Mindful Advice for a Painful Shoulder

This was written to a patient after I had seen her for an initial treatment. She had developed a painful shoulder from shoveling snow earlier in the Winter.

You may want to notice your shoulder at different points during the day, or at night, or in the morning when you’re still in bed. Just quietly become aware of extra tension or holding in that shoulder. Then, breathe into it gently a couple of times.

It may relax, or it might not. What’s important is to gently become aware of what’s going on with an accepting mind and then to breathe WITH the tension, discomfort or pain. It isn’t necessary to have a goal to change the feeling, but simply to notice it and to breathe into and with it.

I’m passing this along because when I woke up this morning, I became aware that I was holding my left shoulder, one with a chronic & old injury, in a tense and elevated position. Then, I took a quiet, mindful breath into my shoulder and watched it unwind from the tense holding pattern that had crept into it. Amazingly, it felt much better once I noticed the feeling of tension and holding in the shoulder.

Sometimes we hold our hurt wings with tension, in anticipation of pain. This can set up a pain, holding/spasm, pain cycle just like an injury can. But the tools of awareness and breathing mindfully can help relieve the fear of anticipation to derail the tension/holding/spasm before it gets going.

Try this the next time you wake up with pain: Notice it. Accept it. Breathe with it. Then see what happens and get on with the day.