By Kajal Basu February 1997 You may or may not know what causes it, but pain, intense, excruciating and severe, takes you to the point where nothing else matters. And yet there is no easy way of eliminating pain CREATIVE VISUALIZATION• Relax. Keep your eyes closed while you take a few deep, easy breaths.• Imagine yourself in the most beautiful, serene place that you can conjure up.• Think of a time when you felt relaxed and peaceful—perhaps a walk in the park, a day on a sunny beach, or an evening at a concert.• Focus on the sights, smell and physical sensations associated with that event.• Now focus on the area of pain and visualize the ugly chemical cells that are causing the pain, the nerves that are carrying the pain to the spinal cord and form there to the brain. • Imagine your immune system producing endorphins, which devour toxic chemicals and sweep the affected body part clean of them, like vacuum cleaning a carpet. • Imagine that body part glowing with health and freshness. You could even repeat a positive affirmation such as ‘ I love and accept the pain in my body’. • In case you have pain in one shoulder and the other shoulder is fine, visualize that the shoulder, which is in pain, is just like the other without it. The visualization exercise, done for 20 minutes twice a day for three weeks, will show some positive results in combating pain. MINDFULNESS MEDITATION • Try to remain calm, focus on your pain. When thoughts or feelings come up in your mind, don’t ignore them or suppress them, do not analyze or judge their content. The goal is to be more in touch with life, with whatever is happening in your own body and mind—in the present moment. • Resist the impulse to try to escape the unpleasantness or the sensation of pain, instead see it clearly, as it is. Ultimately, mindfulness is best thought of as a way of being, rather that as a technique. • The three basic formal meditation practices include the body scan, sitting meditation and sequences of hatha yoga postures done slowly, gently and mindfully. • For those with chronic back pain, mindfulness reduces the degree of suffering. You also learn by watching the painful sensations.• Over time, mindfulness can help you to see your discomfort as physical sensation separate from the negative emotions and interpretations, it generates. • We often say: ‘This pain is killing me’ or ‘I can’t go on if this keeps up’. But if we stop and ask ourselves: ‘Is the pain really killing?’ The answer is usually: ‘no.’ In other words, pain becomes worse if accompanied by the fear that it will continue unabated. • This understanding is usually enough to help us develop effective strategies for living with chronic pain and disallowing it to erode the quality of our lives. MASSAGE • Choose a surface, which is not too soft, a mattress on the floor will suffice. Keep the room warm and comfortable. Use some oil to massage the area where the pain is. Vegetable oils are preferable (except peanut or corn). • Put half a teaspoon in your palm and spread it smoothly over the part that to be massaged. Keep your hands relaxed and apply mild pressure.• Experiment with all the different ways of moving your hands that you can think of. Move them in long strokes and circles. Use your fingertips. Pressing them firmly against themselves or brushing them lightly over the skin. • Gently slap or tap the affected area. Take the back, for example. The spine is the stalk of the central nervous system, and often tension and anxiety are caused by nothing more than tight, sore muscles around he back. Move you fingers straight up the back. Separate your hands at the top and bring them over the shoulder blades and then pull them back down along the sides. Do it four to six times. • Next, use the balls of your thumbs, and make short, rapid strokes away from you to wards the head. Work close to the spine just below the waistline, first of the left, then on the right. Now move to the upper back. Knead the muscles that curve from your neck to the shoulders. Work these muscles gently between the thumb and fingers. • Finally, take the heel of your hand and place it at the base of the spine. Gently press and release, moving little by little up the spine to the neck. HYPNOSIS • Sit in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes and relax. Lift one foot, let it drop gently; repeat with the other foot and arms. Visualize a repetition. • Now you are ready to take the plunge into a hypnotic trance. Picture yourself in a place where you are at complete ease with yourself and the world. • Count one to five and imagine your body sinking down and down into the chair, gradually becoming a thing apart from you. You can now transfer the pain you are feeling to another part of the body or you can consciously feel the pain less, or not