Self-Helpapedia

Powerful techniques to optimize your emotions, beliefs, and behaviors

Pain Management Exercises

What is pain?

A physical sensation, pain often involves thought, imagination, perception, emotion, behavior, and even our relationships with others. Pain is a valuable signal that something is amiss in our bodies. This signal appears to result from the stimulation of pain receptors or nerve endings located in our body tissues. Often we experience pain in an injury. Pain gives us a warning that requires our attention. Pain that is severe or of long duration better be medically evaluated.

Pain is influenced by the way we evaluate it. We may fire up its intensity by horrible-izing about it, by practicing "I can't stand it-itis", by viewing it as a never ending process, and by direly needing relief from it. Pain is further influenced by how much attention we pay to it or by how much we resist feeling it. We know when we are absorbed in interesting activities the pain is forgotten or becomes remote. We lose awareness of some physical sensations as we might be doing right now. Perhaps we have lost some awareness of the pressure on our buttocks or maybe we are not experiencing any sensations from our feet or arms. During daydreaming or being vitally absorbed in our work we may forget all about pain--even intense pain. Boxers are well known for absorbing punishment, yet often report a failure to notice pain during a contest. Likely they are focused on fighting, defending, and their opponent's leads and parries.

People appear to respond in different ways to pain. People have the same injuries will not always respond in the same manner. Some folks cope with an injury in a detached way and experience their pain as being "over there". Other people may not share the same labels or focus for their pain experience. What one person calls excruciating and horrible another person might label pressure and bothersome. Their beliefs influence the intensity and duration of their pain.

Folks experiencing anxiety about their pain keep dragging their attention back to their pain and thus heighten it. This anxiety also makes them tense. The muscle tension can create additional pain by diminishing of blood flow and oxygen to the tense area.

People in pain often act in pain. They complain, walk awkwardly, hold an injury, and even avoid potentially interesting activity. These actions become signals for pain and attract attention to the pain which may be resisted. This resisting serves to intensify the pain.

Here are some of the more familiar kinds of pain. One variety is "time-limited" pain or pain that lasts less than 6 months. Examples of this sort of pain are dental, postsurgical, and childbirth pain. "Time-limited" pain generally declines in intensity over time. This sort of pain is open to revision through various perceptual and cognitive exercises. Energy processes also work here.

A second style of pain is "intense & intermittent" pain. Migraines exemplify this variety of pain. Although often having physical causes, "intense & intermittent" pain can be intensified by our evaluations, imagination, and focus. Perceptual shifting, cognitive exploration, and changes in focus may benefit folks bothered by this sort of pain. Further just knowing this pain is time-limited can prove helpful for its sufferers.

A third style of pain is "ongoing variable" pain. Present most of the time and varying in intensity, "ongoing variable" pain may be witnessed in lower back pain and arthritis. Relaxation, perceptual shifting and cognitive alteration, hypnosis, and imagery work can be helpful here. Those persons, coping with kind of pain, better be aware of their motivation to lessen "ongoing variable" pain. Learning to cope with this pain can be blocked by the rewards of attention from others, benefit compensation, and not having to work at a job they don't enjoy.

A fourth style of pain is "ongoing progressive" pain. Just about always present and often growing in intensity, "ongoing progressive" pain may be seen in some cancers and nerve diseases. Detachment, imagery, hypnosis, alteration in focus, and perceptual shifting and cognitive alteration can help here.

It is also important to recognize that some pains may be created by the unconscious to distract us from various emotions. These pains are quite real and are seen in certain psychosomatic pain syndromes. Some lower back pain and fibromyalgia appear to fall into this category.

 

Warning: Never attempt to treat a medical problem without the advice of a medical professional.

Warning: Folks with a history of mental illness, PTSD, or panic are urged not to use these techniques without a therapist. If you decide to do these processes you will agree to absolve the webmaster, the webhost, Emoclear.com, and Steve Mensing of any responsibility for the application or misapplication of these processes. There is always in any process the possibility that someone could experience some discomfort.

Tips on Using the Pain Management Exercises

Some relabels or redefinitions of pain might be: (1) Excruciating might be called pressure. (2) Burning might be called warm. (3) Horrible might be called manageable.

We can make the pain of a severe injury seem distant by thinking of it as "over there", "distant", "apart from" Detachment can be deepened with imagery practice. During fevers we sometimes experience this detachment or dissociation and feel like we are slightly outside of ourselves. However, before you detach from a feeling, see what you can do by first feeling it and altering all the perceptual and cognitive overlays that might be firing it up or intensifying it.

In some instances imagining another feeling in the place of pain can be useful. Example: the numbness of ice or Novocain. Use a relaxation exercise and the following imagery: "Can you imagine a large hypodermic filled with chilled Novocain...Can you experience this icy cold Novocain being comfortably injected directly into your sensations...Can you experience the chilling and numbing spreading all through the formerly sensitive area...Can you feel it...See it...Hear it...Can you experience deep numbness there as long as you want...Can you experience the numbness spreading deeper and deeper and the sensations growing weaker and weaker...Can you feel the pleasant relief spreading more and more...(When you no longer require the numb feeling, allow yourself to fully experience the area of the former injury--really feel it.

