How to relieve chronic pains by ‘Focusing on breathing’ and ‘Gentle stretching’

Caution: Follow the advice of your doctor at any time. While stretching, use your good judgment. Avoid aggravating the pains. Limit the range of movement so as not to cross your pain tolerance level.

‘Focusing on breathing’ relaxes the muscles. Stretching them gently while focusing on breathing relieves the chronic pains. Practise the following routines in the order described.

Technique of ‘Focusing on breathing’

Two modes of ‘Focusing on breathing’ are presented here – ‘Triple segment mode’ and ‘911 mode’.

Segment mode: This mode is very effective for relaxation. This is how it is done.
Every finger has 2 cross lines, dividing it into 3 parts. We call them segments. Place the tip of the thumb at the top segment of the little finger and breathe three times. Move the thumb to the middle segment and breathe three times. Move to the bottom segment and breathe three times. Repeat these steps at the next 3 fingers. At the thumb, place the tip of the index finger on its segments and follow the same steps. Then switch to the other hand and repeat the process all over. Continue to practice, switching the hands. If you realize that you lost track of the breathing, start immediately from the top segment of the little finger of any hand.

911 Mode: This mode is effective for diverting the mind from pain and also tones it down. Breathe in deeply into your abdomen. Breathe out through pursed lips with a little opening at the center, like blowing air through a straw. The out-breath becomes slow and long.

Practicing the ‘Segment mode’  to relax the muscles

In phase 1, practice the ‘triple segment mode’ at night to fall asleep quickly and enjoy  quality sleep. As soon as you wake up, continue lying in the bed and practice the mode. In phase 2, practice it during the day without falling asleep.

Phase 1: Insomnia is a common feature of chronic pain. It deprives you of precious hours of healing sleep and also aggravates the perception of pain. Practice this technique to enjoy quality sleep and conquer insomnia.
At night, lie down in the bed preferably on your back. If you don’t like lying on the back, adopt any other comfortable posture. Close your eyes and practice the ‘Triple segment mode’. You will be surprised how quickly you fall asleep. When your sleep gets disturbed in the night, get back to sleep using the same mode.  Don’t lose even minutes of sleep.
When you wake up in the morning, continue lying in the bed, keep your eyes closed and practice the same mode. Keep your body in different positions and be still in each position – lie on your left,  on your right, on your back and on your chest. In each posture, be still and practice the mode completing breathing on both hands. Every passing day you will feel more relaxed.

Phase 2: Lie on your back on a cushioned but firm and flat surface, like a carpeted floor. If you can’t do this, lie down anywhere, in any posture. Keep your body still and practice the same mode during the day when you won’t fall asleep. Practice for about 45 minutes. When you like its impact, increase it to one hour. Practice twice a day, before breakfast and before dinner. Use an alarm or timer to avoid stressing yourself thinking “when will the 45 minutes end?“. In the beginning you will be very impatient to end the practice. Bear with the impatience to reap the immense benefit of this practice. In a few weeks, you will become addicted to this healing practice!

In a few days or weeks, you will feel more overall looseness in the muscles, including the painful ones. The level of pain will come down. You will enjoy this partial relief from pain. It is now time to move on to gentle stretching.

Gentle stretching with ‘Focusing on breathing’ to reduce the pains

Stretch all the muscles
Practice gentle stretching as advised in Yoga or any other system. The idea is to give a gentle stretch to all the muscles. One Yoga routine is shown in this video (1). Skip those parts of this video which are very difficult at this time. Add them when you develop some confidence in this process.

Stretch the painful muscles using the ‘Segment mode’
Imagine it is the right hand that hurts when raised sideways. Raise this hand just enough to cause tolerable level of pain. Hold it still in this position and practice the triple segment mode using the left hand. Complete as many fingers as you can. Now let the right hand down to its normal position. Wait till the pain is totally gone. Repeat this stretching routine a few times, resting in between, to allow the pain to subside. Practice like this twice a day. Every time, raise the hand only to the extent you can tolerate the pain. In a few days, you will find that the right hand raises much higher than the first day without hurting too much. The general rule is to hold the body part at a tolerable level of pain and practice the breathing.

Move the painful part using the ‘911 mode’
In this routine, move the painful part matching its movement with breathing in the ‘911 mode’.
Again imagine you are working on the right hand. Stand with  your right hand by the side of your body.  Breathe in deeply. Begin raising the right hand slowly while breathing out through the mouth as described in the ‘911 mode’ above. Match the upward movement of the hand with the out-breath through the mouth. Raise it only to the extent you can. Don’t allow the pain to cross your tolerance level. When the out breath ends, stop moving the hand. As soon as the in-breath through the nose starts, begin moving the hand downwards, back to its resting position. Match the downward movement with the in-breath. Repeat this upward movement matching with the out-breath and downward movement with the in-breath a few times. Repeat this exercise after a few hours. Continue doing it twice a day.The fear of pain will ease to a great extent. You will see a significant improvement in a few weeks.

Use this gentle stretching practice with any hurting part of the body, hand, leg, shoulder, back or neck. When working on a part, adopt a suitable posture of the body. Let this stretching routine get well set over a few weeks. Then try the moving routine below.

(1) VIDEO – Stretching for beginners
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