These 4 mind-body techniques can relieve chronic pain without medication.
3 of 5 | Meditation
In a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, scientists tested pain perception in a group of people who practiced Zen meditation regularly versus a group of non-meditators. They found that those who meditated had a much lower sensitivity to pain, even while not meditating.
Because Zen meditation involves sitting still for long periods, it can be a challenge for beginners—especially beginners who are in pain. Instead, try moving meditation, which trains your mind to pay close attention to small movements, says Hugh Byrne, Ph.D.,
a meditation teacher in Silver Spring, Md. Because your attention is closely focused
on the movements, your mind may become calmer, which helps to shift the experience of the pain, he says.
One of Byrne’s students was a woman in her 60s who experienced significant pain
as the result of treatment for cancer. “At
first she found the mindfulness meditation almost impossible because the pain was just too much,” says Byrne. “Over time, through the practice of mindful meditation, she was able to open up more to her pain and not be so caught up in it. If she could stay with the actual sensations themselves—of pinching or throbbing or heat—she was able to see that some of her suffering came from her resistance to the experience.”
1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed forward, knees slightly bent, shoulders down and hands relaxed at your sides. “Be aware of the sensations of standing on the ground, of your body breathing, of the weight on your legs,” says Byrne.
2. Inhale and slowly raise your arms in front of you, parallel to each other with palms facing down.
3. Exhale while slowly moving your arms out to the sides of your body, then lowering them to the original position on an inhale.
4. Repeat movement for 5 to 10 minutes, noticing the sensations throughout your body each time you lift and lower your arms.