Category: Mindfulness

chronic back pain

Ten Ways to Treat Chronic Pain Without Opioids

Alternative Treatment Methods For Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is defined as any prolonged pain that lasts more than 12 weeks. It affects more than 100 million Americans and 1.5 billion people worldwide.

According to a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) those who suffer from persistent pain spend $600 billion annually on medical treatments and missed employment.

Presently the main treatment for chronic pain is opioid and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. With such staggering high numbers of people who suffer with pain and the main mode of treatment as opioids, there is no wonder America has an opioids epidemic.

Origins of Chronic Pain

Pain originates from injuries, inflammation, or nerve disorders (neuropathies and neuralgias). Emotional stress, trauma, and PTSD can also cause chronic pain. Recent research shows the direct correlation between the mind and body. Simply put, unresolved emotional issues further contribute to severe somatic symptoms.

During stressful times our muscles tighten.   And with prolonged periods of emotional distress, tight muscles weaken, become fatigued, and inefficient.

Effects of Chronic Pain

The continuation of intense pain affects us not only physically but also psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Agony is accompanied by feelings of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Constant discomfort is complemented with a desire to be alone. Lingering pain also affects our faith. One might begin to ask, “Why would such a loving God cause so much pain and suffering?”

Relief Can Be Achieved

Chronic pain doesn’t have to be ingrained. There is a life possible without pain ruling your world.

Here is  ten approaches to begin a path of diminished aches and pains without medication; most importantly no opioids.

1. Thought Watching

Pain affects us psychologically. Pain hurts. We want it to go away instantly. That’s a normal reaction unless you’re a masochist.

It is natural for our minds to judge and ruminate about the pain. We dislike it, we think of it as not our friend, and nor do we want it to hang around.

This thought response although normal is counter-productive because most often, pain tells us something is wrong. It says, “pay attention.”

If we ignore the pain, it usually worsens over time. It also contributes to increased anxiety, stress, and depression.

The solution is thought watching or mindful awareness. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. It’s getting curious as if you are seeing/feeling something for the first time. You take on a childlike attitude.

Curiosity teaches us to explore without having an agenda. It sounds counter-intuitive but let go of the goal trying to reduce the pain.

Attune to your pain just as you are experiencing it, right now. Explore what it’s like. Is it tingly, sharp, dull, or mobile? Ask yourself, “What am I noticing right now?” Experiencing your pain as it is in the now provides a more accurate assessment of your pain.

The process of curious focus replaces the old thought record of, “I’m in constant pain.” “This will never go away.” “There is no relief in sight.” And on and on, that begins the spiral deep into the rabbit hole of depression.

2. Adopt a Worldview

Pain affects us socially. Depression sets in and with despair it is common to isolate. Isolation causes a sense of loneliness and that we are the only ones suffering.

You are not alone. Billions of people suffer daily with painful episodes. Having a sense of universality fosters compassion. You are not in this alone. There are others just like you who also suffer.

Visualize the suffering of another. Let it touch your heart. Breathe with it and evoke a sense of compassion. As you feel compassion for others who are suffering, offer yourself that same compassion.

Send loving kindness messages to those suffering and to yourself. “May my pain and sorrow be eased.” “May the pain and sorrow of others be eased.” Visualize the release and relief. Imagine what that would look like and feel like.

The mind is a powerful tool. Use it to your advantage. Your happiness and suffering depend on your imagination, your thoughts, and your actions. Take charge and remind yourself about the possibility of a spacious heart, of love, and of freedom from pain.

3. Diet

Our diet plays a large role in our over-all health. Sugary fares, fried foods and processed/boxed diets yield heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation leading to chronic pain.

Maintain a healthy diet consisting of a variety of bright and colorful vegetables. Choose organic, free-range eggs and organic lean proteins. Consume healthy fats found in avocados, olive oil, wild-caught fatty fish, and nuts. Eat 5 or 6 small meals every 3 hours or so.

Reduce or eliminate all processed foods, added sugars, and grains from the diet. Integrate natural probiotics into the diet to optimize gut flora and reduce inflammation. Good food choices include kimchee, kombucha, and sauerkraut.

4. Moderate Exercise

Exercise is good for the mind and the body. Physical stimulation lowers cortisol levels and releases endorphins, the feel good hormones.

Exercise also pumps oxygenated blood to all your parts including those in pain. The increased blood flow sends nutrients and oxygen for healing and soothing.

Get outside and get moving. You don’t have to move quickly. A slow, moderate walk 20 minutes a day and working up to an hour can help mend your mind and your body.

