When Subhana Barzaghi was a midwife she taught breathing and meditation techniques to relieve the pain caused by contractions.
“Most of us have a habitual reaction to pain – an aversion that we react against,” Subhana, who is now a meditation teacher at North Sydney’s Bluegum Sangha, explains.
“Meditation teaches us to observe rather than get caught up in the strong sensations we are experiencing. We learn to stop labeling and therefore stop reacting. In this way, instead of tightening up against it and resisting, which causes further tension, we start to soften into it. As we do this, the pain can begin to soften and subside.”
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Pain is a huge medical problem. According to a new report from the Institute of Medicine, chronic pain costs the U.S. more than $600 billion every year in medical bills and lost productivity. Back pain alone consumes nearly $90 billion in health-care expenses, roughly equivalent to what’s spent on cancer.
Despite the increasing prevalence of chronic pain—nearly one in three Americans suffers from it—medical progress has been slow and halting. This is an epidemic we don’t know how to treat. For the most part, doctors still rely on over-the-counter medications and opioid drugs, such as OxyContin and…