Mindfulness for health

I have a stressful job as a social worker and my workload has been crazy lately. My local authority has been running mindfulness courses which I enrolled on. I was slightly sceptical, especially as I've tried mindfulness before but perhaps I wasn't in the right headspace at the time. Anyway, I'm writing this because I had an interesting experience in our session today during one particular exercise. We started the exercise by closing our eyes, focusing on breathing and then, going through each part of our bodies and just noticing each body part. When we got to our feet, I got a sudden flash of pain in my worst affected foot. It was very intense. I had to take my shoe off as I couldn't bear to have anything touch it. My foot went all hot and then clammy and cold. It was only temporary but quite strange. I mentioned it to the trainer afterwards who suggested that I try so hard to ignore the pain and push it away, that when I thought about it, it just flooded my pain signals. She suggested that my method might not be the best way for managing my pain and gave me some info on mindfulness courses that are targeted at people with health problems. The research seems quite good and I am seriously considering it. I'd be interested to hear other people's thoughts.

16 Replies

  • Hi Crashdoll. I'm possibly not the best person to reply, having been expelled from the Pain Clinic! I'm sure many people will disagree with me but it seems that 'Mindfulness' is a cop out. Group sessions save money especially if we can be convinced to heal ourselves with our minds. My Pain Clinic consultant told me I could just stop taking my medication which instantly set off warning bells.

    Sorry, but that was my experience and it makes me quite angry. I really hope you get some more positive replies as I know there are people who think it helps. Take care. ToD xx

  • Hi Temple

    I don't believe that we can ever cure, or even fully manage, pain with mindfulness. I like the idea of working to (psychologically) manage my health problems in a different way. Nothing else has worked thus far and this is not harmful. If it doesn't work, I've lost absolutely nothing.

    Due to the pressures and anxieties of my job, I find that I am completely unable to put myself first. It occupies so much of my headspace, just not at work. I worry about my emotional and mental health due to my job and my complex health issues. I hope this will be something positive for me; even if it means I spent 5 minutes a day just relaxing and having quiet time.

    It's easier and cheaper for doctors to throw repeat prescriptions at people. I do think mindfulness could be part of the holistic treatment for some people. It shouldn't ever be suggested as something on its own but then neither should medications like codeine. As always, a one size fits all approach, will never be effective.

    I watched a few videos last night on YouTube and found one that I liked. It was a 5 minute exercise and I'm going to try it every night. I often lie in bed thinking about how I'm in so much pain and worrying about work stuff. Hopefully, I can reduce my 'anxiety and pain' worry time at night by 5 minutes!

    I wish you well and hope that something does help you.

  • I love the sound of this. I've read up on mindfulness & it's something that really interests me. Over the years ( because of a tragic event) I've had trouble sleeping & have tried every trick in the book to help me sleep,with no luck & then I read an article on mindfulness. I practiced what I had read, it took a few weeks but hey presto it works for me. I now try really hard to live in the moment I try not to look back or into the future. I can't take painkillers & some days, ok most days I'm in pain, so mindfulness helps me. So go for it, it won't do you any harm & if it helps 👏 I would be very interested in hearing how you get on.

  • Hi Caza,

    I totally agree. Mindfulness is free and a wonderful escapism. I realised that I have been using it for years when now it has become so popular. I was originally shown the technique way back in the 80's after post natal depression and have used it ever since. I actually thought I was just a bit odd finding my daydreaming so effective, especially for sleep, but now everyone is doing it! On the other hand, I am really just an old hippie so I guess it's ok :)

    (I wouldn't drop the meds though - for me it is complementary to them and helps me feel more in control.)

  • Kariss that me all over. I have been 'meditating' for years due to mostly to past experiences that I find so hard to move on from. I suffered extreme mental health problems due to the past and when I was younger I had spells where I had to be hospitalised. It's great that talking about mental health has now encouraged......anyhow I'm away off the point......I do that all the time.....while in the hospital a nurse who was years ahead of his time took some of us to try a 'relaxation' session. I found this to be so helpful and it stayed with me for years and still practice when ever I can. Give it a go and adapt it to suit yourself if need be. Anything, I repeat, anything that is drug free and available 24 hours a day can only be a good thing......stick with it, look around, try different techniques. All the best and get back to us about how you are getting on. All the very best, Jean.

