Recently I was doing a body awareness meditation and my attention was drawn to a constant nagging pain in my upper back. Focusing completely upon this area, I breathed into and through the pain and to my delight, it eased considerably. In fact I would actually say that it disappeared…

During the meditation I was initially aware of heat and pain in my upper back for what seemed like a long time. I could feel energy pulsing and throbbing around my spine. I then felt twinges moving outwards across my upper back muscles and twinges in the trapezius muscle across the shoulder blades above. After about twenty minutes the pain seemed to be condensed into one particular part of the spine, which was the source of the problem. In my mind’s eye I had an image of two pairs of hands over this part of my thoracic spine then, all of a sudden, the pain was gone.

During this exercise various impressions kept popping into my mind. These, I realised, were the emotions and thoughts I had tried to ignore, suppressing them deep down into my physical upper back. On a physical level I realised that the pain was due to over-worked muscles when I used my arms to give healing to others. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my healing work and regard it an honour to give the gift of healing to another. However, a deeper understanding arose that I also needed to give to myself the correct nourishment of love, positive attention and kindness that I gave to others.

The following day my lower back was aching after I had been sitting in a far from ideal position. This area is weak from muscle strain a few years ago. I did the body awareness meditation again and, once more, I felt energy circling around that part of the spine, then my spine felt stronger, more solid somehow. I felt muscle twinges on the left side of the spine, and back muscles that usually ache initially felt heavy, which then eased. No negative emotions popped into my mind this time. I did however have an image of myself rushing about, trying to go through a door which was closed but when I did I ended up, somewhat embarrassingly, in someone’s private living space. I understood this to reflect my tendency to try to force things to happen quickly rather than allowing things to happen naturally in their own time.

How does it work?

So why does paying attention to a problem area ease it so dramatically? How can something so simple actually relieve pain? When we are in pain, our natural reaction is to fight it. We don’t like it, we want to get rid of it as soon as possible, so we suppress it with painkillers and carry on as normal. Energetically we distance ourselves (with our conscious mind) from the pain, ignoring it and suppressing it deep into the unconscious. Of course the problem causing the pain is still there, deep in the subconscious and in the cells and tissues of the physical body, which means that the pain can resurface as soon as the painkillers wear off.

When you meditate on pain with focused attention, the pain is allowed to express itself fully. When you fully acknowledge the pain, you can gain insights into any underlying mental/emotional issues that are contributing to the pain. Pain is often the physical manifestation of unresolved mental emotional issues, so acknowledging these issues is the first step to healing. You may also receive insight into what you are doing that is contributing to the pain, such as poor posture or repetitive muscle movement. Let your intuition guide you to the source of the poor posture and literally follow the pain around the body.

As the muscles and tissues relax and let go as you breathe into and out of that area, they release the emotional and mental pain they were holding in there which was causing the pain and tension in the first place. It is interesting to note that ‘getting the message’ is usually enough for the pain to disappear. The body just wants you to hear its message.

In addition, by focussing your attention on an area of pain, you are mentally giving that part of the body the extra boost of energy it needs to heal itself. Attention is energy, so when you give attention to something, you are also giving it energy. This method is almost like sending Reiki to yourself using the power of the mind. However you don’t need to be attuned to Reiki to get the benefit from this exercise. You don’t need to set any intention or have any expectation to heal – just allow what is there to make itself known.

Messages from your Body

Your body is always trying to give you messages. We usually prefer to ignore these messages hoping that the pain will just go away. Giving attention to the pain is allowing your body to tell you what you need to know. Quite simply our bodies are like a biofeedback mechanism. Pain tells you that something somewhere is wrong and needs addressing, usually on a mental emotional level, and shouldn’t be suppressed long term. Focusing fully on that pain by breathing into it and through it, impressions will arise concerning the mental emotional pain that has also been suppressed. When you understand this message, the pain dissipates as it has served its purpose. Now it is up to you to heed that message so that it doesn’t occur again!

Physical pain is often linked to deep-rooted emotional pain and you may be surprised or afraid to discover what has been buried deep in your subconscious. It is worth remembering though that pain usually doesn’t just go away on its own and that sometimes we do need to face what is painful and fearful in order to begin the healing process. By suppressing and ignoring pain, we are actually fighting it. I learned many months ago now that accepting what is brings the greatest peace. Sometimes we just need to allow our bodies to express themselves. Focussing attention on them gives you the loving kindness and consideration you need. If you listen carefully, your body will tell you what areas of your life need addressing and healing.

Healing Potential

By being willing to explore pain with loving attention, you are affirming that you are willing and able to face what is difficult in your life, what isn’t working for you, and that you are prepared to release it. It is incredible to think that, in order to relieve pain, often all you need to do is get the message! This exercise also helps you to change your perception of pain and the role it plays in our lives.

This technique can also be used any time you feel anxiety, fear or worry in your solar plexus or wherever you carry your tension. Focus your attention there and breathe into and out of this area.

This body awareness exercise is an excellent form of self-healing – it is so simple and so powerful. It is an excellent way for healers to deal with their own aches and pains, especially in places that are hard to reach when giving yourself Reiki. However its strength and real potential lies in its ability to uncover the underlying causes of physical problem areas and release these smoothly and easily just by focusing on the breath and breathing through the pain. This is the key to real healing.

Body Awareness Meditation

If you would like to try this healing meditation, here are some guidelines to follow:-

  1. Sit comfortably with your spine straight and feet flat on floor. Focus on your breath, letting it flow evenly in and out.
  2. After a few minutes, when you feel more relaxed, let your attention move to a part of your body that is causing pain or discomfort. Be with the pain, breathing into it and breathing out from it.
  3. Be aware of other sensations around this area such as twinges, heat, pulsing etc. The pain may feel intensified and condensed in one spot – allow that to be, just keep focused on that spot, breathing into and out of that area. Notice changing sensations and changing intensity.
  4. After a while other impressions may arise. These are feelings and thoughts held here, usually painful and negative in nature, that are linked to your physical pain. Whatever comes up should be acknowledged without judgement. Imagine yourself ‘opening’ and accepting. If you wish, you can say to yourself “It’s ok, this is allowed, I can be with this”. In this way, you aren’t saying that everything’s fine if it’s not – you are just being open to acknowledging what is there.
  5. When the pain has eased, subsided or disappeared, it is time to bring your meditation to a close. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Start to become aware of the sounds in the room to come back to full waking awareness. Feel your feet flat and heavy on the floor, if necessary with long roots reaching down holding you securely to the earth.

It is worth noting that not every unwanted physical sensation will have a strong emotional charge or underlying mental emotional cause. If that is the case, just stay with whatever sensations arise, breathing through them, letting them ease in time.

If the pain is still present when you have finished, return to it another time as there is more to be released. On the second and third occasions you will probably find there are no more emotions to acknowledge but the loving attention is still needed to promote healing.

NB. If you are working on a pain that does not disappear, it is strongly advised that you see your doctor.


I have been so impressed with the power of this technique, I would love to hear how you get on with it. If you would like to email me your feedback, I can be reached at The names of all respondents will go into a draw on 31.8.15 and the person selected will win a free half hr Reiki treatment, either distant or in person at my base on Wheeler Gate.

Helen Shortland is a Reiki Master Teacher, Holistic Therapist and Meditation Teacher based at 15 Wheeler Gate in Nottingham city centre. Helen has been on the spiritual path since 2001 and has extensive knowledge of healing and the healing journey. For further information about her Reiki courses and therapies please visit her website or ‘like’ her Facebook page Helen Shortland Holistics.

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