Here in Boulder, we work a lot with the pain meditations of Shinzen Young in our inside prison programs. Prisoners report that these practices are very helpful for them dealing with the high levels of emotional and physical pain of life in prison. Here is a link to an article by Shinzen
about working with discomfort in meditation.
"Is there something else we can do with pain besides just coping through distraction, denial, wishful thinking and numbing anesthetics? Is there a universal strategy that can be applied to all pains regardless of their type, intensity or the causes that produce them? Is there a psychologically healthy way of making pain meaningful, a simple systematic way to harness its energy in the service of life? If so, this would be good news indeed! We could then effectively "use" the unavoidable discomforts of day-to-day life to foster personal growth. It would be comforting and empowering to know that should you encounter major pain which cannot be relieved by any of the standard methods, you have another option available. Meditation represents such an option."
Click here for an article about scientists exploring how zen meditation can reduce pain.
"The Zen practitioner senses pain but deals with it in a different way," said Myokyo, a monk and teacher of Zen meditation at the Abbess Centre Zen de la Main in Montreal.
It could be that slower breathing was linked to reduced pain by keeping the body in a relaxed state, Grant said.
"While previous studies have found that the emotional aspects of pain are influenced by meditation, we found that the sensation itself, as well as the emotional response, is different in meditators," he said."