Joy Ignites Success

Tips for Being with Physical Pain

By - Tuesday, December 03, 2013

When we are experiencing uncomfortable sensations in the body, we often feel emotionally fragile as well. Energy is automatically directed to handling or fixing physical pain leaving a shortage of energy for dealing with life. Also, when we are in pain, our belief in our own invincibility is threatened. On top of this, we may have many negative beliefs about pain from childhood—such as “anyone with pain is a whiner, crybaby, etc.,” “you should be able to handle this,” or “something’s wrong with you.” Here are some ideas for being with pain:

Awareness and Attention: with real pain, ignoring it will not make it go away. Pain may be a call for attention and an indicator that something is amiss. Get curious about your pain; is it warning you about a serious imbalance in your system? Is it letting you know something about someone or something in your environment? Keep in mind that when we ignore our pain, it often escalates; much like a child wanting to be noticed.


Breath: breath works hand in hand with attention. When we breathe into a sensation we are giving it attention, but we are also validating it, telling the pain that it is worthy of our energy. Also, breathing expands the area around the pain by providing oxygen and space. Letting the pain get bigger is a meditation technique that works with breath to expand the area the sensation occupies. While this may be a frightening thought, think about liquid on a surface: the larger the surface, the thinner the consistency of the fluid. When pain is spread out over a larger area, it becomes less intense.

Loving Kindness: often we judge ourselves by our pain and/or illness. When we are blamed by others or blame ourselves, we contract in reaction. Contraction closes in on pain and makes it worse. Remember that you are a human being—having a human experience and doing the best you can with what you have available in the moment.

Release Wanting to Change: A very simple and powerful thing you can do is ask yourself, “Could I let go of wanting to change this?” Our resistance to the pain actually keeps it locked in place. Willingness to allow it to be creates an opening for the pain to dissolve.

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Melanie Smithson Institute is dedicated to enriching lives through embodied education and training; using movement, play and releasing to connect with innate wisdom and joy.  

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