The next time you encounter pain, whenever possible, examine it from a holistic point of view. Ask yourself, if the pain is my body speaking to me, what is it trying to draw my attention towards? Which thoughts or emotions are troubling me? For simple cues, think of what function a particular body part serves and examine whether there is any pain or conflict in the corresponding area of your life.
For example, if you are having pain in your legs and since your legs take you forward, ask yourself if there’s any fear or discomfort with moving on from some situation? If you have a headache, and since your head is used for thinking, are you overwhelmed with thoughts and worries? With habit and growing awareness you will begin to understand these correlations easily. When you are deeply hurt, do you notice a stabbing pain in your heart? When you feel burdened with responsibility, do your shoulders feel heavy and painful?
Often, this awareness and understanding itself begins to relieve the pain. And as you take healing or corrective measures for the underlying emotions or thoughts that you discover, the pain is likely to reduce substantially, if not disappear.
PET scans [scans that measure important body functions] have shown that it doesn’t matter whether people actually perform an activity or just vividly imagine it—the same parts of the brain become activated. This means that just as you can become a victim of your painful thoughts/memories, you can turn this around to your advantage, by changing your thoughts. A change in your thoughts will induce a change in the physical body.
During times of stress, endorphins [neurotransmitters produced in the brain that reduce pain] tend to fall and that causes aches and pains to increase. At other times, when endorphin levels rise—because of exercising, listening to music, or spending enjoyable times with loved ones—aches and pains diminish.
So, how can we manage our thoughts and emotions? What are some of the alternative ways to manage pain? The power of your attitudes and beliefs influences the results of any therapy. So, first become open to the possibility that any one or all of these may work for you and then try them. Here are 12 alternative healing techniques that help ease pain.
- Drink water: Dehydration is often the cause of many problems, including pain. So it is important to keep yourself hydrated. You can also charge the water with healing intentions. Hold the glass or bottle in your hand and focus loving, healing intent into the water for about a minute. Then drink the water.
- Visualisations: Harness the power of your imagination and imagine yourself looking relaxed, and in perfect wellbeing. Try guided visualisations if you have difficulty imagining on your own.
- Biofeedback: For headaches, focus your attention on your thumb and try to raise the temperature by a degree. If required, hold a thermometer with your thumb and forefinger to aid you. This attention directs more blood flow towards the thumb, away from the head, resulting in lowered pain.
- Rapidism: As suggested by Serge Kahili King, a practioner of Huna [a Hawaiian healing philosophy], rapidism is the rapid non-stop verbalised repetition of the desired, healed state for 5 –10 minutes. So for a sprained ankle, repeat ‘Healed ankle’ non-stop for about 10 minutes and see if it improves.
- Switchwords: These are like universal commands to our subconscious. The switchword for defusing pain is ‘Ice Blue’ and for defusing pain and inflammation is ‘Curry’. Keep your attention on these words or repeat aloud till pain subsides.
- Meditation: Learn any form of meditation that appeals to you. The key is regular practice. The simplest form is to sit comfortably in silence and watch your breath. Research shows that regular meditation improves immunity and helps faster recovery from physical challenges.
- Chanting and prayer: These are allied ways of calming the mind and body.
- Heart math: Shift your attention to the area of your heart and breathe slowly and deeply. Activate and sustain a genuine feeling of appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Send these feelings of care toward yourself as also the area of your pain.
- Laughter: See a funny movie, read a comic, have friends over, or join a laughter club.
- Energy healing techniques: These are extremely effective in pain management. The techniques consider energy disruptions as the root cause of emotional and physical disease and are geared towards correcting this energetic imbalance. I have seen astounding results from Reiki, Tapas Acupressure Technique and Emotional Freedom Technique.
- Reflexology: Nerve endings in the palms of the hand and soles of the feet correspond to the various organs and body parts. Stimulating these points with mild pressure encourages healing and pain relief.
- Massage: It helps relax the body, flush out toxins and increase endorphins.
Just as it is easy to get a loan when you have the collateral, it is best to be convinced of an alternative pain management tool—especially when not in pain.