Learning mindfulness techniques for chronic pain starts with our thinking. aOur thoughts are harmless, despite how intense they can make us feel sometimes. They can’t actually hurt us in the physical world. Even the most terrifying thought, like a zombie apocalypse, can’t cause bodily harm. Like a fictional movie projected on a screen, thoughts can create feelings within us but they are not factual representations of reality.
In other words, thoughts are not actual, tangible, real life experiences. They are pictures in our head that have been influenced by our own perceptions, judgments, and interpretations of the world. Yet, we can get so entangled in them that the lines between reality and fantasy can get blurred.
Mindfulness techniques for chronic pain teach us to observe our thoughts in a non-judgmental way. Here is a strategy to help you watch your thoughts.
- Find a quiet place
Take some time to be alone in a comfortable and relaxing environment. It’s important to give yourself some time to turn your attention inward and observe what is going on inside you.
- Take some deep breaths
3-5 cycles of deep, diaphragmatic breaths will help to calm you, allowing you more opportunity to observe your thoughts in a non-judgmental way.
- Allow thoughts to come up
Let your thoughts rise to the surface but imagine they are like clouds in the sky. You cannot touch them, grab them, attach to them, only watch them as they come in and out of your consciousness.
- Notice feelings
When a particular thought comes up, how does it feel physically in the body? Do you feel tense, tight, jittery, heavy, tingly, etc. Start to place the sensation in the body.
- Let them go
Since thoughts are not real, allow them to pass through you. Like clouds in the sky, they float by with effortless ease.
Although this may seem challenging to do, practicing mindful observation of thoughts can give you a sense of control. You may not be able to control what you think, but you can control how you respond to what you think. Gradually and with patience, you will get better at observing thoughts, noticing how they effect your body, and non-judgmentally letting them go. Let us know if these mindfulness techniques for chronic pain help you!