Beyond Pain Guided Meditation

October 12, 2007

We’ve just published our latest podcast episode, Beyond Pain. It was hard to come up with the right title for this one. The experience of pain is so complex. If we are speaking of physical pain, the pain itself is just a sensation in the body. Unless you are someone who enjoys pain, and there are some people who do, pain is much more than “just a sensation in the body”. It can create enormous suffering.

What makes the sensation of pain so difficult? Besides the fact that it can be so strong that it grabs our attention totally, making it difficult to focus on anything else, there are many ways that we suffer with pain. Much of the suffering comes from the thoughts and emotional reactions that we have along with the pain. It may trigger fear, sadness, anger, or frustration depending on our past experiences and beliefs. We may start to wonder how long it will go on, what it means, where it will go, and whether or not we’ll be able to endure it.

There may be some underlying feelings about the pain that are very subtle and not so obvious, like the sense that it is a punishment or due to our failings. It can bring up a sense of abandonment or betrayal. Pain can bring up all sorts of feelings. Next time you are experiencing pain, you can investigate what comes along with it and also whether the suffering you are experiencing with the pain is from the pain itself or everything else that it brings up.

The purpose of the Beyond Pain meditation is to bring about a greater sense of ease with the presence of pain. We may tend to tighten up and resist pain which in fact makes it worse. The meditation encourages you to relax into the pain, and to let go of the involvement with all the mind’s stories about the pain and the emotional reactions to it. It can help you come to a place of peace in spite of pain. Whether or not the feeling of pain becomes less, the suffering that comes with pain can be released.

We’d love to hear about your experiences with this meditation and invite you to comment!


24 Responses to “Beyond Pain Guided Meditation”

  1. maura lace on October 29th, 2007 6:50 pm

    You have such a beautiful speaking voice — it’s really soothing no matter what topic you’re talking about. I love the music too. In combination it’s like a duet. Good for helping pain “management” — thank you!

    On this meditation, I could hear what sounded like music at very low volume so I turned the volume up till the voice was quite loud and sure enough the music was there. I was wondering if there was something wrong with my download, though I haven’t had any trouble with others from your site.

    Thanks again. Peace.

  2. Mary on October 30th, 2007 9:59 am

    There’s nothing wrong with your download. It seems the volume of the music on this one is lower than with our other podcasts. Hopefully we’ll be replacing it with one with louder music soon.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. We’re glad you are enjoying the podcast!

    Best wishes, Mary

  3. Angela on May 21st, 2008 3:17 pm

    Your comments on pain are accurate. Thanks for pointing out that a lot of what we call pain is a result of emotional reactions to the sensation itself and also emotional reaction to the feeling of abandonment/betrayal that can come with the pain.

  4. Mary on May 22nd, 2008 10:01 am

    You’re welcome, Angela. It’s not always easy to see that distinction, but it can be so valuable. Thanks for taking time to comment! Mary

  5. Me on December 2nd, 2008 5:11 pm


    By reading this, I kind of soothed my mind a bit… cause I had this experience with a doctor, making an incision in my throat from the inside, and pierced a hole…. with less pain reducing stuff sprayed on it then you’d wish you had….

    anyhoo, this has made my fear for doctors real.. and also every thing I experience, like coughing and some simple pains….

    I tried to relevate things by reading stuff about where or why pain is there… Has to do with endorphins or something, at least 2 substances that go from one end to the other of your pain system. anyway, that didn’t quite do the trick… but reading this, that emotions are attached to a lot of pain experiences, made me realize that I already knew what the doctor was going to do, and the things he did were already ascociated to (a lot of) pain, by me for instance.

    ok im going to see if i can find more of this stuff…

    one dude from holland

  6. Mary on December 4th, 2008 1:03 pm

    You’re welcome — glad that insight helped.

    You might also want to listen to the Beyond Pain guided meditation (free on our podcast) and see if that also helps.

    Good luck!

  7. Melanie on March 6th, 2009 2:29 pm


    I have been trying to fix what’s broken inside of me for years now. Wondering why I am happy for a few minutes and then so sad the next couple of hours. I have been through so much negativity in my life, that I have had to let go of all of it, but there was still one thing that I couldn’t let go of, even though I thought I did; the pain in my left knee from an injury while in the Army basic training about 6 years ago. I know that this pain will be with me for the rest of my life. Unfortunately because I have been compensating for the injury in the left knee, my alignment is off in my body causing me to have headaches and low back pain.