Yoga is another form of exercise that stretches tight muscles, teaches breathing techniques to ease your tension, and a sense of community. Go get your “Aummmm” in.

5. Social Support

Joining a group gets your mind away from your pain. With the support of others, you know you are not alone; others care, and can offer kindness and compassion.

Getting out of your head to help others eases agony also. Volunteer for a charity you support. Join a sewing, knitting, or quilting group. Take an art class. Join a walking group. Join a women or men’s support group. These are just some ideas. Brainstorm your own and break free from your same routine, isolation, and discomfort.

6. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of purposely being in the moment from one moment to the next. It is the process of allowing body and mind to come to “be” in the present regardless of what is on our mind or how our body feels without trying to change anything.

A 2015 study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found after just four days of consistent mindfulness meditation practice physical pain reduced by 27 percent and emotional pain lowered by 44 percent compared to the placebo group. Such significant findings make for promising treatment for chronic pain.

7. Music

Pleasant, romantic music with harmony and chords has shown tremendous results in reducing pain. Listening to pleasing music triggers the brain’s reward system, releases dopamine and natural opioids, the body’s personal ‘morphine’.

While listening to enjoyable music alleviates your pain, it also boosts your mood, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety and stress, and relieves muscle tension.

Music therapy is even part of the Chicago Chronic Pain Care Center regime to teach patients how to manage their pain.

8. Massage

Massage therapy is another method to alleviate pain and muscles spasms, and decrease anxiety and increase REM sleep, deep sleep. Massage stimulates your brain to secrete serotonin, the body’s natural way to ease pain and lift your mood. Massage also produces endorphins, the body’s natural opioid to relieve pain and enhance pleasure.

9. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine practice of inserting thin needles on various points on the body to manipulate the flow of energy.

Robust research concludes the efficacy of acupuncture. Findings from studies have found acupuncture helps to release opioids and other peptides in the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) that improves immune function, regulates metabolism, and controls eating and drinking habits.

10. Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF)

Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields is the transfer of electromagnetic pulses to the body. The energy exchange penetrates every cell, organ, tissue, and bone. Cellular health and function improves, pain reduces, inflammation returns to normal and energy increases. PEMF has also shown effective for depression and fractured bones.

Different people will have varying results according to their bodily needs. There are many different stimulators and very few doctors knowledgeable of the device. The FDA has approved some PEMF and others can be purchased for home use. You may need to experiment with frequency, strength, wavelength, and the type of stimulator.


This is an exhaustive list of alternative means to alleviate pain. It is impossible to try them all at once.  Pick a few items at a time and find a combination that works for you.

Possibilities are endless, results abound. Keep an open mind, listen to your body, and take small risks.  Try to maintain a diet rich in colorful vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins.  Reduce stress with meditation/yoga, moderate exercise, social support, and an attitude of loving kindness and compassion. Experiment with alternative medicine modalities and find the best regime for your daily maintenance.




Stop Anger from controlling you -- april wright therapy

Learn How to Control Anger Before it Controls You

We’ve all experienced anger whether it is felt as a mild irritation or as an intense rage. Anger is a normal and natural emotion. Anger is also an essential survival mechanism to run from danger or fight when being attacked.

Nonetheless, when it turns out of control and destructive, it can lead to difficulties. Biological and physiological changes occur such as a racing heart rate, a rise in blood pressure and an increase in the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Consistent outrage and resentment with a particular supervisor or coworker can lead to troubles at work. Constant worry or menacing about personal problems can prime problems with your personal relationships. Memories of infuriating events or traumas whether big or small can also trigger angry feelings.

Your overall happiness diminishes, and your quality of life depreciates. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. This article is to help you learn how to understand and nurture your anger.

If anger is ruling your world, it is time to give it the proper attention it deserves.  The overpowering emotion is a valuable sign that something is out of balance.  Instead of blaming others, take a few moments to look within.  Underneath anger may reside pain, fear, guilt, and shame.  Relief and peace is near with adequate understanding of the emotions that trigger your intense feelings of anger.

Holding anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to dieWhen you approach the underlying feelings of anger with love and care, you can then express your thoughts calmly. The dialogue provides an opportunity to grow closer not only to others but also to self-awareness and insight.  You can then  assertively communicate your desires and convey what you need to have them met.

To dive even deeper, relay how that particular person or event not only triggered certain emotions but also negative beliefs about you. Whenever your current reaction is over-the-top for the present situation, it means there is historical data to look into. Sit quietly and focus internally to allow the past to surface. Valuable information waits ahead.

