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Managing Physical and Emotional Pain – Mindfully

Do you suffer ‘Chronic’ Pain?

The use of the term ‘Chronic’, in medicine is (loosely) defined as a health condition, detrimental to well-being and lasting continuously for more than a few months! For example, depression, anxiety, back pain, respiratory illnesses, such as bronchitis, or emphysema.

Whereas, ‘Acute‘ describes a ‘sudden onset’. For example, chest pain, sudden back pain, headache. It may be something requiring an ambulance or hospital assessment.

Mindfulness and Pain!

A great deal of my work involves sharing the benefits of ‘mindfulness‘ with clients who are suffering enduring psychological, and sometimes, physical challenges.

In mindfulness, we are fundamentally bringing even greater awareness to our senses, our thoughts and emotions; our environment.

So why, you might ask, would we want to bring into even sharper focus, that which is hurting us?

The reality is, we already do!

If we think about this, the moment, we notice a change in our moods – or physiology – and we focus on it. We place all our attention on the headache – or tooth-ache… and boy does that hurt!

And the alternatives?

Try this clever little exercise for your ‘acute’ physical pain.

Imagine, or recall, having a toothache. (We know toothache’s are dreadful!)

We can choose to take a painkiller, such as paracetamol – or we can consider “How does the rest of my body feel right now?” Then – place all your attention on areas of your body that are without discomfort.

Literally, in that moment, I have reduced my pain perception! I have removed, or reduced my attention from that which is causing me to re-call, to re-cognise – just what pain can be.

Finding Acceptance for Pain

“What we resist – persists”

If we choose, as is so often the case, to intuitively ‘push back‘ against our discomfort, we may be unable to help our automatic programming, residing in our sub-conscious to ‘let go’.

This is important, because when we resist, close the door to that which will keep knocking anyway, whether thoughts or pain, anxiety increases, which then turns up the volume of awareness and sensitivity. Or to put it another way, the pain gets worse!

We then learn yet another point of reference for the next time we suffer, and it is THIS we recall that makes our pain on each occasion so much worse. It is our ‘perception’ of what the pain means that causes a ‘second strike’, so now we’re not only hurting from the tooth-ache, we’re emotionally hurting and ramping up the pain from our thoughts about the pain!

You’d like to know more?

This kind of objective thinking is useful whether suffering acute or chronic, physical or mental discomfort. But you’ll need to investigate more; become inquisitive and interested if you really want to make this a feature of your life for when the expectations are not reached, and people or situations disappoint.

For more on this and other areas around well-being, do subscribe to my blog posts, or write and let me know how you overcome your challenges – or how I might help if you haven’t so far.

Wishing you all every peace, Bob


Bob Brotchie is a British counsellor providing private services to clients in the privacy, and comfort, of a truly welcoming environment at his company office. He can be found at Anglia Counselling Ltd, located near Newmarket in Suffolk (GB). Bob also provides counselling, online, for international clients all around the world.

Therapeutic models are often centred around mindfulness, with clients finding 'peace' via the integration of Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) principles.

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