surfaces.
  4. Notice your thoughts, feelings, likes or dislikes in response to what you see.
  5. Smell the raisin.
  6. Touch your lips with the raisin.
  7. Notice the sensations in your arm and hand and on your lips. Also notice your thoughts and expectations.
  8. Place the raisin in your mouth.
  9. Notice how the raisin feels and taste it without biting down.
  10. Bite into the raisin and again notice how it feels and tastes. Do the same when you prepare to swallow the raisin.

Breathing

When you start doing this exercise, set yourself a brief period of time (two or three minutes). As you gain practice, you can extend the exercise to 15 or 20 minutes. It's a good idea to do the exercise for the first few times when you are feeling neutral and not in much distress. Once you gain practice, you can begin using it when your pain or distress is higher.

  1. Breathe from your stomach.
  2. Focus your attention on some part of the breath: your nostrils, the back of the nose, your chest or your abdomen.
  3. Notice where your mind goes and observe these thoughts and feelings.
  4. You may be distracted by things happening in your body (such as pain), in the room around you or in your mind. This is completely normal.
  5. Bring your attention gently back to your breath and your focus point. You may need to bring your attention back a few times as you get used to this exercise. This is ok.
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Last updated: May 2nd 2016