By Pat Anson, Editor
“Imagine standing by a fountain in a beautiful garden on a warm summer day.”
The female voice is both soothing and alluring, as she invites you into a garden and guides you toward a hammock.
"It is peaceful and safe. And no one expects anything from you here,” she says. “Here you can escape from the troubles of daily life.”
The birds are chirping. The fountain is gurgling. You close your eyes and relax.
And your pain disappears.
That’s the goal of a meditation program created by Wellmind Media, a UK company that specializes in online courses for managing pain, stress, anxiety and depression.
The 21-minute pain management course hosted at Meditainment.com (click here to see it) takes you into a “secret garden” of your own imagination, designed to help your pain seem less important. Tens of thousands of people have visited the site for pain relief.
““I was able to drift away and place myself somewhere else besides in my chair. I didn't think about the pain,” said Taber Fellows in an online post.
“Amazing! Way better than painkillers,” wrote Holly Maslen.
“Been fighting a migraine all day, and this helped tone it down to a more bearable level. Will check out the other meditations as well, thank you,” said Kristi Morningstar.
In all, Meditainment offers 18 different online courses (including one to help you sleep) that can take you anywhere from an island paradise to a mountain refuge to an arctic igloo – all without getting out of your chair. The first two courses you watch are free, but gaining access to the other 16 will cost you $15.
“When meditation is used as a form of relaxation when in pain, it can be of great benefit, reducing the fear aspect and emotional responses of experiencing pain as well as changing the contextual evaluation of stimuli, and sensory events,” said Rebecca Millard, Project Manager at Wellmind Media.
“Although we haven’t conducted any scientific research into this ourselves, there is increasing evidence to support meditation for the relief of pain. For us, the testimonials and comments on the pain management meditation speak for themselves.”
Online meditation and “mindfulness” cognitive therapy have been available for several years, and there is increasing evidence showing that they are effective in treating a broad range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and stress.
“Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment, non-judgmentally, with a gentle curiosity. It’s an awareness that emerges from paying attention on purpose to the present moment. It’s a mind-body approach, which involves paying attention to thoughts, feelings and body sensations,” said Millard in an email to Pain News Network.
“If we have more awareness and understanding of ourselves we can use this as a tool for pain management. Stress is linked to pain and too often pain is seen as something that the body experiences rather than linked to the mind.”
One study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that online mindfulness courses were often just as effective as face-to-face meetings with a therapist.
“The people choosing to use the course in this mode of delivery appear to be finding it helpful,” the study concluded. “That the levels of negative emotion reduced significantly on completion of the online mindfulness course and further decreased at 1 month follow-up is suggestive of significant improvements.”
You can try an online mindfulness course by visiting Be Mindful Online. The mindful and meditation programs mentioned in this story are offered by the UK National Health Service, but are available to anyone around the world.