Contemplative Practices in Action: Spirituality, Meditation, and Health

By Thomas G. Plante | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
“Shaking the Blues Away”:
Energizing Spiritual of Chronic Pain

Amy B. Wachholtz and Michelle J. Pearce

If you would lose your weary blues Shake ‘em away

—Original words and music by Irving Berlin, 1927;
revised edition: revived by Ann Miller in Easter Parade, 1948

While there is a great deal of research supporting the use of meditation and quieting spiritual practices for the treatment of chronic pain, there has been less mention of those practices that energize and focus the spirit in the effort to decrease pain. In this chapter, we will explore the use of energizing spiritual practices to reduce the experience of chronic pain. This will include a review of multiple religious cultures, including Native American and Pentecostal Christian, which will provide a unique insight into this relatively unexplored area of pain management. We will also briefly discuss how physical activation may positively affect the physiological pain pathways and the perception of pain. Finally, we will discuss how other individuals may begin to integrate these practices into their own pain management techniques.

An unknown author once wrote, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” This inspirational quote suggests that we are able to both influence and transcend our experience of pain. Pain is not a one-toone relationship between the tissue damage and the pain sensation. Instead, we are active interpreters of our pain sensations. We make these interpretations through the filter of our belief systems, and resulting emotions and behavior. Chronic pain is more than simple tissue damage.

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