Mindfulness and Injury: 4 steps toward optimal healing

The path of recovering from an injury can be painful, frustrating and can impact every aspect of your daily life, including your mood.  I am currently recovering from a challenging injury and I am so grateful for my mindfulness practice.  

Exploring the healing journey through the lens of mindfulness has helped me ease pain and discomfort while at the same time, meet the setbacks and limitations that come with injury, with equanimity and peace.

Check out the list below to see how attending to present moment experiences, while following habits of mindfulness, could impact recovery and the healing process.

  1. Being kind and gentle toward yourself and the injury

There is nothing worse than being frustrated and angry with yourself for having an injury.  Do you notice negative self talk toward yourself for getting the injury? Do you speak harshly to the body part that is in pain or discomfort?  ‘Stupid knee”   “I’m such an idiot.”  “My body is useless.” 

Does this sound familiar?  

This kind of negative self-talk has the potential to create more tension in the body and could impede your healing process, not to mention making you miserable at the same time.   What if you switched the dialogue and spoke words of kindness and love toward the body?  “My knee needs extra love and attention today.”  “I love my body.”  “Accidents happen, I don’t need to be hard on myself.”  How could this kind of loving dialogue affect the healing process and your overall mood?  

2.     Letting go of wanting things to be different
Nobody wants an injury, but accepting things as they are is part of the healing process.  Listen to your body so that you can respond skillfully to your pain or discomfort.  Pushing through or ignoring an injury can lead to further injury and/or potentially chronic pain/discomfort.  How would loosening your grip on how things should be and acknowledging how things really are impact your healing process?  How could this impact your overall mood?

3.     Giving yourself permission to take time to heal

The body needs time to heal.  Be patient. Take time in your day to do what you need to do to attend to the injury.  This could be resting, stretching, icing, applying heat, moving, meditating, eating nutritious foods, getting plenty of fluids, and/or anything else that feels nourishing to the mind and body.  

4.     Bringing kind curiosity to the injury

Scan the body and notice the sensations around the pain, what are its qualities and boundaries? How does the pain change over time? Ask how you can support healing at home or at work.  What can you learn from the injury? Are you compensating and straining a different part of the body? What can you learn about yourself in terms of how you are reacting to or responding to pain/discomfort? Is your inner voice harsh/judgemental or kind/supportive? 

Mindful healing begins with acknowledging how things really are in this moment. Investigating the injury with a kind curiosity with these types of questions could provide you with valuable information about your experience. 

For example, you may notice:  
Wow! I didn’t realize I am so mean to myself!
The pain doesn’t seem as bad when I lie down and focus on my breath.”

As a yoga teacher, I appreciate how all bodies are different and how we need to honour and respect both its potential and limitations.  During times of injury, I invite you to reflect and bring kindness to your experience.  Using the injury as an opportunity to learn more about the body and how you react/respond during times of difficulty.  If you are currently dealing with pain or injury, I wish you a speedy recovery.  Bringing mindfulness to your journey of healing is not a magic bullet, but it could positively impact the healing process and improve your overall mood in the process.

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