How Do I Deal With Physical Pain In Meditation?

It's inevitable to experience some physical discomfort whenever you meditate for hours on end. So, what's the best way to deal with it?

There are two main approaches to managing physical pain in meditation. I strongly promote keeping physical discomfort to a minimum, while others may say you should learn to bear with the pain.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the two approaches...

Distractions In Meditation

Keep in mind that physical pain is a distraction not unlike noise or the smell of food. Whenever you're exposed to distractions it's more difficult to concentrate. So, by keeping distractions to a minimum, it's easier to meditate.

I suggest you start out by meditating with your eyes closed since visual impressions are highly distracting. Also make sure you practice at a quiet place and in a comfortable body posture.

It's much easier to relax while lying down on your back than sitting on a chair or on the floor. The fewer distractions you are facing, the easier it is to mediate.

Finally, give relaxed attention to your meditation object. Trying too hard only builds up physical and mental tension.

Accepting Physical Pain

If you join a meditation retreat, you'll spend many hours meditating every day which is likely to result in sore ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders or neck.

The body gets stiff after about 30-45 minutes of sitting. As a preventive measure, I recommend that you take regular breaks and stretch your arms and legs to avoid unnecessary discomfort. Personally, I alternate between walking and sitting meditation every 30 minutes or so.

I agree that it's helpful to learn to accept a certain level of physical discomfort; it's a handy tool. When you sense physical pain, momentarily become fully aware of the discomfort and let it go. Thinking about the pain will only lead to irritation and frustration.

Some meditators love to bathe in physical pain in the quest to overcome it. But too much pain won't do you any good, since you may be overpowered by it. On the other hand, by keeping distractions to a minimum you're guaranteed to get the most out of your meditation practice.

Best of luck!

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