Meditation and Physical Pain

We are pleased to share a new video from Matthieu Ricard focused on the role of meditation in dealing with physical pain. How can meditation practice address the different aspects of physical pain?

There are several factors that make an intense physical pain hard to bear. This includes: the sheer intensity of the pain, the anticipation of the pain, an the anxiety caused by the unpredictability of the pain.
How can meditation be used for those different aspects of physical pain? Two approaches will be considered: taking a step back from the pain and watching it with open presence; and filling one’s mind with love and compassion.

Open presence

Studies in the field of neuroscience show that the so-called 'open presence' meditation is effective in reducing the unpleasant aspect of the pain. In this very vast and clear state of mind, it is acknowledged that the pain that is going to occur will be a disturbance, but not such an important one on a relative level. This helps retain a greater sense of inner calm and peace as the pain is about to come. When the pain actually does come, it is still experienced to its fullest, but the open presence blunts the sense of identification with the pain.

The expression open presence has generally been used rather loosely to describe various meditation types.  You can find an introduction to this type of practice in the beginner-friendly Stability and Clarity course.

Love and compassion

Cultivating constructive, wholesome states of mind such as boundless, altruistic love and compassion is another strategy that can be used to deal with intense physical pain. As neuroscientific research indicates, filling one's mind with love and compassion for others reduces the unpleasant aspect of the pain.

Several Imagine Clarity courses cover mindfulness and compassion in detail, with reflections and meditation guidance made available. Please find more info in the article At the Heart of the Healing and Hope.

As beginning meditators, we can be easily overwhelmed when facing intense pain. Nevertheless, both open presence and love and compassion can be efficient strategies and help reduce its negative effects on the mind. You may stay weeks or months with the same set of practices, and you may also return to a specific meditation course after a while and find nuances and insights as your practice and inner resources evolve.

Do not hesitate to contact us in case you need advice concerning your meditation practice or any topic related to the app usage.

With warm winter wishes,

The Imagine Clarity team
Photo: Matthieu Ricard
Continue

News

View all

Elements of Human Flourishing

Beliefs And Inner Experience

New collection on genuine happiness

New meditation toolbox series

Meditation and difficult emotions

Explore Imagine Clarity by Topic

Viewing one's life as meaningful

Motivation, meditation, dedication

Practising regularly

Meditation and Physical Pain

Creativity and Meditation

What is Your Vision?

The Union of Stillness and Motion

A Path of Insight Continues

Mindfulness of Phenomena: A Path of Insight: …

A Path of Insight: Mindfulness of the Mind (3/4)

Mindfulness of Sensations: A Path of Insight (2/4)

A Path of Insight: Mindfulness of the Body (1/4)

Starting where you are

The two wings: Wisdom and Compassion (4/4)

Central to our very existence (3/4)

Insight Through Feelings (2/4)

Back to basics (1/4)

New Awareness of Awareness Practices

Awareness, View, and Conduct

At the heart of healing and hope

New advanced course: The Awareness of Awareness

Inside the Endless Om

New Course: Observing the Mind

A message for you from Matthieu Ricard

What is a Spiritual Path?

Meditation and everyday challenges

Finding your inner space

Remember your good heart

You are not alone

Making a difference

Finding your flow

Stillness and turbulence

What reality?

Clarity, Compassion and Genuine Happiness

Defining your goals

Walking mindfully

The spark of creativity

How can I train my mind?

Conative intelligence and flourishing

Essential qualities in leadership

New loving-kindness practices

Meditation Practice Foundations

Thoughts of the day

Heart to heart

Finding the Moment

Creative Journey now available on Android

Stability and Clarity: a new course from Charles …

Revised and expanded Creative Journey

Knowing yourself to know the world

This summer: Emergences

This summer: Mind & Life Europe

This summer in Arles

Creative Journey with Maria João Pires

Meditate with Imagine Clarity in Arles

Music and meditation evenings in the Théâtre …

50 years in the Himalayas, exhibition of …

Discover the redesigned Imagine Clarity app

Everyday meditations

Mindfulness of Phenomena

Join the Newsletter

In our complex world, refining our view from within is vital. Join the Imagine Clarity newsletter to receive inspiration and advice on meditation, personal growth, and the cultivation of wisdom and deeper insight.