Citation: Theta Theta. "Reduction of Pain and Stress: An Experience with Meditation (exp55392)". Erowid.org. Oct 2, 2006. erowid.org/exp/55392
For about a year and a half or so I have been suffering from a condition known as Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome, or CPPS for short. My particular problem results from chronically tightening the muscles of the pelvic floor resulting in an inhospitable environment for the nerves and tissues in that area. It was quite painful and confusing before I figured out what was actually happening to my body. The bulk of my pain centers around a region called the perineum, where a few highly localized muscle spasms in my levator ani refer pain around my prostate and all throughout my pelvis. In combination with physical therapy for the tightened muscles, I have taken up a type of meditation called 'Paradoxical Relaxation.'
Paradoxical relaxation is a three-step process with the end result being a very relaxed body and mind. It does not center on ecstatic or other-worldly states. It is mostly for the purpose of resting the body and quieting thoughts. The beautiful effect of this relaxed state is usually an almost 100% reduction in the level of pain I was previously experiencing. When I first accomplished this, I was overjoyed at the new sense of control I had over my symptoms. Although my symptoms still wax and wane, this is quite possibly the best tool for dealing with them. It works on par with taking a load of muscle relaxers or Valium with regard to pain reduction.
The typical relaxation session for me lasts around 45 minutes, and I usually do it twice a day. To begin things, I synchronize my heart rate and my breathing. Usually I let my heart beat 6 times for each in breath, and 6 times for each out breath. This lowers my breath rate to somewhere between 6 and 8 breaths per minute. Around 15 minutes of this is extremely relaxing in itself if I don't have the time to do the full relaxation protocol. I spend between 15-20 minutes doing this breathing technique (the exact time I spend doing this I'm not sure, I only have a timer to end the session completely). While I'm doing this, I multitask and observe the general state of my mind and body.
While I breath on beat with my heart, I observe my thoughts. I do not attempt to do anything about them, or assign any meaning to them. I do not attempt to stop the thoughts at all. If a thought occurs, which happens invariably hundreds of times, I “put it aside” and bring my attention back to the beat of my heart and feelings within my body. Usually my and muscle tension and pain begins to drop during this time.
The second phase is progressively relaxing all of the muscles in my body, beginning either at my head or my feet and working my way up or down. It's important, however, to never force a muscle to relax. I merely observe its tense state at let it relax on its own. This is a godsend for pain caused by muscular tension. At this point my pain reduces almost 99% by the time I work my way through my body. Thoughts may still distract me at this point, but it's still important to have a passive attitude towards them. They're just little blips of consciousness, nothing to get worked up about no matter what the contents. They're completely transient, just like everything else in this world. It's important not to cling or dwell.
The final phase of the relaxation is to relax the muscles of the eyes, and the muscles of speech (including the tongue, jaw and the throat). This, I have found, is extremely difficult. They seem to constantly spasm, and thus thoughts and imagery keep coming. I find this connection very interesting, because each thought and each image is always associated with small movements in these muscles. Mind-body connection indeed. On rare occasions I have been able to let them completely relax, and the resulting state is completely devoid of any thought or image. It is very peaceful, what I would call “going back to the womb.”
Meditation has been a great aid to me. It has helped me overcome thought patterns that have kept me depressed, reduced my level of stress in dealing with this very painful condition as well as the pain itself, and increased my overall awareness. I believe that it has truly saved my existence, and I plan on meditating for as long as my mind and body allow. It has shown me great insight into the transient nature of thought and feelings. The skills I have learned have gotten me through many rough days and nights. It has also taught me to slow down, not be so preoccupied with the world of symbols and material, and focus on the true moments that define life on earth. Often when I come out of relaxation I feel like a child again, curious, fresh, content and light.
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