Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dealing with Pain

Dealing with pain is a major problem for many people in these times.  Pain killer Vicodin is now the most prescribed drug in the US.  
What is pain?  It seems to come from many causes.  We have deep pain because of a loss of a loved one. We can have pain from an operation where our body has been cut open and is in the process of healing.  We can have pain from other unknown sources such as in arthritis or fibromyalgia.  Reachers now acknowledge that drugs are only a apart of the solution for those who suffer from chronic pain. 

Pain can be seen in many ways.  For example, when we work out and then feel pain in our muscles, we take this a  good sign of a strenuous workout that will lead us to greater strength.  But this is quite different from pain one suffers from fibromyalgia where there is little hope that it will ever go away.  But it is also know that those who are anxious about pain will experience greater pain for longer periods of time after surgery.  So, pain is not purely physical even though it may be initiated by a physical condition.  How we respond to can make a difference.

We can take Christ Himself who suffered torture as he was led to His crucifixion. He had the foreknowledge that this would lead Him back to heaven through His Resurrection so He could send us the Holy Spirit for our healing.  We also have the examples of the martyrs who saw joy in the horrendous tortures they we had imposed on them.  They had faith that this pain and probable death would only lead them to a union with God and eternal life in His kingdom.  As a result they gladly endured pain.

Researchers have learned a lot about the mechanism of pain in the body.  Those with chronic pain exhibit a malfunction in the brain's pain processing system.  The pain signals deviate into the areas of the brain involved with emotion, perception of danger and can actually cause gray matter to atrophy.

Researchers have found that pain can be relieved by distracting attention away from the pain.  Guided imagery, mindfulness meditation have both been shown to reduce the pain perceived by the individual.  In one study subjects reported 40% less pain intensity and 57% less unpleasantness while meditating.

Dr Mackey of Stanford reported a study where he showed students photos of a loved one while applying a pain stimuli from a hot probe.  They reported feeling 44% less pain while focusing on their loved one than on just a friend.

Now as a Christian, who do we love more than anything else?  Of course it is Jesus Christ.  We have a pain reliever that has been tested and proven for thousands of years.  If techniques such as guided imagery, meditation, or pictures of loved ones can reduce pain how much more will the practice of the Jesus prayer help us.

The practice of the Jesus Prayer is so simple yet so powerful  When we practice it for 20 minutes each day, Jesus becomes part of our moment by moment life. Then, when we have any pain, we immediately call on Him, His image, for comfort.

Painkillers can help but also can lead to overuse.  Deaths to overdoses have more than quadrupled between 1998 and 2008. Remember that pain is more than physical. True Joy always comes from an intimate relationship with God. The Church gives you all the necessary means to nurture this relationship.

More on the Jesus prayer



  1. Dr. Mackey is currently recruiting study subjects for numerous pain research studies. Instead of parading around like some prayer master with your blog and prayer rope why don't you go sit in and diplay how well you can take prayer with your advanced Jesus Prayer. LOL

  2. :)
    I wonder how he does get his subjects.


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