A really interesting article on Psychology Today helps explain how the mind can be used to help control pain.
Any such coping technique for chronic pain should begin with controlled deep breathing:
1. It is best to be in a relaxed position in a dark room, with eyes closed or focused on a point.
2. Breathe deeply, while continuing to focus.
3. Continue with controlled breathing for a few minutes.
4. If you sense this control of respirations is allowing for a slowing down of breathing, then try a particular imagery technique.
Examples of imagery and chronic pain control techniques include:
1. Focus on a non-painful body part, and see whether this diverts the mind away from focusing on, say, chronic back pain.
2. Mentally separate the painful body part from the remainder of the body; use dissociation to keep the pain away.
3. Divide different sensations of pain into separate parts: If a patient feels burning associated with pain, he or she might find it helpful to focus solely on the burning sensation, and not on the pain by using such sensory splitting.
4. Imagine a numbing injection of some miraculous medicine.
5. “Travel” back in time, when the patient was pain free.
6. Imagine a symbol for one’s chronic pain, for example, a loud noise; turn the volume down, and reduce the pain.
7. Use positive imagery to focus on something pleasant.
8. Count silently to divert the mind from the chronic pain.
These tasks seem silly to some; or at best, self-evident. But for some chronic pain patients, they do help. A professional may be needed during the learning process; and it may take practice before these techniques have an impact on the chronic pain patient. Such a patient should work on these pain coping mental exercises at least 30 minutes three times a week.
Source: Psychology Today
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