Chronic Pain Chronicles
Does this sound like you?
Your work and/or personal life is highly stressful, and you feel like your chronic pain has taken over. It may have been from an old sports injury, surgery, work injury, repetitive strain, etc. or it just came on with no cause that you can think of, and has not gotten better over time. Your chronic pain has made you anxious and depressed, you have trouble concentrating and you feel like you have to plan all your activities around what will and won’t exacerbate symptoms. You try to avoid sitting, standing, running, long car rides, cold damp places, airplanes, and/or high altitudes, etc. because any or all of these things tend to increase your pain. You may or may not be an active individual who enjoys high endurance activities. Exercise may even help relieve symptoms but too much activity or the wrong type will cause your pain to get worse.
Conventional medicine doesn’t work, and you’ve tried alternative medicine such as acupuncture, chiropractics, Naturopathy, neural therapy, prolotherapy, yoga, massage, bodywork (rolfing, structural integration, cranio-sacral therapy, physical therapy, trigger point therapy, deep tissue, myofascial release, thai massage, etc.) which work temporarily, or they only work if treatments are done weekly, monthly, indefinitely, etc. They are getting too expensive, or they just don’t work at all.
You feel like you are stuck in this pain-spasm cycle where symptoms may get really bad which in turn frustrates you even more, which in turn increases your symptoms and you just want the cycle to stop!
You may be this person, or know someone who fits this description, or be a healing professional with clients or patients just like this. For many years, I was this.
I had four surgeries on my back when I was a young kid to treat a condition known as spondylolisthesis. The surgeries left me with more orthopedic conditions than I started with, and to the surgeons, this was deemed a “success.” They sent me out the door with a few prescription narcotic painkillers, and told me I would need a surgery in about 10 years when the spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, sacroiliac joint dysfunction and disc degeneration became too severe. After months of complaining about still being in terrible pain and not being able to concentrate due to the prescriptions, I was dismissed by the doctors as having a “social issue,” not a “pain issue”. I was 14 years old.
Years of acupuncture and physical therapy literally saved my life and naturally reduced my pain to where I only had to take over-the-counter painkillers 2-3 times per month! From then on, I found my life’s passion -- to facilitate healing in others by integrating Eastern and Western concepts of mind body medicine.
I studied sports medicine in college where I would observe athletes heal from injuries faster when in a group than when recovering from injuries alone. I would see more injured football players after a lost game than when a game was won, no matter how beat up they were. Observing that the mind is intimately connected to discomfort felt in the body made me begin heavily researching the bio-psycho-social model of pain.
Thai massage seemed like a logical modality to study, since the rhythmical deep compressions and stretches bring about a profound feeling of relaxation in both mind and body. I immersed myself in this beautiful modality, studying with teachers in Thailand, Costa Rica, and the United States. Later, I studied hypnotherapy and neuro-linguistic programming. Once I integrated these two concepts, my own chronic pain vanished.
Pain is just the tip of the iceberg. Most treatments only focus on the body, but in order to experience long lasting change, one needs to look into the thing that's controlling the body -- the autonomic nervous system, which is influenced by emotions in the mind.
After over 20 years of studying and experiencing methods to treat terrible, debilitating, REAL chronic pain, I finally found relief that involves empowerment through a combination of movement, education about the mind-body connection, and learning how to control one's autonomic nervous system.
A couple years ago, I had an idea about holding a retreat where all these principles could be taught to individuals looking to break free from the chronic pain trap. Who wouldn't want a vacation that involved incredible adventures in another country, daily morning yoga classes, amazing food, great accommodations, and the possibility of returning home with a better quality of life?