Having a rheumatic disease can be painful. Rheumatic disease affects the whole body and pain can be anywhere- the joints, back, skin, heart, lungs, and GI tract, among other sites. Pain can impact your day-to-day function, interactions with others, as well as your mood. Mindfulness research continues to expand across chronic diseases that are associated with pain, including inflammatory arthritis.
Mindfulness may help with pain because it promotes self-compassion, loving kindness, and non-judgement. It helps to detach the present moment from prior experiences. Prior experiences, especially when related to pain, can be a very powerful influence of how pain is experienced. Prior experiences can heighten the sense of pain. Similarly, the mind might wander and fixate on what may happen in the future, especially if the pain increases. Thinking about prior experiences and future possibilities is often associated with judgement.
Through these exercises, we encourage you to work on staying in the present moment. These exercises will help to focus on relaxing the body, noticing the breath and body sensations just as they are. This likely will be difficult, and you should feel free to take breaks. However, the more often you practice these exercises, free of judgement, even on good days or pain free days, the easier it will be when you are having a hard time with pain.