How To Stop Any Pain In Minutes – One of the most arresting images ever seen in the media was the photograph of a Buddhist monk setting himself on fire on a busy road in Saigon in 1963. His act of what is called “self-immolation” was in protest against how Buddhists were treated by the South Vietnamese government.
An American journalist named David Halberstam witnessed the “Burning Monk” with his own eyes. He later wrote, “flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. ”But what is perhaps more surprising are these words“.
As he burned he never moved a muscle,never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him. ”It was as if the monk was able to control his pain completely. How did this monk achieve this state of calm and seemingly become impregnable to the pain of burning?
We’ve all burned our hands on something before and know how much that hurts, until the nerves are dead the pain a person feels from being burned is intense to say the least. But the monk who set himself on fire was an extreme circumstance, and today we’re looking into whether smaller events that involve pain can be controlled.
For instance, what about when an evil infection in your tooth has created a pocket of pusthat causes an intense toothache. Some of you will know how that feels and might have wanted to perform some ad hoc home surgery and knock out your own tooth to stop the pain. But imagine you could just eliminate the pain, or at least manage your brain in a way that you could handle it?
The same goes for chronic backache, broken bones, ingrown toenails, the humming and throbbing caused by an insect bite. Could you really avoid all of these aches and pains using only your mind?In 2011, researchers in the USA wanted to get to the bottom of pain management and meditation.
They weren’t researching monks who had devoted a lifetime to meditation, but ordinary people. According to NPR, the neuroscientists who led the study took normal healthy individuals and asked them to attend four sessions on “mindfulness and meditation”. They then subjected those people to pain by burning their legs.
The outcome of this study was that the subjects reported less intensity of pain after the sessions, and measurements of brain activity showed that the parts of the brain that normally light up in response to pain were less active. The conclusion was that meditation might help people deal with pain, and that you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to reap the benefits.
But that’s not totally blanking out pain, it’s just a slight reduction in pain. So how do we get to the point that we can almost eliminate pain completely? We found a scientific paper online called, “Pain Sensitivity and Analgesic Effects of Mindful States in Zen Meditators: A Cross-Sectional Study”.
In this study non-meditators joined a group of seasoned meditators and they were all subjected to varying levels of pain, sometimes intense. Unsurprisingly, the meditators reported experiencing less pain, and the scientists believed this was related to how they managed to slow their respiratory rate.
A former student of vipassana meditation explained that when someone is asked to sit in the Lotusposition for many hours a day, that the position alone can be very painful. He talked about being hit by an arrow, in that first there is the pain of the piercing of the skin and after that there is the emotional pain that follows.
He said monks will observe the first pain and then ignore the second emotional response. A trained monk might be able to sit and feel pain, observe it, but then accept it. They don’t react to it emotionally. They cut off all attachment to the emotional part of the pain.
Being able to disassociate yourself enough to cut off your emotional attachment to pain doesn’t sound like the kind of thing most people can do, but we wanted to know moreso we looked online at forums where this kind of meditative pain management was discussed. Many people who had been students of mediation said they didn’t think they could get to a state where they felt no pain at all when it should be extreme.
We did find one person who said he’d practiced Zen meditation for 26 years and said, “I have actually had a crown done without Novocain, using meditation alone. ”Wow. Meditation master or masochist?If we take him at his word, then it seems even a novice can use mediation to lessen pain, and perhaps an expert might be able to deal with more significant pain, but let’s look deeper into this.
While you probably won’t ever be in a position where you’ll be setting yourself on fire,it is very likely that at some point you’ll experience chronic pain, you know, the kind of pain that lasts a while and either never fully goes away or keeps coming back. Before you ask, no, you’re never going to escape the sudden jolt of pain that comes from standing on a Lego brick, but you might be able to reduce other kinds of pain.
Dr. Ellen Slawsby, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said that she has a bunch of tactics for controlling pain with both the mind and body combined. Like the meditators do, she said controlling your breathing might help a lot. It’s simple to do. Sit down and take breaths and concentrate on those breaths. It’s just you and your breathing. It’s sometimes called “controlled-breathing”.
The New York Times writes that this is an ancient practice and has been proven to not only help with pain but to also increase alertness and boost a person’s immune system. Here’s a snippet from that story: “Consciously changing the way you breathe appears to send a signal to the brain to adjust the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which can slow heart rate and digestion and promote feelings of calm as well as the sympathetic system, which controls the release of stress hormones like cortisol”.