    I have cried about this situation before, but not enough to really feel the deepness of this pain that brings on the anger and the depression and the fear of failure agian in my life. With this mediation, I actually allowed myself to feel the emotional pain I feel so deep inside and even though it will take some time to let go of 6 years worth of emotional negativity, I believe that with this meditation, I finally can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Thank You So Much,
    Melanie C

  8. Mary on March 6th, 2009 2:53 pm

    You are so very welcome, Melanie. It takes courage to feel the emotional pain all the way, and yet it’s the only way to get through it. Thank you so much for sharing this experience. I wish you well on your journey.

  9. Julia on April 17th, 2009 11:03 pm

    This was recommended to me by a friend in Ireland and I thought I would give it a go even though I don’t have anything really awful to live with just an injury from a household accident that is taking a while to clear up on my knee and is still painful. I did this meditation and along with the other responses here, a real load of anger came up. I was brimming up with tears and this was connected with something that was happening at the time of the accident but is technically unrelated. I had not made a conscious connection and had forgotten about it but there it was, large as life. I released it as you suggested and suddenly everything changed, the pain became simple stiffness and slight discomfort. The issue went into a better perspective and I feel great. I am really very grateful to you for this. Blessing on you.

  10. Mary on April 18th, 2009 8:44 am

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experience, Julia. It’s amazing how much our emotions can affect how we experience pain and this is a really clear example of that. So glad it helped. You are welcome.

  11. Kim on May 22nd, 2009 9:24 pm


    I am just writing to express how grateful I am to have found your podcast. I have the subscription and found myself trying to get some rest in the midst of a migraine, and found this specific edition. I listened to it and was able to get some sleep and feel better.

    Thank you for providing this, thank you so much.

  12. Mary on May 23rd, 2009 9:47 am

    You are welcome, Kim. I’m pleased the meditation helped!

  13. Carla on August 2nd, 2009 4:58 am

    I have read your blog about the beyond pain meditation and would love to hear it but am unsure of how to play it. What do I press. The other meditations I have been able to press the red printing. Thank you for the ones I have listened to, they are truly beautiful.

  14. Mary on August 2nd, 2009 8:49 am

    You are welcome, Carla.

    I don’t know why you’d have trouble listening to that meditation when you can hear the others. You should be able to click on the link on our podcast listening page and hear it. You can also hear it on iTunes — anyone can download iTunes onto their computer and listen to podcasts there.

  15. Mr. E on July 16th, 2010 4:00 pm

    The feeling of pain -being quite different from the experience of injury- It seems to me, is a “thing” that one may benefit through coming to terms with. Being able to experience what “IS” OTHER THAN the all consuming “pain” that is in the forefront of our consciousness, and to be aware of that which IS “while” pain is being experienced may be quite empowering. As a martial artist benefits from becoming graceful at falling, one who chooses to experience physical pain gracefully (NOT Injury!) possibly stands to benefit not only from acclimating the self to this condition, but most importantly connecting one’s understanding to the reality that pain only hurts while it hurts -it will pass or you can simply endure it- and most profoundly that EVERYTHING beautiful still IS… while experience this small -though quite compelling- slice of life. I kneel in seiza while praying every day. It is painful. I believe that this practice has helped me to focus beyond this pain on to my intention. I hope that it had also facilitated my ability to experience truth beyond pain that I do not control in life… emotional pain for instance. through practice I have been able to see the rest of life beyond my “overwhelming grief”. Perhaps the sublime experience reported in formal religion’s “submitting”, “relinquishing”, and “acting with faith” includes what is analogous to not the endurance, but the passing beyond the experience of pain. Perhaps simply accepting the peace and love that is the Self -enlightenment- is kind of like accepting the loveliness of life that does so exist… even when we are in pain. …or not. [Pain is. You choose. Make good choices. Never hurt yourself or another! It is EZ to have an unhealthy relationship with pain. It can serve as a distraction -that is never good.]

  16. Mary on July 16th, 2010 4:18 pm

    Thank you so much, Mr. E, for this comment. You wrote very beautifully about some things I have been experiencing lately with pain. There are ways of “making friends” with pain and having a whole different relationship with it that eliminates so much suffering. I think I will be writing about this soon. Best wishes.

  17. Rolf on December 18th, 2010 11:53 am

    Dear Mary,

    I suffer from one of the worst (if not the worst) forms of Chronic Neurophatic Pain conditions that exists, called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known in the past as Reflex Symphatetic Reflex Distrophy (RSD). I have it for more than 10 years now and underwent dozens of Surgeries, Pain Management procedures, implants of pain devices (Spinal Cord Stimulator, Pain Pump’s), multiple heavy drugs, etc…

    Through all of this pure, indescribable, constant pain hellish nightmare, it is easy for us to loose hope, be depressed, anxious, angry, fearful, and desperate for some form of relief, even if for just a little while…. Well, dear Mary, your meditation on pain is the only thing I currently know that does that for me these days. I’m so dependent on your voice and words to keep me calm, that I even have it sometimes on a “repeat mode” on my player, just so it won’t go away, for my pain doesn’t either. The kindness of your rich and wise spirit is so evident in the way you are able to really capture what it feels like to be in constant pain. Your standard advice for us to “let go off it…” is precious and through your voice it is not only soothing, but it really comes with a spiritual, caring and healing endorsement. It is wonderful, simply wonderful.

