One of the challenges in being an acupuncturist is helping people in chronic and severe pain. When I was in London last week I popped into the Science Museum as they are running an exhibition called Pain Less. This exhibition looked at some areas of research that are going into finding help for the one in five people who suffer from chronic pain but do not respond to the currently available pain treating drugs. A good proportion of my patients come from this group of people.
Now fortunately for me either acupuncture or the micro-electric current machine Alphastim usually makes a difference. But there are times when despite everything I can throw at it the pain is only reduced for a day or so, or it refuses to budge at all. The exhibition helped to put some flesh onto the bones of an idea… I would like to be able to offer something that might help these patients and a combination of meditation and yoga is something that I think might work.
The research that caught my attention stated perfectly how I believe pain affects anyone of us and the different circumstances that can make it seem worse:
“Pain is more than a physical response. How we experience it is affected by our genes, memories, expectations and emotions…”
“Perceived pain can be affected by sound, temperature, our surroundings as well as our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes”
Whilst nothing can be done about your genes (choose different parents!) or your memories, my experience as a yoga teacher and meditator has shown it is possible to change expectations, beliefs and attitudes, to slow down and clarify our thoughts and to be less affected by powerful emotions.
Changing our mindset may not stop the pain completely, but apparently it can reduce its intensity by about 40%. For some patients that might be enough…