feel it at all. You can also tell yourself what to experience or what to do after you come out of hypnosis, using what is called post-hypnotic suggestion. • Do not; however, be discouraged by a lack of immediate success. The fact that you are using hypnosis means you are tapping the power of your mind in a battle against pain. BACKACHE • Put an ice pack on the area of the pain an massage the spot for 7 to 8 minutes, till it disappears. Heat is also helpful and can be provided by a hot water bottle or an electric pad. This can be alternated every half-an-hour with the ice treatment. • Gently massage the affected area, twice a day, to relieve muscle spasms. • Try a spine-bath: lie down in a tub and let your spine remain under an inch of warm for 20 minutes. • Do relaxing exercises for half-an-hour a day. • Be sure to maintain a correct posture: head erect, chin tucked in, shoulders relaxed, chest high, abdomen in, back slightly curved in, buttocks in and weight evenly distributed on both feet. • While sitting, opt for a straight, firm back chair with arm rests. Low stools should be avoided as they encourage stooping. The knees should be slightly higher than the hips. • For chronic back pain, a reclining chair is good.• Don’t slump. Sit in a relaxed way with adequate back support. • Stand with your weight evenly distributed. Relax, do not slouch. • Avoid high heels. • Lie on the side in a fetal position, with your knees bent slightly. This is the most preferred position for those with a low backache. • While lying on the back, place a small pillow under your knees, so that your hips and knees are slightly bent and the lower back is relieved of tension. • It is not advisable to lie on your stomach for long. Remember, soft, sagging beds hold the spine in bent, unnatural position. • Diet is important in all kinds of pain; for example, in gout joint pains, curds, non-vegetarian dishes and cold foods should be avoided. A diet rich in Vitamin D and calcium helps prevent backaches. Back pain is generally the result of an injury or an incorrect posture. For all kinds of backaches, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory analgesics, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can be taken. But whatever you are doing—if you feel your back is getting tired, or beginning to ache, take a break. HEADACHE • Squeeze the area under the back of the neck. • Wear a headband; it helps in migraine.• Avoid strong perfumes, noise, too much caffeine, chocolates and cheese. • Try ayurvedic remedies: a paste of mucked flowers should be applied on the head. Kwatch or a decoction of fruits of chebulic myrobalan, along with nine other herbs, helps piercing headaches. Sirah suladri vbajra rasa, made of four minerals and 20 herbs, is good for all kinds of headaches. • Some general homeopathic remedies: ignatia, natrum mur, aconite and arnica. The red variety of rice, vegetable soup, milk, drumstick, grapes, pomegranate, curd or yogh hurt prepared from skimmed milk, and coconut water, are recommended to be taken during a headache. • Analgesics should only be taken under medical supervision and not made a habit of. • Keep a ‘pain diary’ in which the nature of pain, its frequency and duration can be noted down. This helps you to understand the emotional, psychological and physical aspects of the pain. • Yoga and meditation are also helpful to reduce stress, which is a major cause of headaches. Learn to relax. If you are prone to tension headaches, exercise regularly. Deep breathing also helps to relieve tension. Ninety per cent of headaches are tension-related. If it is a throbbing one-sided pain, then it is likely to be a migraine. STOMACHACHE • Fast for a day or two or just eat light. • Drink magnetized water. • Ayurveda has some effective medicines for stomachaches. Lavan bhaskar churan is the ayurvedic equivalent of digene, either of which can be taken. • Naturopathy lays down an elaborate regimen to prevent stomachaches, for the malfunction of the digestive system not only makes the stomach ache, but is the cause of many other ailments. Errend oil can be used as a laxative to improve digestion. • Drink at least 10 glasses of water every day, and at least three to four on an empty stomach. • Train your body to excrete twice a day. This prevents gas formation. • Apply a cloth dipped in cold water on your stomach, three hours after dinner, for at least 20 minutes. A warm water enema is recommended if you suffer from chronic constipation. • Eating an excess of rich, spicy food often leads to stomachaches. Be careful about what you eat or drink. TOOTHACHE • Rinse your mouth with salt water. • Apply clove oil to the affected area.• Press the hegu (meaning meeting of the valleys) point. To locate the h
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