This is another technique for reducing pain that involves changing the way the brain experiences the pain rather than distracting the brain from the pain. It seems to work best for neuropathic pain or chronic pain rather than acute pain. In this technique we focus on how the perceived location and extent of the pain can vary with the intention of having our brain reduce the size of the area that is feeling the pain, and perhaps moving it out of the body altogether. Over time our brain can become more skilled at reducing the extent of the pain and reducing the intensity.
Many people who are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression relate to the world as if it is hostile, or likely to become hostile at any moment. This increases their stress, anxiety or depression which can make the world feel even more hostile. Accurate or not, this is definitely not helpful. Continue reading Meditation on a Friendly Universe
It’s been a busy week. One of the frequent questions that came up was about quieting the mind and how exhausting, or even impossible that can be.
This is exhausting because we are trying to quiet our experiences not our mind. We try to suppress or stop our thoughts, sensations, feelings, memories or imaginings. But those are not our mind. Those are the contents of our mind. We don’t quiet our mind by shutting down its experiences. We quiet our mind by being calm even when we are having experiences. We develop a calm presence even in the midst of chaos. Continue reading The Mind and the TV Sets
There are many ways of using meditation to deal with pain. Many of them involve some form of distraction, placing your attention elsewhere. However, often our attention can be stuck focusing on the pain. In that case it can help to go with that and use the fact that every sensory experience, even pain, will vary from moment to moment.
This meditation technique help you reduce the perception of pain by paying selective attention to rapid and subtle decreases in the level of pain. At first the reductions are small and short, but with practice they will become larger and longer. As we practice this we train our brain to become better at reducing pain.
We tend to hold our bodies more tense than we need to and releasing that excess tension can help us relax and feel more comfortable. It can also help relieve pain, especially musculoskeletal pain.
To use this technique think of something soft and imagine one part of the body taking on that quality of softness more and more with each exhalation. After a few breaths pause and note how your body feels. Then either repeat that with the same part of the body, or allow a different part of the body to come to mind and let that part get softer for a few breaths. Continue to do this with various parts of your body shifting from one to another in a somewhat playful manner.
I made this track specifically for a couple of my patients who are struggling with neck pain and headaches, to remind them of what we did in the office.
It teaches a somewhat unusual technique for engaging the abdominal muscles while breathing so that the neck and shoulder muscles can relax. That often helps the head and neck feel more comfortable.
If you are not one of my patients you are welcome to listen, but please do not use it if it causes discomfort.
I have had a number of people tell me recently that they can’t meditate because they can’t empty their mind. Fortunately you can meditate and benefit from meditating without emptying your mind. (Personally I think that emptying the mind is useless or worse.)
Our mind does a lot of wonderful things for us, and it also does things that are not so helpful. Instead of emptying the mind, meditation allows us to explore our mind and cultivate helpful processes so our mind does more helpful things and fewer unhelpful things.
The following meditation is a brief introduction to this idea of exploring the mind.
Think of a garden. If the garden is full of weeds, then it is not very helpful. However, emptying the garden is not helpful either. We need to cultivate the garden, making the environment more conducive to growing flowers, fruits and vegetables and caring for those plants. Continue reading We Meditate to Explore the Mind, NOT Empty It
I am putting material on this site primarily as a resource for my patients so they can review techniques outside of office visits. Of course, anyone who may benefit is welcome to use the material. Continue reading About This Site
I have had a couple of patients in 12-step recovery working on a closer relationship with their Higher Power. They were having trouble with the sense of distance that the words “Higher Power” created in that relationship. Their Higher Power was up there and didn’t really want to be bothered.
Another way of looking at this is that this presence wants a close and intimate relationship with you. We can instead call it a Holy Presence or HP for short. This relationship is supposed to be close, friendly, casual and loving. You might think of your HP as someone who enjoys communicating with you, in ways like the texts and photos that you might send to close friends or family.
When we cultivate this kind of relationship we are much less likely to feel alone. We also get used to listening to that presence and allowing it to have a healthy influence on what we are attracted to, how we treat ourselves and others and our choices.
This relationship, an intimate and ongoing relationship with a sacred presence, can benefit us even if we do not have an addiction.
This is not a guided meditation but rather a soothing background that can be used while meditating, for relaxation, or for going to sleep.
I have had people tell me that natural ocean sounds sometimes have the waves crashing too fast or too loudly for them to relax to. This is a synthesized sound with the waves breaking about three times per minute.
I can make some changes if you have requests.
For high quality recordings of nature sounds I like Karl Hamilton’s work.
This audio track is a guided meditation to help you disengage from repetitive thoughts, especially those about comfort food.
This audio track is a guided meditation to help you feel a sense of comfort and a sense of being with a nurturing presence.