Mindfulness for Pain Practice: How Would I Treat a Friend in Pain?
Begin by paying attention to your body, and what sort of posture or stance you might take that would provide some ease and comfort to you while you engage in this short self-compassion practice. Letting go of needing to do this in any particular way, just seeing if you can find a place for your body that facilitates some degree of ease and comfort. Whether it’s sitting, lying down, standing or even slowly walking, if that’s what your body needs in this moment.
Taking a few moments to allow your attention to settle, allowing the eyes to close or your gaze to soften. Perhaps taking a few slow, deep mindful breaths to settle the body and the mind. And then allowing the breath to slowly find its own rate and rhythm. Maybe taking a moment to place a hand over your heart and feel the warmth and kindness of your own touch, a gentle reminder that you, too, are worthy of your own kindness and attention. Allow yourself to fully receive this kind and supportive touch and to connect with the part of yourself that simply wishes to be happy and free from suffering. Allowing your attention to drop inside your body, and to feel the flow of your in breath and your out breath. No need to breathe in any particular way, but simply allowing the breath to breathe itself. Feeling yourself riding on the flow of the breath, breath after breath. With no place else to go, nothing else to do. Simply being present to this body. Breathing.
As you’re ready, beginning to expand detention out from simply the breath to noticing this body that is breathing. Allowing your attention to be soft and wide, taking in whatever there is to notice in the space of awareness: Tension, warmth, tingling, relaxation, pain. Even the absence of sensation in some areas, perhaps. Just becoming aware of this body breathing and all that is present in this moment within the body. If you have located any area of difficulty, challenge, or pain, see if you can keep the attention soft and wide so that the difficult sensations are only one among many things that you may notice in this moment, as if you’re viewing a landscape with many features, and pain or heat or tension is only one feature. Letting go of needing to change anything in this moment, but simply noticing things as they are, even if they’re difficult. And as you’re ready, perhaps asking yourself, “what do I need in this moment to work with this pain?” If you need to shift your position or find a different posture, letting yourself do this mindfully and with awareness as an act of love and appreciation for this body, even if sometimes it gives us difficulty.
Perhaps there are words you might need to hear right now, the words that you might say to a dear friend who is suffering with physical pain the way you may be right now. You know your friend is having a hard time, and nothing you say can take away the pain or the physical problem underneath. But even so, there are comforting words that you might say to a friend to help and support them through a difficult time. What are the words that would naturally flow from your kind heart towards a dear friend who was in pain? Words that would arise from the deep wish of “I love you and I don’t want you to suffer”? What would you say to your dear friend to comfort and support them? Maybe the words would be something like, “I know this is hard, but I’m here for you.” Or, “the pain comes and goes and I believe you have it in you to work with it wisely. Moments like this are difficult to go through, but I believe in you.” If you could come up with some words that you would offer a dear friend, could you turn those words around and offer them to yourself in this moment?
What would it be like to whisper those kind words into your own ear? Because you, too, are worthy of your own love and affection. Just taking this time to let the words echo in your mind, and allow them to land fully in your heart, to feel the importance and kindness in your words.
And any time that you notice your mind has wandered, just bringing them back, perhaps returning them to these words. And continuing to offer those kind words that you would offer a dear friend. And when you’re ready, letting go of the words, but perhaps lingering in the feeling of having been kind to yourself in a moment of difficulty. We often need to let these moments sink in and slowly they can become a habit, or a way of responding when difficulty arises and we need to access our own inner kindness to get through a challenging time.
Allowing yourself to rest comfortably in this moment. Allowing yourself to be exactly as you are in this moment, and for everything to be exactly as it is.