A mindfulness technique to find peace from stress and pain

November 1, 2019

The other day I was speaking with a client of mine who suffers with a chronic health condition called dystonia, which is accompanied by chronic pain. I also live with dystonia and chronic pain, which I have had since 2001, so I am very much able to relate. He was sharing with me a situation he was in where he was feeling stress, anxiety, and pain, and then how he mindfully focused on taking one deep breath and how much that one breath helped to calm him down in that moment. This reminded me so much of the research and work that I have done in the area of trauma, stress and stress management, the power of breathing, and how it all relates to our health, so I feel compelled to write a little more about it. There are much more expansive topics about all this in my books, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges

After our conversation, one of the main thoughts that came to mind is how many of us live our lives with a sense of urgency. In other words, many of us have a hard time sitting with ourselves or sitting with our pain or sitting with anything. What I mean by “sitting with” is not running from or mentally/emotionally reacting to or fighting things that we may or may not like about our situation in life. When we run or emotionally react, we initiate the fight or flight response which keeps stress levels high, which then negatively impacts the symptoms of whatever health condition we are suffering. For me, as I mentioned, it is dystonia and chronic pain.

For people with anxiety, even when they are at rest, their mind is always going. I know this from personal experience, as someone who once suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks. My mind was constantly racing. It still does at times. To try and make it easier for me and others to find a sense of peace in the moment, I came up with a very quick and easy way to get into a better head space when we feel urgency, anxiety, and the need to rush around. As a side note, there was a time when my anxiety was so constantly ramped up that I literally could not sit for a few minutes without feeling this unbelievable urge to move around. The problem was that because of my pain and horrible symptoms of dystonia at the time, I was not able to move around, so I was caught between a rock and a hard place.

I realized that I had to learn to sit with my discomfort. I had to learn to be okay with what I viewed as not okay. You can click here to read my other article on this topic. By practicing various mindfulness techniques daily for many months and years (still to this day), I have switched my mind out of the chronic fight or flight space. By doing so, it helped ease some of the symptoms of dystonia, so I am able to move around more comfortably and do the things I need to for my condition. But the first thing I had to do was learn to put my mind in a pause mode to calm the adrenaline running through my body.

When I feel like the train is running off the track, so to speak, I say to myself, PAUSE. BREATHE. RESET. It stops me in the moment to keep me from running further off the track. It sounds so simple, and it really is. That’s why I like to use it when I don’t have time to meditate, do breathing exercises, and mindfulness activities. It’s amazing how just that 5 second PAUSE, BREATHE, RESET practice can totally change how I’m feeling in the moment. I encourage you to try it and see how it makes you feel. You can do it anywhere at all that you feel the need to pull back. You can be at a traffic light or traffic jam, stuck in a long line at the store, running around doing 10 things at once, when having a racing mind even at rest in the comfort of your home when you feel a sense of urgency, in pain, feeling sadness, anger, or remorse. We can often find our emotions getting the best of us, raising stress levels. This is why I love this tool because it is so easy and quick, and great for the “in the moment” anxiety.

The power of the pause is such that it can literally change your day and put you into a totally different mindset. The power of the breath is too long to go into here, but suffice to say, breathing has health benefits such as detoxification, it releases tension, relieves emotional problems, relaxes the body and mind, massages organs, strengthens the immune system, improves posture, improves digestion, balances the nervous system, boosts energy, improves cellular regeneration, and elevates moods, to name just a few.

Many people I speak with wake up in the morning with a sense of urgency and anxiety. This is a great time to PAUSE. BREATHE. RESET, and then begin your day. We have all heard the saying, “I got up on the wrong side of the bed today,” as a way to describe why they or someone else is having a bad day. There is some truth to this because the way we start our day can often determine the kind of day we will have. It is probably best to start the day in a place of peace, so allow yourself that extra time, if you have it, to go into that place of peace. For some it is easy and for others it is a challenge. As with anything, it takes practice, so please practice with this mindfulness technique, or others, if you are challenged in this area. It can have profound health benefits.

So, the question we should all be asking ourselves at this point is, “how often do I pause during the day, whether it be a moment, a minute, a half hour, an hour, and so on?” Most of us probably don’t do it near as much as we should. Our lives can often feel like we are on a hamster wheel or always trying to catch up. Just waiting a few minutes for something to warm up in the microwave can feel like hours to some of us. Tell yourself to PAUSE. BREATHE. RESET whenever you feel out of control. It literally takes less than 10 seconds to do, but the benefit can last hours when practiced on a regular basis.









Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network, Brain & Life Magazine, The Mighty, and Patient Worthy. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.