    Please, please, keep this line of meditation for I know many people with chronic pain which could also benefit from your meditation, much more than from the traditional treatment options from medicine. Anything helps us!

    God bless you (and Richard too)!

  18. Mary on December 18th, 2010 1:33 pm

    Your words are so moving, Rolf. I am so sorry you have this pain. It has to be one of the hardest things to live with. We couldn’t be more pleased – hearing that the meditation is helping. I know that having even the smallest respite from the pain can make a world of difference. I hope I will be able to do more meditations for pain in the future.

  19. Sheena C on November 22nd, 2013 8:49 am


    Just wondering if this type of guided meditation would be suitable during labour? I am new to meditation and quite enjoying it… and I’m now looking to incorporate it into my drug free birth plan.

    Thank you,


  20. Mary on November 22nd, 2013 11:51 am

    Sheena, a number of women have been using our guided meditations before and during labor. Here’s a quote from one of them:

    “round this time last year I was nearing the end of my second trimester and knew that I needed to start thinking about birth prep classes, if any. Based on a variety of factors, I decided not to pursue any of the more mainstream approaches and instead figured my best preparation would come from yoga and meditation. I did some prenatal yoga as a home practice and took a weekly class late in my third trimester — other than that and a lot of reading, my main source of labor and delivery prep came from your podcasts. I can’t even say that I practiced regularly, but I knew that whatever practice I could work into my day or evening would be worth it. And I was right. My labor really kicked into gear right after midnight on my due date, but because I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early I just tried to stay in modified child’s pose on my bed as much as possible and kept breathing. I’m not saying it was a painless breeze, but it was certainly manageable. By the time we got checked in at the hospital right before 8:00 a.m. I was pretty far along and past the point of even being offered an epidural. Five hours later, our beautiful daughter was born. She yelled for about 20 minutes straight, but once she was cleaned and swaddled, the nurse commented on how calm and alert she was (ftr, the nurse had also commented on how rare it was for them to have a nonmedicated delivery in that hospital — coincidence? You be the judge.) That 13 hour period was probably the most intense experience I’ve ever had — I’ve never had a day in which I was so in each and every moment. Even in the late stage of labor, I was able to enter a deep state of relaxation between contractions. I just had to take each moment on its own terms — I’d observe myself still breathing hard after a contraction had peaked and would remind myself, “This is a different moment, you don’t have to keep breathing so hard.” Which, in turn, is a lesson I try to remember during more mundane experiences since then. :)

    I know this is long, but I especially want to encourage any women out there who are frightened by the prospect of labor pain to consider that they might be capable of more than they give themselves credit for. And thank you, MO, for the free podcasts!!”

  21. Jenny on May 18th, 2015 1:36 pm

    Mary – I am a psychotherapist, and I often tell my clients about meditation oasis. It has been so helpful to many of them in dealing with stress and learning how to relax.

    For myself, I wanted to let you know how helpful this particular meditation on pain has been for me. I suffer with psoriatic arthritis and pain can be intense a lot of the time. I have found that listening to this meditation has helped significantly. It amazes me how beneficial it is to stop fighting the pain. It lessens the suffering.

  22. Mary on May 19th, 2015 10:43 am

    Jenny, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s great to hear that our meditations are helping you and your clients. Chronic intense pain is so hard to live with and I’m grateful that the Beyond Pain meditation is offering you some relief. All the best to you!

  23. Jennifer on May 28th, 2015 3:57 am

    I have been using your meditations on your podcasts and apps for a number of years and have found them very useful to quiet the mind and rest the body. The beyond pain meditation is very powerful for me as I suffer arthritis in my spine. That the meditation is not focused on pain relief but on awareness and acceptance of the total experience (which pain sufferers spend a lot of time blocking – to our detriment) was quite a novel and refreshing concept. I find myself performing this meditation at least once a week. Thank you for creating it.

  24. Mary on May 28th, 2015 12:16 pm

    You are so welcome, Jen. Thank you for letting us know about your experience with the podcast, apps and especially this meditation. It’s true, we tend to try to block pain but as you’ve found from your own experience, it just causes more suffering. I’m so glad the meditation is helpful for you.

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