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Do you struggle with pain in the neck, back, IBS, fibromyalgia, or headaches, lasting for six months or more?
Do you experience that the effect of treatments does not last?
A major reason for the scientific and public awareness around mindfulness is its well-documented effect on chronic pain. Mindfulness has been shown to help through many neurological mechanisms.
Unfortunately, many people experience that the meditation techniques do not work for them, or even that the pain gets worse.
For meditation to be effective as pain relief or support in healing pain, you must take into account the following:
- Understand clearly why you are meditating
- Be aware of any possible post-traumatic stress disorder
- Find techniques that work for you
- Know how to deal with challenges in your meditation
- Take the time to master the techniques
- Practice mindful movement
- Give the techniques long enough for the nervous system to change
The purpose of meditation is not to reach a certain state or to experience becoming pain-free. The purpose is that your base levels of concentration, equanimity, and sensory clarity increase in daily life.
As you meditate, you gradually strengthen these attentional skills. It is a process that takes time, in the same way that it takes time to build muscle and become strong.
Meeting challenges in a good way is about using the right technique at the right time. Therefore, it is useful to know several techniques and practice them to know what to do and when to do it.
Practicing mindfulness creates both neurological changes and increased well-being in a number of fields.
1. Your brain is «upgraded»
Research done since the 80s shows i.a. the following results on pain in those who practice mindfulness:
- The brain’s stress center, the amygdala, shrinks.
This is in the oldest part of the brain, and is associated with anxiety, fear and strong emotions.
- As the amygdala shrinks, the frontal lobes of the brain grow.
This part is associated with higher brain functions such as attention, concentration and making choices. The frontal lobes also control how we interpret pain signals.
- The activity in the thalamus becomes less active.
This part of the brain affects how we experience sensory impressions.
- Throughout the nervous system, fewer substances are created that are associated with pain, stress and inflammation: C-reactive proteins, interleukin 6, cortisol and substance P.
With reduced inflammation, the production of dopamine becomes more normal, which increases the feeling of motivation and joy of life.
2. You experience increased well-being
You can expect the following results from practicing mindfulness:
- increased experience of joy and satisfaction
- reduced experience of pain and suffering
- deeper self-insight
- a better ability to change your own behavior
- more kindness towards yourself and others
3. Deep improvements in everyday life
When mindfulness becomes a part of daily life, one often experiences the following:
- better stress management
- less sense of overwhelm
- a better ability to make good decisions
- better relationships with everyone around you
- increased job satisfaction
Anonymous hospital physician, Norway
Mindfulness has been a good tool for me to help me deal with my pain. With personal guidance from Tord over several weeks, I have gotten a better understanding of the technique as well as help with motivation. He gives specific and simple tips that can be used everywhere and anytime!
Topics we can explore in our sessions together
Chronic pain is always complex. That is why all of the following topics can be important. However, we will focus on what is most important for you.
- Understand your pain and related science.
Know pain, know gain.
All pain is real. However, the more you understand pain, the less you will hurt. Pain experiences are constructed in response to our bodies’ dangers and threats and influenced by our thoughts, beliefs, and context. This knowledge is an important key to recovery. My understanding of pain is based on the works of scientists and therapists such as Melzack, Moseley, Butler, Luow, Ramachandran, Zeidan, Vago, Jacobs, and Dorko.
- Understand why practicing mindfulness helps for chronic pain.
If you can’t stop the waves, learn how to surf.
By directly strengthening the attentional skills of concentration, sensory clarity, and equanimity, mindfulness restructures the brain and helps the nervous system work better. The result is that you experience less discomfort, pain, and suffering, more joy and satisfaction, more insight into yourself, and more power to make your life better.
- Working with and around trauma.
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.
Trauma is an event or series of events that is so stressful that it makes us feel overwhelmed, helpless, and often fundamentally insecure. In some cases, it can be created by prolonged emotional strain or stress. If you have had traumatic experiences, you will learn how to take specific precautions when meditating.
- Avoid common misconceptions about meditation.
No, you don’t need to stop thinking.
Most mindfulness techniques are simpler than many people think. If you have tried it before and believe you failed, you did not receive proper instruction.
- Find your own mindfulness power tool.
Choose from the 30+ techniques of the Mindful Relief toolbox.
Mindful Relief is based on the Unified Mindfulness System, which contains a universal library for training attention. This library is a structured catalog of all the contemplative techniques in the world. You are sure to find mindfulness techniques that suit your personality, interests, and skill level within it. You will also learn how to deepen, widen, sharpen, and accelerate any practice you choose.
- Explore and discover your personal mindful movement practice.
Motion is lotion.
By gradually and mindfully increasing exposure to stresses, you can learn to move in a way that improves your pain. You will learn to do this at your own pace. The important point is to move, whether through regular walks, simple stretching or yoga, dancing, strength training, or just tumbling on the floor with your kids.
- Learn how to integrate mindfulness into your life.
Embody mindfulness principles through self-care.
The fundamental ground for pain recovery is friendliness, friendliness to others, and fundamental friendliness to ourselves. To care for ourselves, we need to work with our boundaries. That includes protecting our attention and nurturing what is positive, wholesome, and growing better in our lives.
How much do you have to meditate for noticeable effects on pain?
