Mindfulness and its close sibling, meditation, have been shown by research, particularly Jon-Kabat Zinn’s work, to truly help and make a difference in the quality of the lives for those with Chronic Pain.
But getting started with a meditation practice can be a challenge, especially for those with Chronic Pain. When you live in constant pain, by definition your mind is busy, busy constantly sending you the message of pain. How in the world do we quiet that level of mental disturbance down?
Forget “monkey mind”! Living in Chronic Pain is more like living with Gorilla mind.
In any event, where to start?
Guided meditation (having another walk- aka talk you, and too, encourage and even time you through the process) may be the most ideal form of meditation for Chronic Pain sufferers. It’s definitely a great place to start.
Like with other aspects of our lives, technology can make all aspects of starting and supporting a meditation practice easier. Three easy to use apps, with different styles and offering different types of meditations, are:
- Calm– this site offers a vast number of different guided meditations to address all manner of meditation purposes and goals from body scans to loving kindness to commuting as well as simple straight-forward timed meditations and all to a wide number of different pleasing images and soundtracks, mostly based in nature.
- Headspace– a direct, easy to use site, created by a Buddhist monk, that includes informative, short, animated You-tube clips to help you learn the basics. After that there are many guided meditations to chose from, from travel and on-the-go meditations to those to help with sleep or frustration as well as the basic timed meditation.
- Centering Prayer- a Christian form of prayer that has deep connections with meditation. This app allows you to customize your prayer practice with opening and closing prayers or biblical readings and bells, chimes, etc. A clean, direct approach to establishing a centering prayer practice.
The Examen is a method of reflecting upon your day with God. An Ignatian spiritual practice it’s a form of prayer that embraces gratitude and an attitude of courage and strength as well as hopeful anticipation that are born of practicing our faith.
It takes about 10-15 minutes at the close of your day and can help those living with Chronic Pain to find a positive way to end the day and too, look towards the future, towards tomorrow with some measure of positivity and a renewed sense of strength.
The 5 Steps of Examen
- Ask God for Light. We ask God to help us look at our day through His eye’s rather than just our own, to see with His Love and compassion.
- We give thanks for all the blessings in our life- no matter how small they may seem in our darker moments. There are always things to be thankful for, and we learn to invite God and the positivity of faith into our lives when we practice gratitude.
- We review our day and look for God’s presence and guidance in our day, in our life. Miracles and goodness are always there if we but get into the habit of looking for and seeing them.
- Face our shortcomings. Living with pain is hard, and we can often fall into patterns of anger, short-temperedness, withholding, fear, doubt and despair ( to name a few). But we can find courage and strength in learning to recognize our weaknesses, especially negative patterns, as once recognized we can begin the work of change. We ask for God’s forgiveness, guidance and help.
- And lastly, we look towards a new day tomorrow. We ask for God to walk with us through whatever the new day may present and relax knowing He will be there to walk with us and too, to trust in His presence in our lives.
Missing the Obvious
“Writers never see the mistakes in their own manuscripts; manuscripts always have to be proofread by someone unfamiliar with the text, who will read what is actually there and not what he expects to read. The writer will invariably read what she intended to write….It is amazing just how many mistakes the proofreader will pick up, even though the writer was sure that she had checked and double-checked it.
Perhaps prayer is like that.
We don’t see God’s answers to our prayers, because our minds are completely tuned in to what we expect God to do, or even what we, in our wisdom, have instructed Him to do….
Our expectation represents a very small part
when set against the cosmic range of God’s possibilities.
Thus it becomes easy to miss the obvious, because we are waiting for…
Continue reading “Maintaining, and Finding Peace in, Trust”
Research has shown that mindfulness is one of the very few things truly proven to be an affective coping skill for Chronic Pain.
But what in the heck is mindfulness?
Andy Puddicombe, a former Tibetan Monk, does a wonderfully entertaining job of presenting just what mindfulness is and looks like and also covers, in a delightful manner, the benefits of practicing it for even just 10 minutes a day.
Chronic Pain, obviously, takes from us, first and foremost, the gift of living pain-free, of health and well-being. That is a hard thing to come to terms with (to put it mildly). But living in constant pain, we soon learn, is going to ask much, much more of us, as do so many chronic illnesses.
We come to know, and perhaps repeatedly and/or continuously for a time, a sense of profound bereavement.
Learning to understand the psychological process of loss, of bereavement, is an important coping skill when you live with Chronic Pain.
Continue reading “Chronic Pain and Bereavement ~ Learning to Live with the Losses”