THE BLOG

4 Ways to Lighten Your Loved One's Pain

06/21/2010 06:56 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

According to the American Academy of Pain Management, 75 million Americans suffer from debilitating, chronic or acute pain. That's a lot of very unhappy people, who are often times at their wits end. Pain does not limit itself to the primary sufferer. It also affects families and loved ones, leaving them frustrated, and at a loss about what to do.

2010-06-21-MPj042273300001.jpg

If you live with someone suffering from intense pain, here are four simple ways that you can help - all quotations from a Vidyamala Burch's interview by Elisha Goldstein:

1. Acknowledge their pain:

I would try to . . . simply connect with them as another human being who is suffering. I would try to help them feel that they are not alone in their pain and I would try to connect with them on the basis of empathy.

2. Ground them in the present moment:

I would talk to them about the fact that they will ever only experience the pain one moment at a time and ask them to examine how much of their distress is based on ideas of past and future (such as dreading future moments of pain).

3. Help them find some pleasantness:

I would also ask them what is pleasant in their experience right now: It might be something very simple like having warm hands, or being in a beautiful room, or feeling the gentle sensations of breath in the body. By experiencing this directly they may be a little less overwhelmed by their pain.

4. Laugh with them:

I would try to laugh with them. One thing I have found through my own practice of mindfulness and compassion is that it is always good to lighten up. Everything is changing and if I can let go into this broad sense of flow then I experience life as being much less heavy and stuck.

4 simple steps that can make all the difference in your loved one's life, and also yours!