Mind Body Tension

Happy February Friends.

I am starting a new series of posts focusing on the Mind Body Syndrome. These posts will take you on a journey to learn about and use what New York physician Dr. John Sarno first labeled Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) but now refers to as Mindbody Syndrome.

As many of you know, I took a class with Dr. Howard Schubiner in Southfield, Michigan in March 2007, who has worked with Dr. Sarno and now has his own mindbody practice. To read more about Mindbody Syndrome, go to: http://www.etex.net/kelving/ To visit Dr. Howard Schubiner’s website, go to: http://www.yourpainisreal.com I’m not convinced I was ready for the classes when I took them. I embarked on this journey before, but it was cut short with heart attacks. I’m so tired of being sick, I’m 100% ready to try again.

I have suffered chronic, incapacitating back pain since Nov. 2006 and lived through 4 heart attacks and other medical malfunctions of the body in the past year. Currently, my oxygen levels in my blood are still very low, and to date doctors have failed to figure out why. I wake every hour on the hour trying to sleep at night. I only experience about 5 hours a day when I have enough energy to function and feel like a human being. Taking pain pills for chronic pain triggers more bodily abnormalities which have hospitalized me on numerous occasions. I was extremely sick all last week and not fully recovered yet. I’ve had several viruses since October 2008 that return almost as faithfully as the seasons. It’s as if I’m running track and can’t stop.

I’m desperate. Being on a treadmill of illness is like living in a house without windows; I can no longer see a way out. Something has to change. So far I’ve not received any cure from physicians and I’ve seen many of them lately.

These posts will be “hands-on” experiences, sharing my own progress in using mindbody techniques, incorporating the techniques and work of both Dr. John Sarno and Dr. Howard Schubiner.

I want to take you on this journey with the hope you might be helped too. Mindbody issues can affect not only pain but everything from carpel tunnel to osteoarthritis, from heart burn to irritable bowel, from urinary tract infections to yeast infections, from depression to obsessive compulsive disorders. However, if you are not feeling well, check with your doctor first. Not all medical issues are mindbody syndrome.

February 21, 2009

Today, I spent no less than 20 minutes (morning for me), practicing mindbody work. As I listened to the tape I received in my class with Dr. Howard Schubiner last year, as I focused on my breath inhaling and exhaling, on my chest rising and falling, a great deal of tension lifted from my body. I was surprised I had so much body tension that early in the morning. It felt great to release it. I’m sure many are familiar with this kind of soothing release using meditation, yoga and other methods.

Once my body was fully relaxed, I turned to the thoughts and feelings that began entering my mind. I noticed them without judgment, letting them float in and letting them float away. Within minutes tears fell which surprised me. I had no prior awareness I was sad until I wept.

In those moments of minding my thoughts, I realized how much I hate my body, how I learned to hate my body, and the fact that I have hated my body my entire life. It was allegedly the wrong body from the time I was born. First I was to be a boy to correct my parents’ failing marriage. Our household was stressful, full of drama and chao. I was fed to keep me from crying so as not to add to the chaos. This set up a lifetime of overweight with yo yo dieting for decades. I spent my lifetime, trying to have a different body while all the time, hating the body I had.

All of these thoughts and feelings brought up rage. Rage I didn’t know I had. Rage at those who instilled those erroneous thoughts and behaviors into my psyche. We all have that little child within who is scared and full of anger. In the other direction, we all have that inner critical parent, telling us we “shouldn’t” this and “have to” that and that we should never express anger or rage.

My sadness and anger hung heavily in the air like a poisonous mist for a bit. Then, I spoke gently and kindly to my inner child, saying “It’s OK. Calm down. I know you’re scared. I know you’re angry, but it will be Ok. Just relax.” I felt relieved, comforted. The gloom dissipated.

Then I gently but forcefully told my inner parent that the erroneous thoughts about my body were and always had been her way of thinking, not my way, and that I would no longer allow her mistaken choices control my life. I spoke forcefully but without judgment or anger. I garnered strength as I realized I was in power now.

“Being mindful, allowed the painful experience to surface so I could see it, feel it, choose a different response about my body, and then let it go.”

One thing you don’t want to do is get “stuck” in your emotions during your mindbody work. They are just thoughts and feelings. Let them surface, look at them, and send them on their way. All of us have the freedom to choose how to respond at any given moment. We can change old patterns that keep us down. Notice them without judgment. then set them free to sail off into the face of the moon.

So how does this translate into less pain and better health? The stressful feelings that trigger pain are simmering in the subconscious and/or the unconscious. We don’t know these feelings are there. But your body does. This repressed tension held in the body triggers a reduction in blood flow to the cells and subsequently reduces the oxygen available to the cells. Oxygen deprivation to the soft tissues of the body can cause great pain.

Insight: During this 20 minute session, I realized that as long as I hate my body, I will never treat it kindly. I won’t and usually don’t do things to take care of it. But today I told my inner parent that I’ve always had the right body. It’s the body I was born with, and the only body I have. How could it possibly be the wrong body? I hope those who suffer needlessly with a negative body image might be helped with this insight. It was so powerful for me, I had to sit with it for the day to deeply integrate it.

Mind body work will bring to consciousness whatever is in your unconscious. You could spend 20 minutes in mind body work today and have a completely different experience from the person sitting next to you. But it is your experience which might be creating tension, bodily stress, and illnesses.