Practicing relaxation processes may produce beta-endorphins which are the body's natural pain killers. Beta-endorphins may also be produced by vigorous exercise (if possible) and daydreaming about beautiful and peaceful places. See the Longevity Maneuver on our list of Emoclear techniques.


Let go of "never" "forever" and "always" from your pain vocabulary and replace them with "some of the time", "frequently", or "infrequently".

Let go of complaining about your pain. Complaining draws resisted attention to your pain. You don't completely feel your pain when you complain so you can't process your pain's emotional and evaluative elements.

Hobbies and work can be helpful pain relief.

Some pain can continue long after an injury has healed because the habitual imagining here has cued a pain fixation (a narrowing of focus) here. This may be the cause of phantom limb pain (Someone's lost a leg, yet they still feel pain where there is no flesh or bone.)

Many pains can be transformed into warmth, gentle pressure, tingling, or numbness. Through our imagination we can move pain to more convenient locations.

Hot water bottle are great for back pain.  Ice by reducing inflammation and producing numbness can be quite helpful for pain.

Self-Forgiveness is often helpful for diminishing some forms of pain. See the "Forgiveness Exercise" in the process section.

If doable, aerobics and walking can assist with pain management because they not only distract and can build up muscle, they produce potent natural pain stoppers: endorphins.

The Pain Management Exercises: 1 - 5

Pain Exercise I

1. Allow your physical pain to be there with no intention of getting rid of it or keeping it. Pay full attention to it and completely feel it.


(a) Say hello to your pain and thank it for its valuable message.

(b) Focus on your pain and breathe through your left nostril, while gently pinching the right nostril shut. Breathe deeply and fully. Breathe deeply and fully into your heartbeat area. Bring your attention to the pain and continue to observe it. Label it "energy". What do you notice after 5 minutes? 10 minutes?


Pain Exercise II

Use any of these processes found on the A to Z page.



Emo Integrator

Written Integrator
Emotional Writing Process

Emo Reviewer

Heartbeat Integrator

Pain Exercise III

The Shapeshifter III



Warning: Folks with a history of mental illness, PTSD, or panic are urged not to use these techniques without a therapist. If you decide to do these processes you will agree to absolve the webmaster, the webhost, Emoclear.com, and Steve Mensing of any responsibility for the application or misapplication of these processes. There is always in any process the possibility that someone could experience some discomfort.




Experiencing pain as shapes and colors has occurred in Taoist, Indian, and Tibetan meditation processes. It can be another effective way of experiencing our pain and slicing through resistance. The experience of the color and shape of an emotion can deflate emotional charge.

The Shapeshifter III

1. Forehead/eyebrows palm hold, heartbeat region palm hold, and tune fully into the pain: Lay one palm comfortably over your forehead and eyebrows. The karate chop side of the hand should be touching the bridge of the nose while your lower palm and little finger cover your eyebrows. Your finger tips should be pointing toward the side of your head. Don't press hard, just make comfortable contact. Your eyes should almost be covered by the lower part of your hand. Your fingers are slightly spread. Gently lay your opposing palm on your heartbeat area. Maintain both your lower forehead/eyebrow grasp and heartbeat palm hold for the duration of the process.

Fully tune into your pain and allow it to be there with no intention of getting rid of it or keeping it. Really feel those sensations. To feel those feelings as deeply as possible, it’s okay to briefly recall any scene you connect with the painful sensations. Use all your senses. Hear the scene. Feel the scene. See the scene. If taste or smell was involved experience them too.

Anytime you think of something instead of just feeling your target, simply bring your attention back to the pain. The painful sensations will grow with intensity as you allow it to be there with a sense of welcome. Let go of questioning whether the process is being done correctly. Let go of forcing a pain or demanding it to be there. (This demonstrates the intention of getting rid of something which creates resistance). Just allow the pain to be there and fully feel it. Let the feeling permeate all your attention. When you experience your pain in its fullness move on to step (2).

Attention: Your pain may integrate spontaneously during any of the two steps. This isn't a problem. You'll notice your target no longer has any intensity. As you gain practice you'll likely notice this spontaneous integration taking place as a felt shift in your body.

2. Breathe into the pain and ask: what shape is that pain: Breathe into the pain and ask: What shape is that pain? When you have a full feeling of that pain, pay attention to what shape it is. Round? Oblong? Something else? Just feel the sense of shape in your body.

3. Where are the pain's borders? Can you notice the space around your pain: Where are the pain's borders? Where does the pain end or fade out? Can you notice the space around the pain?

4. Does the pain have a color & temperature: What color is the pain? Is it dark, bright, pleasing, a favorite color? Whatever your intuition tells you. What temperature is your pain? Is it hot, lukewarm, cold? Does the temperature vary in spots?

