What is Pain?
Pain is a signal from your body that something is wrong or out of balance. Pain is your body screaming LISTEN TO ME!
When pain is new or acute, your body’s cries are telling you that you had better pay attention and get appropriate medical evaluation and treatment to determine and address the cause of the pain. However, if you are compliant with competent medical care that has addressed the presumed cause or causes of the pain, and the pain does not go away, the nature of the problem changes.
The Problem of Chronic Pain
The problem of chronic pain is that nothing that has been done to you or that you have done for yourself has worked well enough. Everything that can be done medically may have been done, but the pain keeps bothering you. You still hurt too much.
By this point, in the interest of your wellbeing, you need to respond differently to the pain signals. At times, you may benefit from finding ways of distracting yourself from the pain so that you do not feel it as intensely. Ultimately, however, to solve your pain problem and get back in control of your life, you need to listen to the pain and watch it without judgment so that you can begin to understand the meaning of the pain signals. In order to accomplish this, you need to go inside yourself and do some exploring. We shall explain how to do this “inner work”.
The Concept of “Mindfulness”
The concept of “mindfulness” is now a popular concept in the self-help literature. There are numerous “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) programs and books for practically every emotional, behavioral, relationship and health problem that became available since the end of the last century.
Fundamentally, “mindfulness” means paying attention to what you are doing; or being mindful of everything that happens. If you do not pay attention when you are taming a lion, you are in big trouble! You cannot tame a big, powerful and dangerous cat by trying to overpower it. The same applies to taming chronic pain.
When you are dealing with persistent pain, you are dealing with something that is in your own body. In fact, it is your body keeping you on notice by nagging or pressing or poking or stabbing or sticking or prodding or squeezing or shocking or screaming at you – or all of the above.
Likewise, if someone is screaming at you, and you want him to calm down and stop screaming, you need to be mindful and let him know you take him seriously. You need to listen to what he is screaming about, let him know you hear him, and respond in a comforting and calming manner that addresses his gripes.
If you want pain relief, it’s important to learn how to listen to your body so that you can understand the message and respond calmly and appropriately to your body using your mind and your body. This is the essence of mindful pain control, which is a mindful and compassionate way to stop fighting pain and to start getting pain relief. We call it compassionate self-awareness, as included in the title of our book.
In this book, we will teach you how to build a better, healthier, and friendlier relationship with your body and with your pain. We will also teach you how to communicate with your body in a way that your body understands, which addresses your body’s gripes, and in a way that is calming, comforting and soothing. This entails learning how to use your mind to pay attention to your body and learning how to be kind and considerate to your body.
Being attentive is the essence of mindfulness. Being kind and considerate to your body means listening to your body and understanding what your body is telling you that it needs from you. Being kind and considerate is the essence of compassion. A mindful and compassionate approach to taming your chronic pain will help you to get pain relief.