By Maureen Pratt
Chronic pain can make us feel isolated and helpless, especially if its cause is an illness or physical condition for which there's no cure or effective medical treatment. At times of deepest despair, finding ways to nurture our spirits can help us not only cope with the pain, but also discover nuggets of grace, comfort, and productivity that can move us through and beyond the helplessness and hopelessness we feel. Here are ten spiritual tools that can help you get started toward peace in spite of and in the midst of pain.
When we are in great pain, finding true peace and comfort is not easy. But it is possible, if we first try to still our worries and fears, both external and internal. Finding a place where there are no noisy distractions is a great start. Enjoying the outward quiet, we can then calm our inner selves and nurture peace within.
The act of breathing is not only a physical process, but it can also be a tool to move our pain, negative thoughts, and worry out of our bodies and hearts, replacing these with a better sense of self. In a quiet place, breathe in slowly and deeply, then let the breath out, expelling stress and pain with it. Feel the sharpness of pain subside as relaxation and calm take its place.
Listen to Music
A beautiful piece of music can inspire our spirits and soothe our pain like no other sound. It can also help us get in touch with the absolute joy of living, even if we live with severe pain. Put on your favorite piece of music - instrumental or vocal - sit back, and close your eyes. Let the music carry you away from your immediate pain to a place of calm.
Lose Yourself in Prayer
So often when we pray, we ask for relief from our pain and leave it at that. Perhaps more effective when pain is oppressive is lifting up our pain and then resting quietly with the comfort that our concerns are being tended to by One greater that ourselves - and we do not have to take them back again.
Reflect in Nature
Pain can isolate us and make us feel very much alone. But in reality, we are part of an amazing world. A walk in the outdoors, a glance outside at a garden, a quiet moment with a beloved pet - each of these things can renew our sense of belonging to the world, help us to feel less alone in our pain, and make us grateful for our lives among such wonder.
Pain itself is no laughing matter, but the act of laughing can be physically and spiritually healing. It helps us breathe deeply, cleanses tense pain from our bodies, gives key muscles beneficial exercise, and lets us travel to an uplifting place of joy. Whether it's a joke, a cartoon, or the antics of a pet, find laughter and enjoy it often!
Reach Out to Others
When we are in pain, it can be easy to feel as if no one cares. But there are many in the world who feel the same thing - and we can make a difference in our lives and in others' lives by reaching out in comfort and care. A phone call to a hurting friend, a visit to someone in need, even an email to an online support group - all of these can help us become less isolated, and help others in the process.
Live in the Light
It's easy for our souls to be flooded with darkness when pain is sharp and overwhelming. We can combat this darkness by bringing on light. The flicker of a candle, the warm glow of one small lamp illuminating a dark room - light can help focus thoughts and bring comfort. Even in the darkness, be conscious of the light all around, and let it guide you to greater calm.
Take Care of Yourself
Often, there is no cure for what causes our pain. This can make us feel as if our lives are out of control. But the better we take care of ourselves, the more we will feel at least a little control over our circumstances - and our attitude toward pain. Taking time to follow a healthful regimen reflects on our spiritual health, too, and gives us a chance to rise above our pain and feel better - inside and out.
Never Lose Hope
Each day, there are new developments in medicine and in therapies to ease pain, inside and out. Hope is not just a feeling that things will be better - it is a tangible tool to motivate and guide us through the frustrations that accompany pain into positive actions that can make our lives better now and in the future. Without hope, our spirits wither. With hope, as with the Creator, all things are possible!
Show hospitality to strangers for, by doing that, some have entertained angels unawares.
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