Book Review: Pain Relief Without Drugs

Author: Jan Sadler
Publisher: Inner Traditions
Publish Date: 2007

If you suffer from chronic pain and would like to do something about it without the help of drugs, then this book may be worth a look. Author Jan Sadler spells out a multi-step plan that includes exercise, meditation, visualization and more to help people deal with their pain naturally. Sadler started her research into natural pain relief after back surgery she had in 1989 left her in constant pain. She developed a system to help herself cope by turning her attention away from the suffering she was going through. Her techniques have been so successful that they’re now used by clinics throughout the world.

If you’re looking for a quick fix to what ails you, then don’t stop here. The plan in this book is made up of several parts and requires patience and commitment. In the introduction, Sadler says: “You have hidden powers and strengths deep inside yourself that are the means of energizing your own natural healing powers. With the practical activities in this book, you can release and maximize your full healing and pain-relieving potential.” She describes how important it is to change how you react to your pain to help deal with it.

The first unit, titled “The Power of Deep Relaxation”, covers deep breathing techniques that one can use to help relax when in pain. While practising the breathing techniques, you can do a “Body Scan” and take time to concentrate on all parts of your body and relax them one at a time. The author recommends doing this for at least two 20 minute sessions per day. The book comes with a 55-minute CD that aids readers in this.

She continues with the importance of our thoughts in dealing not only with pain, but life in general. She stresses the key role of a positive attitude, saying it “influences the way we feel; we feel confident, enthusiastic, happy, joyful and in control of our lives.” She says the body’s natural healing ability  is only increased when we remain positive.

In Pain Relief Without Drugs, Sadler provides an in-depth look at how your thoughts can affect you physically and how to use your mind to change negative thinking. She recommends using a “Stop and Change” technique to tell yourself to stop thinking negatively and to replace those thoughts with positive affirmations like “I am doing just fine,” “I can handle this” and others. She believes in affirmations because “The subconscious mind is also like a computer in the way that it doesn’t care whether the information it is fed is true or false.” She adds that this isn’t self-deception, it is merely “programming ourselves for what we want to achieve.”

Unit three, “Building Self-Esteem and a Positive Attitude” expands on the previous unit. Sadler outlines several exercises to help focus on the positive aspects of one’s life as a way of avoiding the negative. She says “A positive attitude will keep you on course with all your self-help work – an attitude of “I don’t know if it will work but I’ll give it my best effort.”

In “Picture in Your Mind” she describes more methods to stop thinking about pain. One interesting idea is that of the “Safe Haven Visualizaton.” Sadler walks readers through the process of creating a place in their minds in which they can feel safe, relaxed, peaceful and happy. The accompanying CD can be used for this. She says that “you will be able to escape to it when you need comfort or uplifting or increased confidence and for the natural pain relief that is often the outcome.” Honing one’s visualization skills is vital because it helps to gain a “greater depth of knowledge and understanding about ourselves.”

The fifth unit offers advice for dealing with one’s feelings. She says it is important to accept how things are because to do otherwise will only increase tension. She believes this helps us to move on instead of dwelling on the negative. An exercise called “Seeking Understanding Within” guides readers through a process in which they identify a negative emotion and work through it to cope with it better.

Sadler explains the methods and benefits of meditation and breathing techniques in “Finding the Stillness Within.” She offers tips on what to do when your mind wanders (as it is likely to do) when meditating. She says that the mind is designed to produce one thought after another and with practice, you will be able to let the thoughts pass without hanging onto them.

The book rounds out with sections on enjoying yourself and dealing with pain flare-ups. It also includes many international resources and suggested books for further reading.

This book is also helpful for those who may not be suffering from physical pain but who would like to find ways to improve their outlook both on life and on themselves. The breathing, meditation and other techniques have far-reaching applications from which many would benefit.

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