When I first learned focusing with chronic pain, I had no idea that ten years later I would still be using and relying on the skills to grow my life forward. That's what Ann Weiser-Cornell calls it - life forward transformative energy.
If you've been here before, you know I favor meditation and its stress reduction benefits. Well... this process takes meditation to a new level. It is like a talking meditation and it's the best resource I have to combat my migraines and the chaos they cause.
Of course, you need to consider all the other things to take care of your migraines like medication and alternative treatment options. But this form of meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, balance your emotions and help counteract those nasty headaches.
In order to deal with long term pain management, I recommend you learn some new coping skills and find what brings you joy. This can often be easier said than done!
Here are some tips for drug free pain relief:
1. Learn deep breathing or some form of meditation to help you relax. **
2. Reduce stress in your life as stress can intensify chronic pain. **
3. Boost chronic pain relief by using your natural endorphins from exercise.
4. Cut back on drinking alcohol. It's known to cause sleep problems.
5. Join a support group and meet other people living with chronic pain. **
6. Don't smoke. It can make chronic pain worse.
7. Track your activities and pain levels every day.
8. Learn biofeedback to help decrease migraine and tension headache pain. **
9. Get a massage to ease chronic pain relief. **
10. Eat a healthy, nutritional diet (meaning lots of veggies) if you're living with chronic pain.
11. Find new ways to distract yourself from the pain so you can enjoy life more.  **
** Now let me tell you how you can cover most of those with this one process called focusing.
Ann Weiser-Cornell teaches this wonderfully simple yet incredibly effective process for focusing with chronic pain. Her online video course is called The Rock and the Hard Place: Exploring the Gifts of Pain.
I did this course last year and here are some of my takeaways...
Right at the beginning Ann asks what you want from the course. I won’t bore you with my rather long list, but I will share these:
Ann then mentions exploring the gifts of pain... instantly I think "there is no relief from pain... bah humbug!" And she says one "gift is the unquenchable drive or strength to keep going."
And that focusing with chronic pain will help you find a way to be with the pain.
Ann talks about finding another way to frame what’s happening.
What is your reaction to the pain?
Are you feeling stuck and lost?
This process teaches you to turn toward what you are sensing and be with it. Ann’s first guided exercise takes you on a lovely journey… to locate the parts of your body that are NOT in pain.
As I was sensing into those parts… I drifted off becoming aware of lots of things that were happening all at once – thoughts and emotions invaded. And then I judged those, tried to ignore and dismiss emotions that I felt… and then I heard Ann saying “you are allowed to be just the way you are.”
I really didn’t explain that very well, but I felt a huge sigh of relief. And then she said...
Module two covers the two basic processes:
In class two learning to let go of the word pain was quite emotional for me. I kept thinking “this is not what I want” and then listing what I do want from life.
Pain really can destroy all of your dreams. Focusing is teaching me that I am not it – the pain, the thought(s) or the emotion(s), but that I am being with it.
I am not it.
I am with it.
She suggests keeping a pain diary.
There’s a difference between chronic pain guiding you and how to be with what it needs.
Ann calls this self in presence.
Class three deals with the inner critic. Something I’ve been working on for years. Mine is very loud and hates that I’ve had migraines for SO long and have not cured myself yet!
Class three builds on the skills in class two. And instead of telling you all of my gifts from pain I will let you discover those for yourself. But I can’t help but share these two:
If you want to learn to deal with what’s really going on inside you, in a compassionate way… focusing with chronic pain is a great skill to have. And once you learn it, you have it for life.
If you decide to join this course, let me know (you can contact me here) and we can chat about it too… not that you need me, the course has its own members area and chat room. Finding support to deal with migraines long term is essential.
This process gives you some really effective coping tools, not only to deal with headaches and migraines, but also all of the other stressful things life can throw at you.
It's not just a great tool for pain and stress reduction... after you learn the process, you can use it to feel better whenever you need to!
Until next time, be well and be pain free.
Focusing with Chronic Pain Reference:
1. WebMD (2018) 11 Tips for Living With Chronic Pain. Available [online] at: https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/11-tips-for-living-with-chronic-pain#1