Trapped in the Box We Call Pain

Without it, we wouldn’t know we’re alive and we couldn’t tell if we’ve been hurt. But too much of it can become an all-consuming drain on our attention. 

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When Josie walked through the door to class her face showed the pain she was in. She lay down for the guided meditation that started the class. The meditation slowed down her fast and shallow breathing some, but the pained expression on her face stayed firmly in place. Josie suffers from IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a chronic intermittent pain syndrome that manifests as painful spasms in the gut.

After the meditation we went around the circle and shared how the week had been with the pain levels and the mindfulness practices we were learning. When it was Josie’s turn, she told us that a new flare-up had just started last night, and she couldn’t sleep because she had such a full workweek ahead and worried how she’d make it through. She was also scared it would get as bad as it had been a couple of months ago, when she had to be hospitalized and put on much stronger medication with heavy side effects.

Chronic pain in the US

Chronic pain affects more people in the US than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined: more than 100 million adults. More than half of them feel they have little or no…