Mindfulness for Abdominal Pain
Mindfulness practices are becoming increasingly popular in schools and in medical settings.
In the late 1970s, mindfulness-based stress reduction programs were developed as a treatment for chronic pain. Recent studies have demonstrated the severity of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms were significantly reduced in women who practiced mindfulness over an eight-week session and results continued to be sustained even 3 months after the sessions ended.
Children with chronic abdominal pain have a hypersensitive nervous system, often due to early life adverse events, previous infections, surgeries, antibiotic use, and food intolerances. The digestive system reports pain to the spine, which relays the pain signals to the brain. The brain receives and interprets the pain signal based on the child’s emotional state. Simple mindfulness techniques can be taught to children so they may practice at home and implement into their daily lives to alleviate their chronic abdominal pain.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of paying full attention to something. Being mindful means to slow down and really notice what you are doing. When you are being mindful, you are taking your time and focusing in a relaxed, easy manner.
Mindfulness is a super power. Being Mindful helps you:
- Stay calm
- Pay attention
- Avoid getting upset
- Listen better
- Be more patient
- Learn more
- Enjoy things
Where to Start?
Learning to be mindful takes practice. Mindfulness requires training your attention. The more you practice, the better you get. Slowly with time and practice, being mindful will come naturally. Start with just 1 minute of following these simple steps:
- Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position.
- Focus your attention on your breathing. Breathe normally while you simply pay attention to your breath.
- Notice when your mind wanders away from paying attention to your breath. That is normal-it is your mind wandering and getting distracted. Gently guide your attention back to your breathing again. This is how you train your attention.
- Keep breathing, relaxing, and paying attention to your breathing. Keep bringing your attention back to the breathing every time your mind wanders. Do this for just 1 minute. As you get better with practice, try for a goal of 5 minutes.
Mindfulness is currently being taught in more than 200 hospitals nationwide. Classes may also be found in schools and many places in the community. If you would like to find a class in your area, the Center for Mindfulness lists mindful meditation classes across the country.