No one is immune from the experience of pain at some point in their life, but meditation practices may ease the mental suffering that often accompanies it.
Pain can be experienced on a somatic level due to physical illness or injury, or experienced on the emotional level from depression, anxiety, grief and loss, self-criticism, peer or other relational pressures. Pain is inevitable. Whether or not one suffers is another matter.
The biggest difficulty is not the pain itself; it’s the story we carry about our pain that creates the most suffering. “I will never feel better. This headache will never stop. This feeling will never go away. I can’t do anything right. I’m just not good enough.” Sound familiar? From a mindfulness perspective, it's important to differentiate pain from suffering because how we relate to painful sensations, plays a powerful role in moderating our level of suffering, and ultimately, the quality of our life.
Mindfulness practices don’t change one’s physical or emotional pains, but they may provide a thinking environment that helps one tolerate difficulties with greater resilience. Formal mindfulness practices, like meditation, train your mind to notice the uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations as they emerge. With awareness, one can choose how to respond to life’s struggles, rather than be consumed by patterned thoughts or behaviors that often make things worse.
Sitting in meditation for as little as 10 minutes a day can help change the stories you carry from those of hopelessness, to stories with a beginning, middle, and end. Two of my favorite resources for mindfulness meditations are Headspace, a convenient phone app, and the guided meditation podcasts provided by the UCLA Mindfulness Research Center @ http://marc.ucla.edu/meditation-at-the-hammer
If you have any stories on how meditation practices have eased your suffering and improved the quality of your life, please let me know. I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org