Can mindfulness help manage pain and mental illness?
In the German night sky, there were hundreds of parachutes falling in a routine army training exercise.
It was this jump that would cause former United States Army Ranger Monty Reed more than two decades of pain. Reed fell from about 100 feet after another parachute interfered with his descent. He broke his ankle and back and to this day has trouble walking and feels discomfort when he breathes.
“I felt like the physical pain that I deal with every day was an enemy I had to fight,” says Reed, 45, of Seattle, Washington.
But eventually, says Reed, a therapy technique that incorporates mindfulness helped him deal with this pain and the flashbacks he got from various army training situations. Mindfulness as a concept comes from Buddhism and is key to meditation in that tradition. It means being present and in the moment, and observing in a nonjudgmental way, says Susan Albers, psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Mindfulness encourages you to accept who you are, and trust yourself. Don’t judge yourself for having the feelings you have — just allow yourself to feel them.