It can be said that meditation helps relieve pain by reducing your stress. Between the breathing and visualisation, the calming effect on nerves is amazing and, as the body’s response to pain is very similar to the “fight or flight” response experienced during stressful events, the correlation between nerves and pain is undeniable.
With all that, it’s not much of a stretch to make the case of meditation as an effective pain relief tool for managing the mental effects that come with chronic pain. Anyone suffering from chronic pain knows that depression and anxiety go with the territory. It’s also common to experience other emotional symptoms, such as anger and frustration, when the pain strikes and limits the day’s activities.
Meditation can help with these as well as with the managing of the pain itself, and has even led to a reduction in dependence on medication for some chronic pain sufferers. However, meditation can be used in tandem with current medications, as it's safe and has no side effects.
There are at least three varieties of mindfulness practices that have shown promise in improving the mental stress that accompanies pain. These are Zen meditation, Mindfulness-based stress reduction (which combines yoga and coping strategies), and Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (which combines the previous with traditional cognitive therapy).
Experts studying how these affect pain believe they work to improve physical symptoms due to the calming of the nerves as the patient’s chosen technique puts them into a deeply relaxed state. It is also believed that further testing and brain scans may reveal more significant evidence of pain relief meditation in the near future.
No matter the technique, the most important thing is that it fit your lifestyle and provides the pain reducing benefits you need. And do give these techniques a chance, especially if you’ve never had success with meditating before. Sometimes it takes a little repetition so that in a relaxed state you are able to by-pass the internal ‘censor’ that wants to analyse and dissect everything – once it realises you are serious in your efforts, it will work more effectively!