In the course of my studies I came across a technique that intrigued me. It dealt with breathwork and pain management. Is it really possible to breathe away your pain? It seemed too good to be true.
Well, as it happened, I had the opportunity to put it to the test in a dramatic way. About a year or so ago we were building on to our office. We had to move some heavy metal I-beams that we were using for the roof structure and I was acting as a guide, holding a rope (or tag-line) that was attached to one end of the beam to keep it from swinging around and hitting things as it was lifted. As it was being lifted from the ground, the beam snagged on another beam and began to tip it over. My instinct ran amok, and instead of running away, I stepped forward to steady the beam (like a mouse thinking to steady an elephant). The moment I began to move I knew it was the wrong thing to do, but it was too late; the beam fell over and landed on my foot.
I was extremely lucky. There was a metal plate welded on the end that kept the beam from cutting off my foot. However, the pain was intense.
As I sat on the ground, holding my breath against the pain, I remembered reading about self-anesthetizing and breathing away your pain. I figured it was worth a try. I had to wait for help anyway. So, I focused my breathing and just kept breathing until…miracle of miracles…the pain faded away.
And it didn’t come back.
I admit that I was skeptical that this technique would work. I only tried it because I had no other tools available to me at the time. It turns out that focused breathing triggers your brain to release endorphins (your body’s natural pain killer) and it can be a quite powerful form of pain relief. I have used it since to great effect for all types of pain. The only thing it has not effectively relieved is headache (I think this is because I find it very difficult to concentrate when my head hurts).
The following is the breathing technique I used.
How to Breathe Away Your Pain
- Focus on the area of pain and imagine yourself taking a breath in through that area.
- Breathe in through the pain, allowing your belly to expand with your breath.
- Breath out through the area of pain in a slow, steady stream.
- After a brief pause, breathe in again, slow and steady, expanding your belly, breathing in through the pain.
- Pause briefly and breathe out through the pain, slow and steady.
- Repeat this breath, keeping it deep and steady, relaxing into your pain instead of fighting it. Keep doing this until the pain eases (it can take some time, be patient and stay focused on your breathing).
This remarkable technique may take some practice, but I can testify that it works in a wide range of cases. Give it a try and let us know what you think.