Our bodies are absolutely fascinating when it comes to pain. Have you been wondering why you can sometimes endure pain better than at other times? How we feel, act and think during painful situations can have a huge effect on the actual experience.1 Also, how we interpret the situation has a big impact, such as catastrophizing or negative thoughts we associate with it. Usually, pain attracts our attention and most likely induces negative emotions. However, there are several techniques that can have a positive impact on the sensation of pain and decrease the experienced severity. Let’s take Wim Hof as an example. He is an extreme athlete who set multiple records in enduring very low temperatures including fastest half-marathon barefoot on ice and snow, and swimming under ice. So, how can he endure these extreme situations and, more general, how can everyone decrease the sensation of pain?
Science behind the experience of pain
When dealing with pain, research suggests that breathing, relaxation and mindfulness exercises, can be effective in many different painful situations, for instance, child birth and for cancer patients.2,3 Also Wim Hof’s method includes breathing as a fundamental technique to his success.4
In one study, US scientists discovered specific mechanisms in the brain why the above-mentioned techniques work.5 They conducted an experiment where heat was administered to the participants as the painful stimuli. As preparation, the experimental group was given regular mindfulness/meditation training in which non-judgemental behaviour towards themselves was trained as well as breath awareness. The control group listened to e-books during these times. During the experiment, the experimental group was instructed to meditate as taught, disassociating the experience from the body, not judging arising sensations and focusing on the changes in breathing pattern without controlling it. The sensation of pain was reduced by 30% in the experimental group! With MRT measurement it became evident that different areas in the brain are responsible for this. On the one hand, painful sensations were simply not being transmitted during meditation. On the other hand, areas for self-perception were de-activated which comes close to loss of consciousness.
Zhineng Qigong and meditation
The above findings suggest one of the many answers to why Zhineng Qigong is so effective: The exercises and techniques are highly meditative. Movements can be mental or physical in nature as the consciousness induces our life force Qi following what we visualize and how we move our body.
Let’s take the left-right meditation as an example. Here, you intentionally use the mind to move Qi from one side to the other. You try and let go of anything physical and thinking about the process. This meditation has already lead and continues to lead to pain relief for many practitioners, for instance, arthritic pain, pain after surgery and knee pain.6
Role of the breath
Have you ever observed how babies breath? Their tummy inflates like a balloon, absorbing Qi (life energy) from the air and providing all energy needed for a successful development of body and mind. As an adult, the breath becomes shallower. For restoring vitality and nourishing health, we have to remind ourselves of this original breath and return to it. While practicing Zhineng Qigong, the mind is relaxed and the breath becomes automatically deeper. Without much effort, we apply deep breathing during practice which provides support for our journey to well-being and maintaining good health 😊
Hunyuan Qi Therapy and Life Changer Worldwide
During our Hunyuan Qi Therapy program or by joining a Life Changer program, you will get equipped with meditative self-healing techniques that will support you and others in pain management among many other amazing benefits. To find out more, go to our websites:
- Steven J. Linton, William S. Shaw, Impact of Psychological Factors in the Experience of Pain, Physical Therapy, Volume 91, Issue 5, 1 May 2011, Pages 700–711.
- Smith, C. A., Levett, K. M., Collins, C. T., Armour, M., Dahlen, H. G., & Suganuma, M. (2018). Relaxation techniques for pain management in labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (3).
- Wang, H., Liu, X. L., Wang, T., Tan, J. Y. B., & Huang, H. (2022). Breathing Exercises for Pain Management in Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review. Pain Management Nursing.
- Riegner, G.; Posey, G.; Oliva, V.; Jung, Y.; Mobley, W.; Zeidan, F. (2023). Disentangling self from pain: mindfulness meditation–induced pain relief is driven by thalamic–default mode network decoupling. PAIN 164(2).
- Stamm, B. (2018). Left-Right Meditation. Zhineng Qigong Science Worldwide, (1).