As you reflect inward, feelings about yourself like “I don’t matter” I’m not good enough” may arise. Try to go deeper and remember how you formulated that false belief. Scan your memory and body for signals of specific persons/events –look for colors, snippets of scenes, smells, whatever comes to mind.

Next you can begin to nurture that hurt child. It could be the sad infant/toddler or defiant teenager.  They are both speaking to you telling you what they need.  You have the power to give them the love, compassion, and understanding now that wasn’t given to you when you needed it as a youngster.

As you show compassion and love to your pain, shame, guilt, or fear, empathetic and careful thought allows the hurt to diminish. Insight and self-awareness brings relief and healing. These false beliefs were passed down to you from your parents and circulated from their parents.  You don’t  have to continue the cycle of pain.

Anger is a gift. It has helped us survive danger and defend from attack. When given empathic care and understanding, anger can remind us to focus inward, and to examine how the person/event triggered hurt feelings. We all have the wisdom to provide what we need. That wisdom is a treasure chest of information that can provide internal healing. Sit quietly and focus inward to access the love, faith, hope and kindness you deserve.


Meditation In Motion: How to Meditate While Running

“Life Isn’t a Matter of Milestones but Moments” ~ Rose Kennedy

I began running when I was fourteen after meeting a young Persian woman in my neighborhood. We instantly became friends. She and I would have long, intimate conversations during our nightly runs. Our strolls through the hilly West End streets of Richmond, Virginia gave us the opportunity to become quite close. It was a needed relationship to soothe our sorrows. Her husband and my mother were often away for work. Thus our frequent outdoor outings filled with regular bolts of feel good endorphins and close communications formed a bond that helped ease our souls.

Even after I moved, I continued to jog through other neighborhoods. Running became my sanctuary. I explored new territory and escaped the pain living at home. I didn’t realize it until many years later that my regime of running was a form of meditation. It was my solace. It was the one place where I had control. I could be with my thoughts and feelings without anyone else telling me I was wrong or stupid. I gave myself the respect and listened while others were too busy to pay attention.

I reaped many health and psychological benefits from running. Running increased my lung capacity, my muscle strength, muscle tone, my endurance, and saved me through my adolescent years.

Benefits of Running

Studies support regular running increases metabolism for weight reduction, promotes good mental health, and overall mind/body/spiritual health. Jogging releases endorphins a natural painkiller and mood enhancer. It increases the capacity to focus, practice perseverance, and dedication. It’s no wonder runner enthusiasts exist everywhere.


Meditation offers many of the same advantages as running. Meditation produces the same feel good chemicals in the brain, promotes a tranquil mind, increases self-confidence, and presents moment-to-moment awareness.

Meditation Defined

Meditation is deliberately paying attention moment by moment. It is being acutely aware of what is happening inside and outside of our body and mind. Meditation is listening to our minds chatter, sensations in our body, and the connections to our surroundings.

Meditation and Running

Although most people run while being plugged-in, stopping to check and respond to our mobile mail, or listening to our iPod, taking a brief break from our digital worlds has tremendous benefits.

Mindful running is unplugging, paying attention, and making the choice to focus internally and externally. It entails suspending any agendas, goals, deadlines for the moment and enjoy the full experience of running free. Running while meditating gives the opportunity to sort through problems, find solutions, and let go of any frustrations of the day.

Mindful running is a practice. It is not a performance, a comparison, nor a pre-determined result. Mindful running is directing our attention. Soak in wisps of the wind as it softly tickles the hair on your skin. Take in the sweet smells of fresh blossoms in the air. Taste the saltiness of the ocean air if you are so fortunate or the sweat that bubbles above your lip. Bask in the warmth of the sun and delightful sights as your body swiftly sweeps through the streets. Each stride is an opportunity to notice all that we see, feel, hear, taste, smell and think without criticism, judgment, or evaluation. The regime for mindful running calls for soothing kindness and curiosity.

Personal Time

There is so much to learn from our thoughts and feelings. Running provides self-reflective time for greater awareness. By paying attention, creative solutions can be discovered. And curiosity while roaming in nature and natural surroundings can create a spiritual connection.

The next time you run leave your ear plugs, your mobile, or any other digital device at home. There is a whole world to discover and experience not only outside but in your mind.

The anatomy of anxiety

The Anatomy of Anxiety

The sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is turned on and takes control when anxiety reaches an elevated state.  The physiology of anxiety includes an increased heart rate, shallow or labored, and heavy sweating. The person experiencing the intense anxiety is easily convinced they are in mortal danger.

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