I mean, I have to admire people that can control their mind in such a way that they can trick the pain receptors. It also explains why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others.
However, this article just brought to mind that scene in Knocked Up where she's trying natural childbirth and then starts screaming for the drugs. There gets to be a point in birthing where you can't add drugs to the procedure and yikes. I also picture going to the dentist. I know that some people try and do this naturally. I mean, yuck.
Has anyone actually tried using the mind over pain medication in reality? If so, I'm sure we'd all be interested in hearing the results.
No, I have not had any success with "mind over pain" as that article suggests. I think yoga is helpful for some types of pain - i.e., if you have menstrual cramps then the "wind-relieving position" (one leg straight, the other bent and pulled up to the right of the torso) can really help. But I've even done Reiki on myself with cramps and then gave up and headed for the Motrin. I will say that when I'm getting regular acupuncture done I tend to cramp less or not at all when I get my period. So there's some sort of energetic component to pain.
When I was born, I had severely crippled feet. My mother refused to let the doctors amputate them, thankfully, and I spent the first few years of my life mostly at the hospital. I learned to walk with knee-high casts on, had what I call "forest gump" shoes and about 15 surgeries. As a child, this is what I knew. I think back on this now, as a mother, and think about how devastated I would be to raise my own children in this manner. But as a child, there was no difference; this was all I knew. At one point I had a "halo" on my leg, with pins going through the bones, for 3 months, and I was sent home and back to school in a wheel chair with the device on. Because I was sensitive to morphine and morphine derivatives, I often opted for regular advil to manage my pain. And after surgeries were long over, I experienced horrible muscle spasms and joint pain. So what I can say about pain technique....at some point in my childhood I started to realize that when pain came, if I tensed up, let it get me upset, the pain was worse. And unbearable. I realized that if I did everything I could to accept the pain, relax and focus on my breathing, calming the breath, then the pain would lessen considerably. It wasn't until much later in my life, sans pain, that I realized I was practicing a sort of meditation. As for childbirth....I have two boys and WOW childbirth is intense. Even my pain management techniques I'd known my whole life did not prepare me for that! But at the very worst point--transition, as it's called--I knew it was almost over and that carried me through. But I was lucky and had fairly short labors. I can only speak for myself and my own experiences. Definately I think having been exposed to such regular physical pain, and learning how to cope with it, over the course of my ENTIRE life to date, helped. But most people aren't coming from that place and have to
I don't believe it's an issue of tricking pain receptors. It's an issue of not reacting to them and doing so (or not doing so, as the case may be) over time. It is the very purpose of yoga practice, to be less reactive and more mindful.
Most of us have a role-reversal relationship with the brain. We behave as though it is the control when it is, in fact, a tool. It is not master but rather servant. So we have to retrain (perhaps even un-train) or break the habitual patterns that we are programmed with - from family, peers, teachers, coworkers et al.
I try not to use pain killers when at all possible. It starts with not popping ibuprofen or aspirin or cough syrup. And it can grow from there. But I would not advocate such a thing for my Grandfather, for example.
BKS Iyengar talks about pain in his book Light of Life as our companion. Yoga helps you in managing pain and dealing with it. Iyengar yoga therapy is all about pain management. Ultimately you could eliminate some pain, as I have been able to with my sciatic nerve problem. It may not be permanent, but for the moment it has disappeared. I do agree and intuitively understand that there is a mind aspect to pain, especially pain caused by psychosomatic problems. So there is a mind aspect and a physical aspect. The yoga asana's help combine the two to help manage and reduce the pain.