As a meditation teacher ,I offer one on one pain and stress relief sessions using mindfulness meditation .This form of meditation comes to us from Buddhism and involves sitting down with both intention and attention. The intention is to come into the present moment .Attention is paid to the breath as an anchor to assist us in this endeavour. Mindfulness can be applied to chronic pain and stress related conditions alike and implies an opening up to one’s difficulties in the present moment. This may seem counter intuitive ,but following the principles of this type of meditation,one is encouraged to become aware of what exactly one is thinking ,feeling and sensing in the now. This is done not with any sense of maudlin introspection. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. However the individual is encouraged to have a foundational attitude of kindliness and friendliness towards themselves .In a normal meditation, we allow thoughts feelings and emotions to flow without getting immersed in them and allowing them to carry us away helplessly downstream. Instead, we acknowledge what is happening for us right now. We honour it, but don’t overly engage with it or try to block it..Time and again ,we bring ourselves back to the anchor of our breath and stay present to the ceaseless river of life moving through us.
This compassionate acceptance of where we are at in any given moment ,can have a wonderful application for chronic pain and stress related conditions alike. By no longer fighting our difficulties, and breathing into them with love and kindness ,we can alleviate our own suffering. There are techniques for softening our own pain, fear and distress. We can learn as Jon Kabat Zinn (the man who brought mindfulness to the west said} to surf the waves of both pain and pleasure. Few of us are taught to love ourselves in a wholesome way ,but Buddha himself said “You more than anyone else in the whole universe deserve your own love and attention.” Jesus Christ said “Love thy neighbour as thy self.”In a number of cases ,when applying mindfulness techniques to pain and stress, symptoms have been very definitely reduced and in some cases even resolved. In whichever case, the person has an enduring skill to make quality of life much better. To quote Cat Stevens “We’re only dancing on this earth for a short time” it is imperative that we make that time valuable whatever our circumstances.
I offer a session or a no. of sessions of guided imagery which can be used as an adjunct to the herbs and dietary changes prescribed. Guided imagery is a gentle but powerful technique which allows us to focus our minds in a specific way for healing. The imagination is engaged and this is a powerful tool and ally on our journey to well being. Although it has been referred to as visualisation, this is only partially accurate, as far more than the visual sense is called into play. Imagery involves actually all the senses and almost anyone can do this. It isn’t strictly a mental activity, as many would assume ,as it involves the whole body, mind,and the emotions .
When properly constructed, this technique has the capacity to deliver complex multi layered images to the body mind and create what might be termed a three dimensional experience in the holo deck, not of star trek but of the mind. Our mind doesn’t distinguish between imagination and what we perceive as reality. Hence the creation of a positive experience over and over again has the capacity to recharge all our cells and invigorate them in a way which leads us to wholeness. Dr Deepak Chopra states that every cell in our body is eavesdropping on every conversation we have with ourselves. In her book “Molecules of emotion” Dr Candace Pert Ph.d. tells us that every thought has a chemical signature in the body. Mind isn’t just confined to the brain as was once thought, but resides in every part of us. Research has shown that even 10 minutes of guided imagery can reduce blood pressure ,lower cholesterol and fasting glucose levels in the blood and heighten short term immune cell activity. It can considerably reduce blood loss during surgery and morphine use after it. It lessens headaches and pain.
Imagination is a very powerful friend and ally on our journey back to wholeness. In guided imagery, we may be encouraged to revisit time and again our favourite healing place, where we draw in every sense and feeling, so we feel we are actually there with no passport or border control to worry about!
Sometimes we can engage with our cells in an imaginative way, allowing a flow of energy to be drawn through them in order to heal. This type of imagery is taken from Chinese medicine , Ayurveda or quantum physics where illness would be viewed as stuck energy witheld from the general flow.
We may imagine the diseased arteries or organ having renewed blood flow enter them if we have a good knowledge of anatomy. Even if we don’t ,we can use metaphoric imagery, for example where each cell could be a flower bud opening up to received fresh oxygenated blood.
We may use spiritual imagery and connect with our higher self and affirm quietly and gently that spirit is guiding us back to the perfection which was intended for us before our conception. We can release all conscious fears in this state and give ourselves a blueprint of divinely intended wholeness.
Whatever technique we use, guided imagery can be very useful for most people .Especially if guided by a therapist and practised regularly at home our subconscious mind comes to believe what our conscious mind is telling it. All of life is a seeding and birthing. We can plant the seeds in our minds of better health and our bodies can respond. It has been said that the thinking universe is a mirror which reflects back to the thinker what he or she puts into it. The implications for health from this are indeed very significant.