Several studies have proven that pain often causes stress—which I turn even worsens the pain. This is a cruel cycle that can be broken by mind/body therapies, often through meditation, hypnosis, and relaxation. While often tagged as alternative modes of treatment, these mind therapies are quickly gaining popularity and receiving widespread acceptance.
Let’s take a look at three of these mind therapies and how they can help in pain treatment.
Medical hypnosis involves the alteration of one’s awareness, often administered by licensed therapies. It tunes out a person’s conscious state, allowing him to let go of distractions and focus on important thoughts. It allows the reinforcement of new behavioral patterns, including the reduction of pain, and opens the mind to new goals.
As early as 1996, the benefits of medical hypnosis have been revealed to include the reduction of cancer pain, burn pain, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Two common methods, transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation, have been found to help in relaxing the body and easing pain. Transcendental meditation involves the repetition of a certain word or phrase—a mantra—allowing a person’s feelings and thoughts to pass by. Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, is about focusing one’s attention to certain thoughts and sensations, and is a common mode of reducing stress.
Numerous studies support the benefits of meditation, including the increase of one’s pain tolerance, mood improvement, and a decrease of stress and anxiety. It has also been shown to reduce pain in a variety of conditions, including chest pain, gastrointestinal pain, headache, and low back pain.
3. Relaxation therapies
There are several relaxation therapies that have been known to alleviate pain. One of them is progressive muscle relaxation, where you will slowly tense, hold, and release each muscle group from the toes up to the body. Autogenic training, on the other hand, makes use of visual imagery, primarily by letting a person imagine that he is in a peaceful place, and then focusing on the physical sensations that such imagery brings about. Third breathing, is about effective breathing to relieve stress, by taking a slow, deep breath, holding it for a few seconds, then letting out a slow exhale. These techniques have been shown to be effective in reducing chronic pain and treating insomnia.
Compared to medical therapies and surgeries, mind and body therapies—often through meditation—rarely have adverse reactions. In other words, there’s little to lose, so why don’t you try these out for yourself?