It sounds crazy, but one doctor who was interviewed said he had seen some of his patients transformed by simply taking some time each day to breathe in, pause, breathe out. Ok, we know that if you didn’t do that all day you’d die, but we are talking about a kind of focused breathing here, not the unconscious kind. Countless health professionals say this will calm you down.
And if you are calmed then the emotional response to pain we discussed earlier might well be lessened. Humans can exaggerate pain by letting it control us. Pain is, err, painful, but we can learn to respond to it better. Pain is of course in the brain, and so if we understand that our brains might exaggerate pain perhaps we can reverse that and lessen pain with these pieces of advice.
You might say we need brain relief to achieve pain relief. We can look at an example of something called a “nocebo”, which is the opposite of a placebo. It’s when someone feels something that gives them a negative impact on health when there is nothing there. One example we found was a man that went to hospital after stepping on a long nail.
His boot was stuck on his foot and when it was moved just a little the man screamed out,so he was given the strong opiate fentanyl. When the pain killer had kicked in and the boot was finally removed it turned out the nail had gone between his toes and missed his foot completely. There was no injury at all.
The pain was his own creation. We can sometimes be tricked into feeling pain, so why not the opposite? The website Pain Science writes about this, saying, “For every case like this there must be hundreds more where the injury is real but the patient is convinced that the damage is much worse than it really is — with proportionately exaggerated pain”.
We don’t mean to undermine anyone’s pain, but many scientists tell us we interpret pain. We give it a value, if unconsciously. Have you ever arrived at the hospital and felt safer and suddenly the pain subsided some what?There is evidence of WW2 injured soldiers feeling little pain when pulled off the battlefield with bad injuries.
In the paper, “Relationship of significance of wound to pain experienced,” it’s written that this might have been related to the fact that they were finally safe and away from that battlefield. Their sense of relief managed the pain somewhat. What this has to do with you and you controlling pain is simply that if you can lessen the mental anxiety when dealing with pain it might actually result in less pain.
As one researcher put it, you turn down the volume before the amplification happens. The experts tell us that mindfulness and positive thinking go a long way to helping reduce pain. People often think of the pain as a whole, like it’s all over them and it will never go away.
What they should do is focus on the area of the pain and then try and understand what kind of pain it is, whether a burning sensation or a throbbing sensation or something else. They should then treat it with kindness as if they were nurturing a child in pain. Once you know the area of the pain you can also then concentrate on a part of your body that isn’t in pain.
Try your hardest to focus all your attention on that area. Breathe in, breathe out, and see how long you can focus your thoughts on the non-painful part of the body. You could do this outside with the sun shining on you. You will feel the rays warm parts of your body. Focusing on other stimuli other than the pain helps manage the pain.
If anything at all can distract you from your pain then look to that thing. You might try breathing exercises, but you might also just put yourself in a position where external stimulus takes your mind off the pain. You can practice the art of being distracted. Drug addicts in their numbers have talked about how just getting up and doing something helped them to deal with the pain of withdrawal.
Take for example a man named David Linden. He is a neuroscience professor at Johns Hopkins University. This is what he said about pain and the brain: “The brain can say, ‘Hey that’s interesting. Turn up the volume on this pain information that’s coming in. ‘Or it can say, ‘Oh no — let’s turn down the volume on that and pay less attention to it’”.
In a book he wrote he said that when torturers did their work they realized that the anticipation of pain really increased its impact. Out thoughts that giveth pain and they can take it away. That’s not from the bible, that’s just us sounding biblical. Like those Buddhist monks, he said that we react to pain physically and emotionally and we need to somehow dull our emotional response to it.
When you encounter pain you might feel fear, anxiety, a sense of it never stopping. But studies have shown, for instance one published in the American Psychologist, that dealing with these negative feelings will reduce pain. We are not saying that by following these techniques you’ll be able to sit in theroad on fire and not move an inch nor make any gesture that you are in pain.
But many researchers are pretty sure that using these techniques you might have a chance of controlling your pain so it doesn’t overwhelm you. We found plenty of research saying the brain can be tricked into feeling pain when there should be none, and also research that reveals the brain can be tricked into not feeling pain or feeling less pain when there might be lots.
You never know, maybe some of the things we have said today might help you, and hey, it could prevent you from hitting those painkillers. Have any of you tried any of the methods we have talked about? Did they work for you? Tell us in the comments.