The Buddhist monk Ajahn Chah once said: ‘If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace’. 
It’s easy to get stuck, when you have pain. Especially when the pain stops you doing what you want to do. It’s natural to want to push away something unpleasant, to hold on to questions like why me, when will this stop, what happens if it gets worse, will I always be like this? But doing so can keep you going round in circles. 
Getting unstuck is easier with the mindfulness practice of letting go. You get to see sensations as transient, not permanent, and this has been shown to reduce persistent pain. 
No one’s suggesting you have to like pain. However holding tightly to a desire for it to stop can make it worse. When you practice mindfulness, you learn to observe what is happening and let it be. Without needing the sensation to be anything other than what it is. By not resisting, you are not creating more tension and stress – both of which can cause more pain and delay recovery. 

Letting go of pain 

There are a number of ways you might use the attitude of letting go to help reduce pain. 
Letting go encourages you to: 
Identify the areas of tension in your body that can accompany pain, and release them 
Notice opinions and beliefs that are keeping you stuck, and allow them to be 
Set aside judgements about whether your situation is good or bad – and any thoughts that things need to change to a timetable 
Drop concerns about how things will be in the future – it hasn’t arrived yet, and is therefore outside your control 
Avoid comparisons with others, or a past time, as these, too, are outside your control. 

Five ways to practice letting go even when you have pain 

Most people coming to mindfulness for pain have already tried other therapies and approaches. You might already get that there isn’t a magic wand. And that whatever you’ve tried so far, isn’t entirely working. Letting go is an opportunity to look at the thoughts, beliefs and opinions keeping you stuck, and release them to make room for more ease. 
Here are five ways to practice letting go in your daily life: 
Take your cue from nature. Go for a walk and watch the plants. They drop their leaves in autumn, they don’t have an opinion about the weather, they know there’s a right season for everything. 
When you find yourself thinking your pain is ‘bad’, try bringing more kindness to your thoughts. Pain is a protective mechanism and you cannot always avoid it. You can, however, reduce the suffering associated with it. To practice bringing greater compassion to your experience, try this guided meditation the compassionate self. 
Practice letting go physically. Lie down (or sit if lying is not comfortable) and gently scan your own body. With each breath, let yourself be supported by the surface you are on. See if you can allow yourself to sink down, letting go of any tension and holding, one breath at a time. 
Get into a habit of recording your thoughts around pain. In a journal, by audio or video – whatever is right for you. Can you notice which thoughts and beliefs are creating tension in your body. Can you let them go? Will you let them go? 
Forgive yourself, and others. Holding on to the past only serves to bring you more pain in the present. Start where you are, and resolve to move forward in ways that bring you more ease. 
Letting go of long-held beliefs and patterns is not easy. Be patient with yourself. There’s no quick fix for persistent pain. Being aware of where you are stuck, and where you are holding on, can help you make more skilful decisions about how to release tension. 
If you have made it this far and think mindfulness might help you, I’d love to chat. Please get in touch for a complementary consultation. 
First published by Alison Bale on Mind Insight
Tagged as: Mindfulness, Pain Relief
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