Through relaxation you can break the vicious circle of pain and stress. This podcast takes you through some easy to learn methods of relaxation, helping it to become part of your daily life and improving your wellbeing. It also lists the benefits of meditation and looks at the supporting scientific evidence, examining why relaxation should be an integral component in your recovery.
Relaxation is an integral component of cognitive behavioral treatment programs for chronic pain.1 Taking care of stress and anxiety as a chronic pain patient is crucial for your recovery.
Meditation is also a great way to built relaxation into your daily life. There are many different ways of practicing meditation and you have to find what works best for you.
Many people enrich their lives through practicing meditation.
When you read interviews with successful CEO´s, entrepreneurs or celebrities who have incorporated meditation routines in their lives it is astonishing to see the huge benefits they experience.
having more energy
having more creativity
living more efficiently
a better understanding of ones own emotions
more sensitivity to the feelings and emotions of others
more control over ones own emotions
less pressured by your experiences
feeling more relaxed
more calming thoughts
control over your sensory filtering
improved memory and executive function
increased ability to concentrate
increased emotional intelligence
Thinking about relaxation, mindfulness and awareness during our recovery can’t be done without looking at some important evidence and thoughts about meditational practices:
Mindfulness meditation programs improve anxiety, depression and pain over the course of 2–6 months. The effects are comparable with those you can expect after taking antidepressants for the same period of time, but without the associated toxicities.2
47 placebo-controlled trials all found small to moderate improvements in pain, anxiety and depression. What is really great about this review (Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being from 2013) is that it demonstrates that the meditation group attained better results compared to the control group undertaking an equally intense treatment regarding focus and time, such as lectures, talks and art therapy sessions.
If we consider this evidence, then it seems a good reason to check out mindfulness for yourself and see if meditation could be something for you to try.
Mindfulness has been described as a “non-elaborative, non-judgmental awareness” of present moment experience.3
Maybe you have heard of Zen, it´s very closely related to the mindfulness approach.
In general mindfulness techniques can be divided into two styles:
"Focused attention is associated with maintaining focus on a specific object, often the changing sensation or flow of the breath or an external object. When attention drifts from the object of focus to a distracting sensory, cognitive or emotional event, the practitioner is taught to acknowledge the event and to disengage from it by gently returning the attention back to the object of meditation".3
"By contrast, open monitoring is associated with a non-directed acknowledgement of any sensory, emotional or cognitive event that arises in the mind. Zen meditation is considered to be one form of open monitoring practice. While practicing open monitoring, the practitioner experiences the current sensory or cognitive ‘event’ without evaluation, interpretation, or preference".3
Many guided meditation programs consist of a mix of those two styles. Often changing from one to the other within a meditation session.
I also think that it’s really important to know that clinical research into mindfulness has been going on since the early 1980s. For me this means that there is a good scientific evidence for using meditation techniques detached from religious beliefs or dogma for health purposes.
There is plenty of good content on the Internet available for free, simply search for mindful meditation. Check out some talks about meditation on TED.com and be inspired, or check out www.mindful.org
Each week has a different theme, and usually includes some introductory comments, a guided meditation, some silent practice time, and closing comments. Presented by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
Guided audio files for practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) from the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness.
Basic meditation with Tara Brach
Free meditations that you can stream or download.
Contemplative Mind in Society
Guided practices from Mirabai Bush, the center’s director, Diana Winston from UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, and Arthur Zajonc, president of the Mind & Life Institute.
Insight Meditation Society
Selected talks, podcasts, and audio streams, including various lengths of guided meditation.
John Kabat Zinn on youtube:
Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.