Meditation can help with coping and pain relief. This technique works best if practiced every day for 20 minutes. Here I will review how to do this meditation for pain relief exercise including 10 easy steps that you can practice every day to relieve pain and a description of what you can expect when you do this meditation.
Find a quiet place with minimal distractions where you can be undisturbed for 20 minutes.
Get into a comfortable position, such as sitting in a firm but comfortable chair with feet flat on the floor, legs and arms uncrossed, and hands in the lap or at the sides.
Meditation for Pain Relief Technique in 10 Steps:
1. Calm breathing
2. Passive awareness
3. Body scan
4. Noticing and accepting
5. Focus on breaths
6. Repeat a meaningful phrase
7. Noticing and accepting
8. Passive awareness
9. Calm breathing
10. Brief stretch
For a 20-minute meditation session, each step will take about 2 minutes, but it is fine to spend more time on some steps than on others according to your preferences. There is no right or wrong way to meditate; what is most important is to keep a passive attitude, simply allowing and observing without trying to make anything happen (Raudebaugh 2010). Go through each of these steps in order to do the full meditation for pain relief exercise.
1. Calm breathing – breathe slowly in and slowly out. Observe each breath and allow your breathing to become deep, slow, and calm.
2. Passive awareness – become aware of everything perceived by the senses by noticing one thing at a time. Notice one sound you can hear. Notice how your clothing feels against your skin. Notice your breaths. Notice your pain. Observe without trying to change anything.
3. Body scan – concentrate your attention on one area of your body at a time, starting at the tips of your toes, and moving your focus slowly upward all the way to the top of your head. Observe without trying to change how your body feels.
4. Noticing and accepting – observe your thoughts without trying to make any changes. Accept each thought that arises and allow it to move on.
5. Focus on breaths – concentrate on your breathing. Observe each breath as it enters and leaves the body.
6. Repeat a meaningful phrase – choose a phrase that is meaningful to you and repeat it with each breath in, and with each breath out. Every time your mind wanders, focus again on repeating the phrase.
7. Noticing and accepting – observe your thoughts without trying to make any changes. Accept each thought that arises and allow it to move on.
8. Passive awareness – become aware of everything perceived by the senses by noticing one thing at a time. Observe without trying to change anything.
9. Calm breathing – breathe slowly in and slowly out. Observe each breath and allow your breathing to become deep, slow, and calm.
10. Brief stretch – open your eyes. Stretch your muscles. Take a moment to reflect on the meditation experience.
What to Expect
During and after the meditation for pain relief session you will probably feel calm and relaxed, and your mood may improve. Your pain is likely to be less upsetting, less noticeable, and easier to tolerate.
With practice you will become more and more skilled at meditating and more easily enter a relaxed, focused state of mind. After just a few days you might start to notice improvements in concentration, memory, sleep, and coping.
As your skills improve further, it is possible to develop the ability to directly eliminate pain through meditating (Morone et al. 2008). Meditation can allow you to become happier, experience reduced pain, and have an overall better quality of life.
Morone N.E., Lynch C.S., Greco C.M., Tindle H.A., & Weiner D.K. (2008). “I felt like a new person.” The effects of mindfulness meditation on older adults with chronic pain: Qualitative narrative analysis of diary entries. Journal of Pain, 9 (9), 841-8.
Raudebaugh, C. (2010). Words to Relax: Relaxation Scripts for Personal Growth and Stress Relief. Red Deer, Alberta: Inner Health Studio.
Wachholtz, A.B., & Pargament, K.I. (2005). Is spirituality a critical ingredient of meditation? Comparing the effects of spiritual meditation, secular meditation, and relaxation on spiritual, psychological, cardiac, and pain outcomes. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 28 (4), 369-384.