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It may seem contrary to focus on your body when you feel pain. After all isn’t it natural to want to block it so you do not think about it? Psychologist Dr. David Kannerstein’s approach is to have the patient focus on breathing (unless of course breathing is the cause of the pain), to be mindful of each breath, and to pay attention when distracted. Distractions can be the pain, emotions, or thoughts. What is important is once the distraction is noted that the patient refocus on breathing.

When the pain is so great and the patient is unable to focus on anything else the patient is told to focus on the pain. Mentally go to the pain location. Notice the qualities of the pain. Is it a sharp or dull pain? The intensity. Whenever possible observe with detachment.

Both of these techniques are effective and patients are more relaxed. More importantly the patient learns to break the pain cycle.

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