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A Spring Lesson on Mindfulness: Dealing with Pain and Illness

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It comes as no surprise that when we are sedentary, our mind shifts without provocation. And for those of us who live with persistent pain and illness, its source sticks out like a thumb that was just smashed with a huge hammer, red and swollen, throbbing, and begging for attention. But unlike a sore thumb, chronic pain and illness do not heal with time. Want to or not, we must acknowledge it.  Through acknowledgement, we learn to accept it. And, when we learn not to scream, ridicule, or judge pain, fatigue or chronic illness, we do better.

“But only a person in the depths of despair neglected to look beyond winter to the spring that inevitably followed, bringing back color and life and hope.”  ~Mary Balogh

Biofeedback gives us hard evidence that our mind does have an effect on our body. Mindfulness boosts our defenses against the myriad of problems living with chronic pain and illness can bring to our door. So, what can we do to calm down the brain when it wants to take on a mind of its own? We can learn to be mindful.

Our pain or other illness is not the villain here; instead, it is the result of a bad character insulting our body. It doesn’t want to exist anymore than we want to experience it. So, being hard on it isn’t helpful, it won’t make it go away, and it won’t make us feel better.

In your journal, or in this book, write down what you think you MUST do. Now, go back and decide what it really is that you NEED to do. I suspect you will find the Must Dos that keep getting pushed to the bottom of your inbox resolve on their own. If you are having trouble giving up the driving force of stress-inducing thoughts, pick up a good CD on mindfulness. There is a difference in living a packed life and living a full life.

Ten Lessons from Pain:

  1. Acceptance of what is.
  2. Compassion for the less fortunate.
  3. Change is not a bad word.
  4. Humility is a virtue.
  5. Strength in not surrendering to stressors.

Can I make a list of my own ten lessons on pain?

The above is an excerpt from: Broken Body Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain, SPRING DEVOTIONS, Day Seventy-five.

Remember, there will be times when no matter what we do to negate it, pain will demand its just course. During these periods, we should be particularly aware so our mind-body interaction can heal. Whatever means you use to become mindful, whether it be prayer, meditation, structured action, silent retreat, creative visualization, T’ai Chi, just do it! Procrastination is not our friend.

You can find other topics, tips and exercises in our books (Jeff Miller, PhD, coauthor) and more. Take a few minutes to go through the table of contents for Spring Devotions.

 “We are all subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; they are around us, in a space we do not control.
This book is a gentle, yet forceful reminder that the best defenses against them reside within – in a space we do control,
welling up from resources we can learn to cultivate. Hope here is equally soft and irresistible, much like Spring itself.”

~Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center


Celeste Cooper, RN, is a frequent contributor to ProHealth.  She is an advocate, writer and published author, and a person living with chronic pain. Celeste is lead author of Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain and Broken Body, Wounded Spirit, and Balancing the See Saw of Chronic Pain (a four book series). She spends her time enjoying her family and the rewards she receives from interacting with nature through her writing and photography. You can learn more about Celeste’s writing, advocacy work, helpful tips, and social network connections at CelesteCooper.com.

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