  • I forgot to say that my 'practice' relieves everything while I'm doing it, including the pain. It helps me in way I can't really explain. The pain hasn't gone away but my attitude to it helps me to get on with my day. I see it, the pain, but I'm able to put it aside. Now don't get me wrong, there are times I'm in so much pain I could cry......and often do but when I'm able I can work through my daily pain......don't ask me how this works......someone who knows more about these things will be able to do that. I just know that it helps me with my pain and my other problems too. I can approach my by on a bit of a high......maintains that for the rest of the day......well that's another question......XX

  • I agree with you about being sceptical....but when you are stressed & in pain I reckon it's worth giving anything a go.

    It either works for an individual,or it doesn't ....if it does you're ahead of the game....if not you have lost nothing.

    From your first experience you seem to have gained an insight.....so why not take it further?

    Goo Luck whatever you decide.

  • I think anything which takes the mind off pain is worth trying. I don't know if it's similar to mindfulness but I do a short relaxation session every day, which does help with the pain because it breaks the pain+tension cycle just for a short while anyway. It's a short relaxation/breathing youtube video, then at the end when I am relaxed, I imagine my toes and fingers (or whatever joints are painful) being in a cool stream, or covered in snow to take away the heat...just whatever comes to mind. It seems to work better when the imagination comes up with its own ideas.

    Hope it helps you. I don't think the 'one size fits all' approach of group classes suits everyone. xx

  • I did a mindfulness course on-line at futurelearn.com. This website has hundreds of interesting free courses by the way. I didn't do it with pain in mind specifically, but what I learned has made me a more balanced person generally. This means I deal with pain in a more effective and positive way as well. I'm glad it took the time, it was well worth it for me.

    I hope you find something that works for you. All the very best.

  • Hi,

    I recommend it. While I don't practice as much as I need to, meditation helps to reset my mind from the tension that it's carrying around. One of which is pain. I have intrusive tinnitus and using the practices I am able to release myself from the assault so that it doesn't bother me so much. It's still there, but I'm able to allow it to pass me by, so it floats past me, rather than the stressed reaction that builds my focus on the pain - what you resist, persists.

    Similarly with the arthritis, while the pain is still there, it's less intrusive and I'm able to get away from it a bit, so that my reaction to it is not so magnified. Having constant unrelenting pain is very draining. Meditation helps me smooth/sooth my reaction to the pain so that it is less bothersome.

    I think one needs to be open to the possibility that it might be useful, rather than approaching it with anything more than whiff of scepticism. As Siddhartha Gautama said, "prove it to yourself, don't listen to what others tell you".

    How to:

    Sit. Breathe. Note all the thoughts you have and let them go by, let them pass. Note the sensations you have and let them go by. Breathe.

    Simple to describe, difficult to do!

    Good luck.

  • Mickey I know what you mean. When I am in a 'mindful' place I'm not so tense and letting the pain take over even though it can be hard to do when you are in a bad way. We I have that kind of pain my body, physically, seems to curl up into a ball. The top half of my body bends forward and I'm tensed all over. I know this is a natural reaction and is a form of protection from what is attacking me but all it does is make the pain worse and my body hardens.

    My problem is thinking positively at times like that, it can be very, very difficult. Putting unpleasant thoughts 'to one side' does become easier as you practice more.......full body pain.....well that can be a different thing altogether. Thanks for your comment. J

  • A friend told me about Neil Cooper & Abraham Hicks on You Tube. Worth checking out, Although I only liked Neil Cooper - very relaxing.

  • As an ex social worker retired on health grounds - what have you got to lose!!

  • I find mindfulness practices helpful for slowing my head down and managing the 'paper overload' banging at my door all the time.

    "Expelled from pain clinic" now that is a feat T-o-D I don't think I know anyone else who's got kicked out of a clinic before. 😎


  • Thanks for your thoughts. I've done a little exercise every night before bed and I've slept well but it may be coincidence. I hope it will help with my work related stress which in turn, should impact on my health. I shall report back after the 8 week course has finished. :)

  • Yes please

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