We do not have a clear answer to this. But we have some research results that give us a clue.
In an early study with 51 participants, over ten weeks of daily meditation of 30 minutes, all with chronic pain either in the lower back, neck, shoulders, headache, as well as angina pectoris, 65% showed a reduction of equivalent to or more than 33% on McGill and Melzack’s pain scale. 50% showed a reduction of equivalent to or more than 50% on the scale.
Recent research, however, shows that only three days of 20 minutes of meditation shows a drastic reduction in pain in a group who were not particularly selected because they had chronic pain problems.
In my experience, you get results with even less effort, even with only 15 minutes every day. However, the results are in proportion to the time put into the mindfulness practice.
What kind of techniques are beneficial when in pain?
When we use meditation to deal with pain, we can generally divide the techniques into techniques that work to turn towards the pain and techniques where one turns away from the pain.
In the beginning, it is often helpful to turn away from the pain to some degree. However, it gradually becomes more and more helpful to focus directly on the pain. In some cases, such as in intense and overwhelming pain, you have no choice and the most fruitful thing is to focus directly on the pain.
Useful techniques include:
- Focus on emotions – Focus in
Since pain in most cases is related to emotions, it is useful to work directly with these emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, worry, and shame are not uncommon reactions to lasting pain. This is an example of turning towards and opening up to the pain and discomfort it causes.
- Focus on the physical experience of the pain – Focus out
It may seem strange, but it can be very helpful to meditate directly on the pain. By having less resistance to the pain and more acceptance, the pain becomes less threatening.
In this technique, we can expect the pain to increase during the meditation as we focus our attention on it. But we also gain insight into the fact that the pain is constantly changing, both in strength and distribution. This is also a way to turn towards and open up to the pain.
- Focus on rest
Stress is often conducive to persistent pain. And through meditation we can learn to reduce the experience of stress.
When we are stressed several body systems are put on hold, notablyt the digestion, sexual organs, and parts of the brain. Meanwhile, the flow of blood changes so that the limbs get more blood, while the middle of the body gets less.
We also develop certain holding patterns in the muscles, which prepare us to protect ourselves from threats: We raise our shoulders, get ready to hunch down, bite our teeth together, etc.
By focusing on rest, we learn to find faster relaxation in everyday life. This is one way to turn away from the pain.
- Focus on external experience – Focus out
This is another way to turn away from the pain. Instead, we turn to external sensory experiences, such as sounds and music.
As in all techniques, we train the attentional skills of concentration, equanimity and sensory clarity. Indirectly, this training helps us to down-regulate the parts of the brain that provoke a pain response.
- Mindful movement
Body movemenet is pain-relieving in itself, and also teaches us to have a relationship with the pain that makes it seem less threatening.
When we practice mindful movement, it is very useful to practice a specific meditation technique. It is common to do Focus Out, but in principle almost all meditation techniques can be used in motion as well. Eastern movement methods such as yoga, taichichuan and qigong are suitable for this, but also dance or regular morning gymnastics.
Leni Torvbråten, Web editor for the Oslo City Council
Tords combination of knowledge and agreeability is unbeatable.
This program may be for you if:
- You understand the value of practice to have a better life.
Mindfulness is strength training for the brain, and actually makes it grow and change in many, many ways. This training takes a certain amount of time and effort.
The good news is that most people experience results from their mindfulness practice with only ten minutes every day. With the proper guidance, the investment in time pays off exponentially the more you practice. If you can’t be disciplined, be smart, as Shinzen Young says.
- You don’t expect a magical pill to to fully and permanently take away all your pain.
Although there is a lot of science to support the medical treatment of chronic pain with mindfulness, chronic pain is always complex. Just as complex as you and me. And pain is, and will always be, a part of human life.
However, in this program, you will learn many techniques, approaches, and perspectives that will help to relieve and improve your pain, and the quality of your life. For the rest of your life. That I can guarantee.
- You haven’t had recent mental illness.
Mindfulness is a good adjunct, but not an alternative, to psychotherapy. Although mindfulness is surprisingly powerful, this power can make underlying conditions worse.
If you do have a history of mental illness, there is still a possibility that you may participate in the program. Please discuss it with your physician and/or therapist and let me know by email. Teamwork is always a good thing when dealing with complex health issues.
The Mindful Relief pain coaching includes:
- Private and personalized guidance with Tord Helsingeng for individually tailored meditation coaching and to speak confidentially about your personal challenges.
- Clear text material of all techniques, with precise explanations and easy to follow steps.
- Unlimited email-support during the coaching, and three months beyond it.
My personal guarantee
- Your value and needs are at the center of my guidance.
- Kindness and interaction is the fundament of my method
- I follow a high ethical standard, so you can feel as safe as possible
- I refer further when I see my limitation. I specialize in persistent pain and stress disorders, especially with symptoms in the neck, back, tendonitis, headaches, stomach and digestion, anxiety, and burnout. If I see my limitation for physical problems, I refer to a doctor, and for severe mental problems, I refer to a psychologist.
- I stay up to date in my fields – research on mindfulness and meditation, body therapies, and pedagogy.
Next step: Book a free 30-minute call. Get in touch for a free and non-binding call, where we will see if my coaching is right for you.