PLEASE NOTE: Pain is the body’s signal that something is wrong, being overused or out of balance. If there is redness and swelling present and the painful area is warmer than the surrounding area, GO TO A DOCTOR! You may have an infection or blood clot that needs immediate attention. Do NOT stop or alter any prescribed medication without first consulting a doctor.
For anyone who wishes to explore what you can do to manage ongoing, chronic pain without the use of medication, debilitating side-effects, or risk of addiction, here are the five steps of natural pain control using the power of the mind.
The first step is to dispel your biggest obstacle: fear.
To put it simply, fear = anxiety = inflammation = pain = more fear = more anxiety, and so forth.
It is important that the cause of your pain has been accurately diagnosed by your doctor, otherwise your mind will be distracted by the “what if?” game… as in “what if I have this or that disease?”, “what if the pain gets worse?”, or “what if the pain never goes away?”. Thinking about pain only makes it worse, and “trying” not to think about pain, is like trying not to think about a pink elephant.
Your doctor will have theories on the cause of your pain and perform tests, and until those test results are in, you are likely to be left wondering and worrying about your health and well-being, especially if you are incapacitated. Even if the cause of your pain is undetermined, there is still much that can be done about your relationship to the pain, as long as you are under medical supervision.
Fear inhibits two important abilities in managing chronic pain: concentration and relaxation.
The opposite of fear is… love. Treating your body as the enemy will only make matters worse. So love your body! It’s the only one you have, so it just makes sense to work with it instead of fighting with it. Pain is a signal to get your attention. Ignoring the pain will not make the pain go away.
The second step of natural pain control is to develop trust and belief in the virtuosity of your body and its ability to manage pain, using the pharmacy of the brain.
Realize that your body makes its own pain killing compound, chemically similar to morphine called, endorphin. (That’s why morphine and its derivatives are so addictive, the brain has these morphine-like receptor sites already present.)
Endorphins are deployed in a site-specific way, at exactly the right dose, at the exact right moment, with no unhealthy side-effects, in order to preserve the other vital systems and functions of the body. Ever notice a bruise on yourself and not remember how it happened?
It is also important to know that people have made miraculous recoveries from the most terrible of diseases, even when they are on the brink of death.
The third step is to concentrate only on what you are experiencing through your senses in the present moment. Remember that the experience of pain is three-fold: the pain you remember from yesterday, the pain you are having now, and the pain you anticipate in the future. Choosing a quiet, relaxing atmosphere at a comfortable temperature with full body support can make this process easier and enjoyable.
In a safe, relaxing atmosphere, close your eyes and focus inwardly, concentrating on slow rhythmic belly breathing using your diaphragm muscles. Pay close attention to slowly expelling all the air in your lungs by gently tensing your abdomen, and then releasing. This is how you breathe when you are sleeping; it activates your relaxation response, and deep relaxation is an integral part of successful pain management. Make your exhales last as long as possible… and in a relatively short amount of time, you will have cut your pain by 2/3!
The fourth step once you have settled down is to use your mind to engage in progressive relaxation, starting from the top your head to the tip of your toes. Give yourself at least one hour to accomplish this.
By progressive relaxation, I don’t mean tensing and releasing muscles, since this can lead to muscle strain, and you may not be able to move certain parts of your body that are painful.
Focus first on just relaxing your eyelid muscles until they become heavy, then methodically relaxing your forehead, scalp, facial muscles, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, your torso and then progress all the way down to your feet, mentally relaxing each muscle group as you go. You should feel a warmth or tingling in your hands and feet as your blood vessels begin to dilate, which lowers your blood pressure. You may also feel your limbs getting heavier, or you may feel your body is floating, or both!
Take your time and be as detailed as you can. Notice and amplify any sense of relief or comfort you feel in other parts of your body not affected by your pain. This is how to train the body to lower inflammation, stimulate healing circulation, and is the natural method of relieving migraines.
The fifth step is complete pain relief through the process of dissociation. (This form of intentional dissociation using Self-Hypnosis is a controlled process, not a mental disorder.)
Some people are better at dissociation, out-of-body journeys, and deep trance states than others, such as those in the Creative Arts; yet, anyone can master this technique. If you fall asleep at this point, no big deal, you probably need it.
With your inner vision, recall your most vivid memories of a relaxing place you visited, imagine being there again, and make that your pain-free place. Beautiful outdoor scenes work well, but any serene location will do. The key here is to realize that you are removing yourself from the pain and not vice versa.
The more absorbed you can become in your imagery, the more oblivious you will become to your symptom. Using a background soundtrack of ocean, river or rain, or a Personalized Self-Hypnosis MP3 Recording can be useful in maintaining focus for longer periods of time.
With enough daily practice, at this level you can completely numb any part of your body for extended periods of time and even undergo surgery without the use of anesthesia or, coupled with proper physical conditioning, you can mentally detach from labor contractions for a drug-free, natural childbirth.
The trance state is the healing state; it’s not an intellectual process of acquiring more information about your symptom(s) or filling your time with distractions. If you want to experience pain relief, then the key is learn how to focus on amplifying the relief, not the pain!