If you’ve ever gone to that important meeting without your trusty tube of anal care cream to soothe that embarrassing itch, then a temporary solution might be to get yourself into a mindful state. It may not be a perfect cure but mindfulness has been shown to reduce our perception of pain, irritation, and itching, if practiced properly.
The good news is anyone can do it. The bad news is that it takes concentration and a fair bit of dedication to the cause.
What is mindfulness?
Being mindful is about being aware – of feelings, of sensations, what you are doing at a particular moment. It grew out of the practice of yoga and has been used to combat a variety of conditions such as stress and pain response.
Take breath meditation, for example. That is a mindfulness approach. The practitioner sits down and concentrates on each breath, how it fills the lungs and how it is expelled. There is nothing else but the breath and the more you work at it the more you can concentrate on just that, emptying the mind and just becoming aware of each breath. It’s great for things like stress, especially when you have had a hard day at work, because it focuses the mind on one particular thing and quietens everything else down.
Mindfulness can be applied to anything. If you are washing dishes, mindfulness teaches you to concentrate on each movement, to focus deeply on everything you do, so that you notice all the little sensations that are normally ignored.
How does it work on an itchy bum?
There is some evidence that being mindful can actually help with pain control, including that excessive itch in the nether regions. It works like this: When we get a pain or an itch we tend to shy away from it, mentally, and this desire to get away from it can often make our perceptions of the sensation worse.
Next time you get an itch or pain, rather than reach down and scratch or rub it, just concentrate on it for a moment. You will often find that the pain or itch will increase for a few seconds but then the sensation will begin to subside the more you concentrate.
That’s because our sensations don’t occur in isolation. If you are sitting in a meeting and you get an itchy bottom then you might begin to get embarrassed, even though you are the only one that knows. Your anxiety levels will heighten. You start to wonder if it will get worse. You try to concentrate on something else to take your mind off things. All these things can make the itching seem a lot worse than it is.
While mindfulness isn’t a cure for anal itching, it might just help to take off the edge when you don’t have a tube of soothing analcare cream to hand.
How do I become mindful?
Basically, it just takes practice. Breath meditation is a good place to start. Find a quiet place, sit down and concentrate on your breath. It might help to say something to yourself like ‘breathing in’ and ‘breathing out’ but the trick is to bring all of your attention to that one thing, the act of breathing. If external thoughts invade and distract you, then gently push them away and continue concentrating on the breath.
The more you practice, the better you will become at it. Now, let’s say you get an itch. Instead of trying to find ways to stop it, for a moment just concentrate on it fully. You might indeed find that for a moment that it gets worse. Concentrate on the sensation totally and don’t bring anything judgemental to your meditation. Don’t think ‘that’s really itchy’ but simply ‘that is an itch’ and focus on it completely.
You may well find, to your surprise, that the itch will start to subside a little and soon it won’t be as overwhelming as you thought.