You might think meditation and back pain an odd combination. Let me explain why it’s not.
People with chronic pain of any kind, could be back, hip, knee, shoulder, neck, all have one thing in common, STRESS. Being in pain all the time is stressful.
When it’s difficult to stand, or sit, or walk comfortably, our mind ruminates constantly on that feeling of pain. This means stress hormones are continuously coursing through our body. AND – stress hormones increase inflammation, which increases the pain. Lovely system, huh?
Well, back in the days when we needed the effect of those stress hormones to use all the energy from other parts of our body, like our digestive system, immune system, etc. to assist our leg muscles so we could run away fast from that hungry saber tooth tiger, this system served us much better than it does today. In today’s world, many people are stressed almost constantly. With political unrest, trade wars, fear of terrorists, fear of job loss, and more, we have become a world of people in chronic stress. All this chronic stress makes everything worse. When we’re stressed out, we’re grumpy, we don’t get the sleep that our body desperately needs to recover, which causes brain fog, so we sometimes make decisions that we wish we hadn’t. Our immune system does not function optimally, so we can’t fight off colds and flu as well. Sound familiar?
I’d bet the farm that you either know someone in this situation or you live there yourself.
Is there a simple solution?
One that doesn’t mean taking prescription medications with nasty side effects?
There are actually a few things that you can do to help yourself stop this pattern, and enjoy your life.
- First, breathing is one of the most important things you can do for yourself! If you think that’s crazy – of course you’re breathing - just pay attention to your breaths for a moment. Most of us take short, shallow breaths ALL THE TIME! We don’t even realize it. So, when something happens that we aren’t prepared for, like that surprise visit from grumpy Uncle Charlie when you’re vacuuming and doing laundry, attempting to “catch up,” our breaths become even more shallow, and those stress hormones run wild.
Just STOP. Excuse yourself and go into the bathroom, lock the door and sit down. Now, deeply inhale to a count of 6, and exhale for 7. Repeat twice more, then, stand and look into your eyes in the mirror, tell yourself that you are okay, and take two more deeper breaths. Now you’re ready to smile and welcome whatever else the day has in store for you. You’ll also find that the pain lessens a bit when you aren’t constantly thinking about it.
AND, remember that you can repeat this as often as needed in any day!
- A daily meditation practice is the best thing you can do to take care of yourself. You know that one can’t pour from an empty cup, and that your own self-care is important for not only your health, but the health of your whole family. So, make a 15-20 minute appointment in your calendar – EVERY DAY. Start with 10 minutes if that’s all you can manage. And KEEP that appointment with yourself. Meditating for just a few minutes every day is life changing! Aside from releasing all that cortisol from your body, a daily meditation practice increases the blood flow to your brain, increases grey matter in your brain, reduces your blood pressure, helps you to sleep better at night, and so much more.
I had a student a few years back who had had two major heart attacks. His doctors told him at that point that if he didn’t find some way to relax, not work so many hours, etc. that he should just get his estate in order, because in his case, three was not going to be the charm.
He began taking yoga classes with me, learned how to meditate, and completely changed his life around. This was several years ago and not only is he healthier, but also happier, calmer, stress free! He has gone on to become certified in Cardiac Yoga, and now teaches other “type A personalities” how to take care of themselves.
Another client with terrible back pain also began taking yoga, learned to meditate with me, and, through meditation, she became more aware of her mind body connection. She began listening to her inner guidance, understanding where in her body she felt pain and at what times, etc. and now she has no more back pain! She NEVER misses her daily meditation!
There are many, many stories like these, of how meditation changes lives for the better.
- Add a little humor. I know it’s difficult when you’re stressed, but if you can manage it, that effort will pay off big time. Since I usually include a video for you, today’s is an oldie but goodie sample of my laughing meditation. At one point, my son, who is taking the video, is laughing just because I’m ridiculous. Laugh along with me and release some of those stress hormones!
If you want to start out the new decade making your own self-care as important as any other appointment in your life, sign up for my meditation training. We’ll be starting on Jan 20th, and you can take the class live with me from your computer via Zoom Meetings, or come to my studio in Otis. You will be glad you did! More information on meditation HERE.
In the meantime, here is my ten minute guided relaxation for your holiday self-care!
Best of Health,