One wet and wintry day I was reluctant to go out for my afternoon walk. I'd had a bad night with sciatica and back pain, followed by a busy morning. I just wanted to curl up with a book. But...
I knew from experience that if I missed my walk and I stayed sitting or lying down I would end up with more pain, not less.
Somehow I found the energy to put on my wet weather gear. I tightened my hood to keep the rain out and stepped out into the stormy conditions.
Soon I became invigorated as I splashed in puddles and was whirled along by the wind. I started to take a real interest in all around me.
I saw catkins dancing
and pussy willows softly gleaming in the rain. My path led across a field where gulls and crows were feeding. They let out great squawks and caws of annoyance at being disturbed and took to the air.
The gulls whirled round and round in the wind before settling down again. The rooks tried to fly in a straight line to a tall tree, but were buffeted by the wind making zigzag patterns against the sky.
I love to observe birds' habits. I watched as they all settled down on the field to feed again. Time seemed to stand still.
Suddenly I realised I had been standing for too long so turned around and headed for home.
As I went back indoors I noticed my pain had diminished and I felt uplifted and re-energized.
I was feeling like this because I had stopped thinking about the pressures of life and had come totally into the present moment. I was watching the birds intently, as though for the first time.
The science is that our brain has limited capacity and can only take in a certain amount of information at a time. And so our brain tends to take most notice of whatever it considers of most interest and importance at each moment.
Our job, as people with pain, is to give our brain something to think about that is more interesting than our pain! Something that will distract our brain from the pain.
You may not have a handy field of crows and gulls to wonder at, but anything that you find totally absorbing, and preferably enjoyable, will produce the same pain relieving effect.
Be fascinated and curious about everything around you, it really does take your mind away from pain.
Add this technique to your toolkit of pain relief suggestions and seek out moments that divert and hold your attention throughout the day.
Find out more...
A 'Must Listen' broadcast from the BBC
On Start the Week, early in February, the discussion was about how to harness the power of the mind in the fight against chronic illnesses and pain. Jane McGonigal, describes her fight to recover from a brain injury and depression. She designed alternate reality games, including the free 'SuperBetter' game. The game reportedly gives people a sense of control over their own health.
Listen to the programme on the BBC website
Jane McGonigal's website: http://janemcgonigal.com
Jane McGonigal's Free SuperBetter game:
In the same programme, Jo Marchant's book, Cure, looks at the latest research into the science of mind over body.
Jo Marchant's website: http://jomarchant.com/
Jo Marchant's book, Cure: Amazon website page for Cure
From our Shop:
Jan Sadler's best selling Pain Relief Book and Relaxation CD
Your Goals worksheet PDF: Step 1 of your goals.
Your Goal Achiever worksheet PDF: Step 2 of your goals.