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Everyone at some point in his life will face the unfortunate reality of pain. For those who prefer natural alternatives to pain management, techniques such as deep breathing and meditation are gaining more attention. These methods have been used by women in the throes of childbirth for years.
Mayim Bialik, former childhood actress and star of CBS’s hit TV show, The Big Bang Theory, told Access Hollywood that she used deep breathing to cope with recent car accident injuries after the technique proved effective in managing the pain of her own natural childbirth experience. Strategic breathing, she says, helped her avoid having to take prescription painkillers.
Dr. Patricia Bloom of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York says there is a growing body of evidence highlighting the role of meditation in pain relief. Individual results are different, she adds, but the practice has helped many people lessen their dependence on prescription pain medications. Meditation is also becoming more prevalent in the treatment of enduring illnesses such as fibromyalgia.
According to Dr. Bloom pain is as much a mental experience as it is a physical one. When we feel pain, neurocircuits form in the brain. This influences our perception of pain. Many people assert that while meditation does not make pain go away, it alters their perception, making it more tolerable. Overall, there is less fear and anxiety allowing greater manageability because the pain seems less intense.
Dr. Bloom shares a few bits of advice for putting the techniques into practice. She says to set aside five minutes at the start and choose a regular meditation spot that’s comfortable and free of distraction. Instead of tensing muscles and trying to forget pain, she recommends embracing it and breathing into the pangs almost rhythmically to induce a relaxed state. The goal is to consciously focus on breathing, slowing it down to five or six deep breaths per minute.
Because the role of meditation and focused breathing in pain management is still a relatively new field, patients probably won’t hear their doctors prescribing it. However, those interested can learn more by attending the many classes available which teach the techniques.