It's important to face your pain and the muscle tension, sweating, and irritability that goes along with it, explains Robert Bonakdar, MD, director of pain management at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego. The idea is to relax your body and to become aware of your pain without judging it or fixating on it. "Pain patients want to run away from it, but mindfulness allows patients to go back into this dark hole, coming to terms with the pain, and addressing and controlling it," explains Dr. Bonakdar.
"You cannot experience pain unless you focus on it," says Gabriel Tan, PhD, a pain psychologist at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in Houston. "Let's say you're focusing on your pain and then the next moment a person comes into the room with a gun and threatens to kill you; you won't feel pain because you'll be focusing on the man with the gun. Meditation helps you shift your focus in somewhat the same way," explains Tan.