Everybody feels pain from time to time, be it from injury, pulling a muscle or an aching tooth. Pain is how our body alerts us that something is wrong.
But chronic pain is different. Our body keeps hurting for weeks, months or even years. Many times doctors can’t really find what is wrong, they will blame it on one thing or another, but they will not be able to bring relief to it.
Chronic pain can have real effects on our day-to-day life, our mental health, our relationships. When we are in constant pain, even if it is not very intense, there might be little space in our life for anything else. I know this from experience, I had an injury that caused me daily pain for more than 5 years.
Chronic pain is real, it is a physical sensation, caused by physical nerves. I want to affirm this to you, because you may have been told “it’s all in your head”. It’s not just in your head, And it’s not just in your body. And if you want to gain relief from these long standing pains I invite you to look with me into the connection between the mind and the body.
I will give you an example of such a connection, so you see this is not a metaphor but a real thing.
A man came to see me because he was having lower back pains. I gave him a bodywork session, where we explored the pain to see where it was coming from.
When we are in pain we normally contract our body, contract the muscles, the muscles do not contract by themselves, it’s something in the brain which makes them contract.
When we release such contractions in the session we can uncover the unconscious thoughts and emotions that are connected to this contraction.
In this guy’s case we uncovered that the back pain was caused by a muscled the iliopsoas, which was pulling his lower vertebrae forward causing the pain. When we released this muscle, the hidden emotions, thoughts and memories surfaced. He suffered a great loss as a child, and he was carrying it with him all these years, The effect on his back accumulated over many years.
With this the back pain subsided, and we began to work on the emotional content that came up, identifying many other aspects of life that these memories were connected to that he was not aware of. Today he is pain free, and his heart more open, he has come to terms with the past and feels he has healed these childhood wounds.
Research on neural pathways suggests that When people feel emotional pain, the same areas of the brain get activated as when people feel physical pain: (the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex).
The brain reacts to emotional pain almost as it does to physical pain, and the two can interchange. This explains why many times when we release physical tension emotional buildup is also released. Just see what happens when you are in pain, you tense up to “hold it in”.
In the safe space of the clinic we let go of the contraction and allow to come to surface everything that you may have been bottling up.
But we can do even more than that, you see it’s a two way street.
We can actually use the body to heal our mind not only using our mind to heal our bodies. It’s very difficult to control our thoughts and emotions, if I asked you not to think of an apple you would find it very difficult to not think of an apple. All of us have very little control over how we feel and think or otherwise you wouldn’t be here reading these lines, but we can all control our body more or less.
That’s why By using body work and breathwork we can tap into this system. In the same but opposite manner to how chronic pains are held by the body even if they are emotional, we can use the body to bring healing to our emotions and thoughts. This is the art body oriented psychotherapy
For years, I have helped many people overcome the inner content that is causing them to feel chronic pain. I have listened to countless men and women describe the pain they feel. More importantly, I’ve helped those men and women find the roots of their chronic pain and resolve both the emotional content as well as the physiological symptoms that they experience.
As a therapist, it’s a great feeling to see the clients I’ve worked with start to feel happy, healthy, self-assured & pain free. I want that for you, too.
It starts with an injury whether physical or emotional, this injury produces pain, normally we try to avoid the pain, that’s just natural, but in doing so we may start the process of catastrophizing.
When we don’t look at things head-on in our subconscious mind they might become bigger than they actually are. We then developed a fear of the pain, an unconscious fear, we might not even exactly know what it is that we are afraid of, and this fear can color our minds, It changes how we feel and it changes how we act.
We begin to do many things in order to avoid feeling that pain, develop a coping strategy and behavioral patterns that are designed to protect us not from the pain itself but from what we believe that pain causes us.
All this happens in the subconscious mind and is a reaction which is not necessarily efficient. It creates further difficulty in our life this difficulty becomes a second level of pain to which we react by pushing it into the subconscious mind. Normally wishing it to go away causes us to develop various coping mechanisms which in turn are also inefficient and cause more pain in the long run. This is sometimes called the cycle of catastrophizing.
So how do we get out of it? To overcome the pain what we need to do is to connect to it. observe it and take appropriate actions for dealing with it. Once we bring the pain into our awareness we very often recognize that it is not as severe as we first believed it to be. This helps us build confidence that we are able to deal with this pain, and once we regain this confidence we take the right measures for resolving this pain.
Not all pain can be resolved but like this we do not create a secondary cycle of pain which is caused by our own reactions inappropriate and over reactions to the original pain.