Studies have demonstrated that negative thinking, or ruminating, can ramp up any pain we feel. We also know that the emotional part of the brain is stimulated by emotions, causing physiological changes in the body. Other studies have also demonstrated that bottling up how we feel can actually result in pain, or other symptoms, via this same unconscious part of the nervous system.
Taking time to be aware of how you are feeling and also to 'be allowing' of any pain, rather than resisting it, can actually help you resolve it. In contrast to this, ignoring how you feel can result in symptoms and being fearful of, or frustrated with, the pain can intensify it.
The following exercise can help you not only acknowledge how you feel, but reduce or resolve any pain you are experiencing, however chronic it is.
Sit or lie somewhere quietly with no distraction, then start with three or four slow deep breaths to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system which will help you begin to feel more calm. Know that this whole exercise should be done with compassion and acceptance of whatever you notice.
Scan your body from the crown of your head down through your body and limbs to see if there are any areas of tension or discomfort. As you come across any areas of tension notice them and quietly tell the tissues to let go and relax, then move on down your body. Notice any other areas of pain, discomfort or emotional tension, but pass these by for now as you continue to notice and let go of any tension.
Once you have completed the scan, take your attention back to an area of pain or discomfort you would like to resolve first, whether this is a physical or emotional feeling.
Say to yourself:
“I accept this (discomfort) and recognize it is merely a message to be acknowledged. I acknowledge this message without query or resistance and know that by allowing it to be there I will gain understanding and will soon have no further need for it.”
Allow the discomfort to be there and even if it initially builds up and overwhelms you, allow this to happen without any resistance. After a minute or so, say again:
” I accept this (discomfort) and I let go of the need to change it.”
“I accept this (discomfort) as being a lesson in becoming more allowing of myself, others and situations.”
The more allowing and accepting you are of this discomfort, the less resistance there will be and gradually it will settle down and even dissipate. Remember, fear and other negative emotions stimulate the emotional brain, which then ramps up the level of pain, so this exercise helps to counteract that while also providing the opportunity to acknowledge any unresolved emotions that might be causing the symptom.
Do not allow yourself to analyze anything, just say the statement in your head, or out loud, and accept that if there is understanding to be gained, it will come to you sometime. If any emotion surfaces, acknowledge it and breath it away.