5. Does the pain want you to do something: Does the pain want you to do something? Does the voice call your attention to anything in particular? Take your time and listen intuitively.

6. If your pain was accepted or loved, what would it feel like:
If your pain was accepted or loved, what would it feel like? Wait for the feeling in your body.

Tips for the Shapeshifter

It's often best to learn each individual segment or step prior to putting all the steps together and working with the process as a whole.

Occasionally breathe into your heartbeat region as this will develop comfort and and suppress resistance to the pain.

You may completely relax your tongue and allow it to flatten on the bottom of your mouth prior to starting the Shapeshifter. It suppresses resistance to the pain.

Always hydrate yourself prior to doing an Emoclear process. This lends to better performance and a sharper experience of your emotions and sensations.

Know how to use the
Shrunken Head if you begin to feel extremely overwhelmed by the pain. This will block the overwhelmingness of pain.

Set time aside for doing the Shapeshifter. Much can be accomplished this way and you'll be setting the groundwork for a useful habit.

Breathing directly into the emotion will be helpful in getting an outside perspective on it with less intensity.

Be prepared to work with whatever emotions or sensations your body provides you.

The Little Pocket Intensifier can be added to the process to intensify pain after you are well versed in the process.  Find the Little Pocket Intensifier on the
Techniques A to Z page.

To scale the level of resistance/acceptance of a target use the Acceptance/resistance scale which is basically a rating scale of resistance/acceptance, ranging from overwhelming hate/can't stand your feelings to loving and fully appreciating them.(This scale could also be used instead of the SUD Scale for measuring progress in emotional processing and integration work).

 

Measure your progress with the Subjective Units of Distress (or SUD) scale, which rates the level of distress during processing of intense or attention-grabbing emotions. 

 

Pain Exercise IV

1. After you've tuned into your pain sensations, ask your pain directly if any emotions are contributing to it being there. If any emotions or feelings pop up, fully feel them with no intention of getting rid of them or keeping them.

2. Ask your pain the following questions and wait for an intuitive reply:

Can I stand my painful sensations of 2 million dollars? Can I stand it for some extremely valuable reward? If you answer yes, you can assume you can stand it for no other reward than the valuable one of just standing it.

What part of your pain is easiest to experience? What part of your pain is most difficult to experience? Can I bring my attention back and forth between the easiest and the most difficult? What do you notice?

Looking back from 2 years in the future, how will the site of the former painful area feel then? How might I describe it to others? What will be totally different? Will I be happy that it's done with? Or will I have forgotten much about it?

What does the pain feel like right in the middle of it? What does it feel like a few inches away? What does the pain feel like 10 yards away? Repeat these questions for 3 cycles. After you've completed the exercise what do you notice?

Can you allow the sensations to migrate to various areas of your body? What do you notice?

Fully feel the pain. What is the opposite sensation of your painful feeling? Feel the pain. Now feel the opposite sensation. Feel the pain. Now feel the opposite sensation. Do this 5 times. What do you notice?

Fully tune into your pain. Now describe it out loud. Describe its:

Color
Temperature
Density
Weight
Size
Sound
Frequency of occurrence
Intensity
Wet or dry
If it could talk, what would it say?
Convenience or inconvenience
Absorbing or not absorbing
Energized or sleepy


Now go over your list and make its description more comforting. Feel the pain after the exercise--what do you notice?


What would the pain feel like if you loved it?

What distracts you from that pain, can you do that now?


If you knew for a fact that a madman was in the next room with a sharpened ax and he was calling out your name, how would your pain feel then?



Pain Exercise V (Rapid anesthesia)

1. Lay on flat surface, relax your tongue, and look up comfortably through the top of your forehead for an 8 count: For the duration of this exercise in creating anesthesia, lay on a flat surface (Bed/floor). Close eyes and look comfortably up through the top of your forehead for an 8 count. Go to step 2.

2. Lay your arms at your sides, spread your fingers so that none touch, close your eyes: Lay your arms at your sides and slightly away from your body. Spread your fingers so none touch. Close your eyes for the remainder of this exercise and continue to breathe deeply in and out through your nose only. Go to step (4).

3. Imagine tasting a juicy lemon & allow your mouth to fill completely with saliva. Keep as much saliva as possible under your tongue: Briefly imagine tasting a juicy lemon and allow your mouth to fill completely with saliva. Keep as much saliva as possible beneath your tongue. Go to step 4.

4. Place your relaxed and open attention on your pain area and allow it to remain there while you state aloud either: "this area is numb" or "this area is anesthetized, relaxed, and numb: Place your relaxed attention on your pain area and allow it to be there. State Aloud: "This area is numb" or "This area is anesthetized, relaxed, and numb." Make one or the other statement twice. Continue to allow your mouth to remain filled with saliva during the entire exercise. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until there is no sensation except numbness or anesthesia coming from the area.



Auxiliary to statements: Intuitively create a symbol of the pain and allow it to transform into ice.

 

Take care, Steve

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