Pain is all too often a part of our daily life, whether physical, mental, or emotional.
This is a simple exercise to help manage the pain you are experiencing in this moment:
1. Locate the pain you are feeling right now in your body, finding and naming the specific location.
2. Spend a moment analyzing what it feels like (sharp, dull, radiating, hot, cold, excruciating, numbing, specific, nonspecific, big, small, insidious, etc.)
3. Now find a part of your body that doesn’t hurt. Examples might be your elbow, ear or pinky toe.
4. Spend a moment analyzing what it feels like (…likely it doesn’t feel like much at all because it’s a healthy part of your body and doesn’t need to send any signal of needing attention through pain or discomfort).
5. Find another spot in your body that doesn’t hurt. What does it feel like? Also doesn’t feel like much? Good, just keep going until you have at least five different locations that don’t hurt in your body. Spend a couple of moments with each one before finding the next non-painful spot.
6. Once you have gone through those five locations and have taken a moment to feel what each one feels like, become aware of the part of your body that was originally painful. Is it still painful? Did you feel it while you moved your attention to different locations of your body that didn’t hurt? If it’s still painful, is the pain different?
7. Analyze the pain again, giving it a description, and then again shift your attention to the five places that don’t hurt. This time notice what happens to the painful spot. It likely is still there, but the pain should be not as overbearing since you’re attention is now divided between different locations of your body.
8. Repeat this exercise throughout the day during moments when the pain you’re experiencing becomes overwhelming or as you feel necessary/useful.
Why this exercise helps with pain:
Focusing attention on pain is like putting it under a microscope, it becomes magnified and therefore it intensifies. The more it intensifies, the more attention gets put on it. After a while the pain becomes the center of attention and it becomes difficult to think of or experience anything else. By becoming aware of areas of the body that do not hurt, the focus on the pain diminishes, allowing for the pain to be put into context of how the rest of the body is feeling, taking it out from under the microscope. The pain, as a by product, can diminish.
Samantha Lotti is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist, acupuncturist and herbalist in Chicago, Illinois. For more information: www.biodynamichealth.com.