Physical Health

Long-term physical conditions, including chronic pain, can have a devastating impact on our mental health.

There is strong evidence that mindfulness-based practices can help us better manage our chronic pain. By helping us develop a new relationship with our physical condition, mindfulness can increase our awareness of the thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations that arise within us from moment to moment. This might sound like a bad idea, since most of us assume that focusing on our pain makes it worse.

Mindful awareness, however, is a very different sort of awareness. Our minds have an unfortunate habit of clinging onto negative thoughts, feelings and physical sensations to the point where, far too often, we find ourselves unable to think about anything else. We may try to ignore our problems or brood on them to seek a solution, which doesn’t help where there is no physical cure, as is the case with many chronic health conditions. In fact, dwelling on our condition tends to lead to more suffering, leaving us more anxious and distressed. We end up not only dealing with the actual physical pain/discomfort, but also our reaction to it.

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