6 responses to “A mindfulness technique to find peace from stress and pain”

  1. Consuelo Montoya says:

    Hi Tom I am reading your book and it’s tough to read, because of the way you dealt with your dystonia, but I have learned from your journey. I had dystonia since I was a little girl, I was bullied and made fun of, because of the lack of professionals ,I just learned to live with it and my epilepsy. I don’t know which was worst, but I also feel very blessed because of my disability I didn’t not let it define my life, I was able to go to college, graduate get married and have a career in teaching. My dystonia was a part of me and I dealt with it the best I could. I was finally diagnosed aat the age of 67 by a movement disorder specialist, my neurologist set up an appointment with the specialist, he asked me many questions, watched as I walked forward and back. Finally I had a diagnosis is was cervical and facial dystonia ,w discussed the treatment options we agreed on the botox treatment and it works. I get my botox every three months and there appears to be very little movement. Thank you for letting me share my experience with you and thank you for the email you send me regarding different ways of dealing with this disorder

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Hi Consuelo- Thank you very much for sharing all of that. I am so sorry you went through all of those things for so many years. You are a shining example of the torment a person can live, yet still rise above it, perhaps higher than if they had not gone through those experiences. If you haven’t read it, you might enjoy my article on Post Traumatic Growth. Here is a link to it. https://www.tomseamancoaching.com/ptsd-vs-ptg/
      I am so pleased to hear that Botox has helped you so much, and that the things I send out also make a difference. Thank you!

  2. Reba Smith says:

    Thank you for all your words of compassion and wisdom of your own(with how much you have suffered and in turn from that-have sought out how to help others. Like the fruit of your pain.) Something that you said rings so true of me. Since I was little I have battled with anxiety, depression and even at one point agoraphobia. My work, was the avenue of how I worked with, overcame, and shoved everything (good and bad) in the back seat so to speak. It turns out, our body’s have limited compensatory measures. And like a chink in the dam, it all eventually broke…and the waters flooded my life….not just mine-but my family and a few close friends. Work was how I dealt with everything. By putting it in the backseat. But eventually, my body gave out on me and won the argument(no more backseat). Today, is one of those days. I left a message with my MDS(bc I know my Primary Care Dr & Neurologist would just tell me to contact my MDS, bc they don’t know what to do with me). And it’s been a week, no reply. Periodically, I am choking on my food, my vision has been blurry for weeks now(eye Dr said was normal vision, but this is Neurologic…and you know how this goes-you need to see your Neurologist….and then his office says, you need to see your MDS). I am so tired of it. I even did intensive counseling for 6 months. Sone regards it helped, but the Dystonia didn’t magically disappear, as I hoped it would. My primary care is a Nurse Practicioner…and she said,’ there’s nothing wrong with you. How can I help you today?’ And then she refers me off to anyone I ask. It’s physically and mentally exhausting to go through this. But it’s do much worse…when Dr after Dr tries to pawn you off to other Dr’s. At first it made me angry, but now it no longer does. They’re not bad people that don’t care. They just don’t know what to do with me. And pass the buck so to speak. I have had two Dr’s drop me as a patient (1st Neurologist, Rheumatologist, one primary care Dr). I am so tired. I hit the pause button so to speak and it just allows me to cry in privacy of my home.
    God bless you Tom for all you do.

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Hi Reba- Thanks very much for your message and sharing all that you did. You have certainly been through quite a bit! I know what you mean about those arguments with our body and putting our well being in the back seat. Sometimes those lessons end up being rather painful. I’ve been through quite a few myself. Hopefully, knock on wood, history teaches me to think differently and approach life differently with regard to many things from what I have learned living with this health condition. I’m really sorry to hear that you are dealing with such frustration with the doctors. I reached the point where I pulled way back from seeing so many doctors because it was so emotionally frustrating that I began to feel worse physically. I couldn’t take, “I can’t help you,” anymore. I found that to be very helpful. I hope you find the doctors that you need who will give you the attention that you deserve. Thank you again for your message!

  3. Deborah Seminerio says:

    Hi Tom, I just read this and your other article as well. I couldn’t agree more and I too have learned so much over the last 11 years since being diagnosed with Dystonia. I’ve read your book which is great and tried a number of different modalities – most of which help in some way. I just wanted to tell you about the most recent one I’ve become involved with Are you familiar with Neil Durrans and his hypnotherapy? I started working with him 5 months ago and I have to say I’ve made some great progress His story is pretty interesting but I thought you might want to look into it . In addition to working with Neil, I’ve started reading one of Dr. Joe Dispensa’s books called “Your Are the Placebo” It is really great and his story is also so interesting. If you’re not familiar with these guys, just thought I’d mention both and see if you’d like to look into them. They’re philosophies and teachings are very much in line with how you think and how I think also. It’s helping me a lot . Let me know your thoughts if you do decide to check them out. Wishing you continued good health, Sincerely, Debbie

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Hi Debbie. Great to hear from you and thank you very much about the articles and book! I am familiar with Neil and have had some contact with him. I have not as of yet utilized his services, but it’s great to hear how well you have benefited! I’m a big fan of Joe Dispensa. I have not read any of his books, but I enjoy the many videos he has on YouTube. Thanks very much for your comments and wishing you the best!

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