Chronic pain comes with its fair share of “other” issues ~
most of us have experienced depression and anxiety and for some, it can even spiral into Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). Living in constant pain, and the brain’s insistent and unanswerable “fight-or-flight” response, has the capacity to alter our lives, and obviously, our mental health, in any number of ways. Dealing with these, as with all health concerns, requires the help and advice of medical professionals. Learning to live with chronic pain however often requires us to look above and beyond. One promising idea is the practice of mindfulness.
An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Emotional Distress and Depression
Written by John Teasdale, Mark Williams & Zindel Segal with Jon Kabat-Zinn‘s endorsement (who has made substantive contributions to the development of MBCT) the workbook is based upon Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which strives to “transform suffering”.
“By intentionally moving our awareness gently and gradually toward unpleasant, uncomfortable sensations, we begin to gain skill over, and un-do, deeply-rooted habits developed to avoid unpleasant feelings, sensations and experiences.”
One meditation practice utilized during the 8-week course is the body scan. Amongst other things it helps the practitioner learn to become more mindful, connected to the body and relaxed. A key here is to learn one’s “pain signature” ~ where in the body you “hold” your pain, in other words what parts of your body become activated, tensing up and around the experience of pain. Readers learn to breath through and into these in order to lessen their body’s reaction to and experience of distress.
“Using our breathe and mindful awareness of body as an ever-present anchor to return to the here and now.”
A guided meditation to aid beginners (and long-term practitioners), recorded by Jon-Kabat Zinn, in the process of the body-scan can be found here.