Luckily for most of us, pain is a matter of perception, and because of that, we can “lower the volume” on it by directing our attention in certain ways. For acute pain, one of the best ways to manage it, since it’s near-impossible to ignore it, is to take a warrior stance and dive right into it, focusing mindful attention on it, breathing into it and softening the body around the intense signals of discomfort. This is pretty much what we do for the pain of labor and childbirth, and it’s an effective approach. It doesn’t evaporate the pain, but it does make it manageable, by allowing it to get out of the foreground and into the background.

For chronic pain, distraction is the key. Our Ease Pain imagery, not to mention imagery for Relaxation and Wellness, General Wellness and imagery to Relieve Stress are examples of using a pleasantly distracting narrative to gently steer attention away from the perception of pain. In addition to reducing the actual signal, it gives the listener a sense of empowerment and control over something that could otherwise create unpleasant feelings of helplessness.

In addition, Carol Ginandes’ superb CD set, Rapid Recovery from Injury , has several superb, gentle Ericksonian hypnotic techniques for reducing pain that are very effective, easy to follow and pleasant to listen to. Likewise for Emmett Miller’s Healing Your Back.

Along with guided meditations specifically geared for pain reduction, we can also use the breath to focus our minds away from the distress of pain – again, similar to certain tried and true exercises for natural childbirth. Andrew Weil MD has a wonderful audio on using the breath, called Breathing: Master Key to Self-Healing , as does Qigong master, Ken Cohen, with Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Breathing.

Finally, mindfulness meditation can be used very effectively to relieve pain, and a beautiful example of various kinds of meditation practices can be found in Susan Piver’s gorgeous book and CD set, Joyful Mind.

Other things you can do for pain:

  • Yoga Therapy can also help.
  • Energy work, such as Reiki and Therapeutic Touch, can help by supporting relaxation and a general sense of well-being.
  • You might want to try acupuncture or acupressure for your pain.
  • Some studies have shown that magnets can help with certain types of pain.
  • Medication can help for symptomatic relief, both over the counter and prescribed. But beware, some pain meds, like Demerol, are highly addictive.
  • For more specific information, visit Andrew Weil’s site,, and search the archived Q and A’s under the keyword: pain.