Meditation in Pain
Pain has many elements of experience which has led people towards medications , a lot of opioids. The National Institute of Health reported, "Pathways to Prevention: The Role of Opioids in the Treatment of Chronic Pain" in 2014. These factors have led to an opioid epidemic. This factor has led people to think of other alternatives which aren’t addictive. There’s this alternative known as “mindfulness meditation” which has been used to combat pain has been seen in clinical settings.
There are a lot of studies being made to combat the pain from people but since 1991 to 2011 the number of people in pain have tripled. This is worrisome as there are people who aren't given proper medications for the same. Also, there are many who are given opioids which are addictive in nature as well. Further the chronic pain is also treated through steroids. Thus, there’s an urge to find a narcotic-free alternative to treat the pain. There is a solution found to this which is a self facilitating pain therapy called mindfulness meditation which has been proven to effectively treat pain beyond the placebos and which is palliative.
Ashtanga yog sutra of Maharishi Patanjali is one of the bibles of yog practitioners where the rules, needs, conditions and descriptions with reasons have been given. In the similar way the entire reason why yog has been formed is to release a ‘Dukha’ (sorrow) from a person's life as borrowed by Samkhya philosophy. There can be multiple reasons why one is suffering, one of them is definitely pain. Meditation as stated before is one of the ways to combat this suffering. Thousands of years ago Maharishi patanjali has described meditation as:
The obstacles and symptoms (tat) can be reduced/prevented (pratisedha) by practicing (abhyasa) focusing on one (eka) method or technique (tattva).
(Yog Sutra 1.32)
The entire concept of eka tatva abhyasa is what is now called mindfulness meditation. As described by him it can prevent or reduce the obstacles to be happy. And pain as experienced is definitely one obstacle towards leading a happy life and it can be achieved by Eka tatva Abhyasa. Eka tatva abhyasa of dhyana (meditation) reduces the unnecessary modifications of mind (Yoga Sutra 1.1). One faces lethargy, dullness, low on energy because of which one isn’t able to carry out day to day routine which is required to at least maintain good health and reduce the pains and aches one is suffering from this state explained in (Yoga Sutra 1.30) on the other hand person also feels aggressive, restless, fanatic which doesn’t help us any better as it wastes our energy into something not required like anger this state is explained in (Yoga Sutra 1.31). Bothe the mentioned states are of an extremist and that is not what is yoga. Yoga is about not just balance while doing Vrikshasana but also a satvik Mind which knows when to do what and to what to think. To attain the Sattva guna predominantly we must practice meditation, says Maharishi Patanjali.
Why would we Waste Time Sitting and Meditating?
This is a question surely a lot of skeptics have in their mind.
Questioning is good. But, yog is a science which is completely experiential. But, Swami Vivekananda says, That “ Practise hard; whether you live or die does not matter. You have to plunge in and work, without thinking of the result. If you are brave enough, in six months you will be a perfect Yogi.”. However, to feed our intellect we would need some visible benefits and science behind it.
Mindfulness meditation has been found to reduce the pain (MBSR was proposed on 58 women with Fibromyalgia and it showed effective results and benefitted them in 8 months-3 years).
Mindfulness Meditation impairs Pain by psychological & neural processes.
It is more effective in pain than placebo effect without the side effects of opioids.
Psychosomatic Pain is the one which can be tackled by meditation
(The book The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders and it’s author John E. Sarno M.D. states about psychosomatic pains and talks about Migraine relating to anger)
Thus, Meditation will help a person to tackle Anger and its related problems similarly other issues like hatred (by inculcating Maitri Bhava as told in Yoga Sutra 1.34) and eliminates the rest toxins also which aren’t required and with eka tatva abhyasa (continuous practice) remove/release everything which isn’t required and ultimately Discard the pains related to it or at least increase the will to manage the pain.
2009, The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali -Stray thoughts of Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra & Hansaji, (64-74)
Complete works ofSwami Vivekananda, Swami Vivekananda, Volume 1, Raja Yoga, Chapter 6
Grossman P, Tiefenthaler-Gilmer U, Raysz A, Kesper U. Mindfulness training as an intervention for fibromyalgia: evidence of postintervention and 3-year follow-up benefits in well-being. Psychother Psychosom. 2007;76(4):226-33. doi: 10.1159/000101501. PMID: 17570961