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Brainwave Entrainment is Near-Instant Meditation

psychodelic art of a human head and waves of color from sound all around used as the header image for the brainwave entrainment article on the Ultimate Healing Guide

Art by tryppi http://tryppi.tumblr.com/image/113584310014

Synthesized Sound Waves

When I recently discovered that the same synthesizers I use to compose cinematic soundtracks could be used to generate healing waves of sound, I was blown away. As a composer, I’ve always been very aware that I was creating my own music to mesmerize myself with it. I could come home after a very stressful day at work, fire up my keyboards and be in my own universe floating free of problems within minutes of letting the music flow through my fingers. Plus, the pure tones of synth sounds have always been very hypnotizing to me.

Music has been an integral part of humanity’s personal entrainment for many years without any of us ever knowing the words “brainwave entrainment”. But as a musician and composer, it’s amazing this entire genre of sound creation was going on for well over a decade without my awareness; I was far too focused on creating pop and cinematic music to notice!

Quite simply, I can create a pure sine wave of, say, 30Hz in your left ear, and another pure sine wave of 36Hz in your right ear, and your brain is forced to calculate the difference between the two. After listening to these simple frequencies for 6-10 minutes, our brain will start to synchronize to the frequency difference. In this case, 6Hz is one of the natural frequencies of our brain during sleep, and this simple combination of tones can potentially put us to sleep just by listening. Or it can be used as a powerful aid in winding down the mind as a form of near-instant meditation.

What is Brainwave Entrainment?

Here’s what brainwave entrainment is all about: tuning the brain’s frequency to the desired setting using a specifically-designed audio track. Such audio tracks are composed by folks with synthesizers or otherwise generated by brainwave entrainment software. The “desired setting” we’re after, to help distract from chronic pain or at least help us get to sleep, is listening to pure sine-wave audio designed to wind down our mind and help us relax. We can change the gears in our brain by listening to audio tracks designed to do so!

Generally, these types of audio tracks are referred to as “binaural beats.” The reason is that when created properly, two audio sine waves collide in our brains the same way water waves can pass through each other; when this happens with sound, we perceive the wave peaks and troughs as audio beats. The perceived audio beating or pulsing can range from obnoxious to almost imperceptible. 

Our Brain’s Operating Frequency Can Be Safely Manipulated

Our brain generates electrical activity which can be measured and turns out the brain generates different frequencies depending upon what we’re doing. If we’re upset and anxious, our brains can get pretty revved up and may even red-line like an engine or metaphorically blow a fuse. Likewise, when we’re calm, focused, or in the middle of a project, our brains are running at a lower frequency than when we’re driving on the highway. Then of course when we go to sleep, our brainwave frequencies slow way down.

People have been studying this phenomenon for at least 30 years, and have mapped out different brainwave frequencies and their corresponding effect upon our physiology and consciousness. There are about five different states and frequency ranges our brain naturally goes through every day.

What if you feel like your brain is racing, you’re having a panic attack, or are about to have a pain flare up – and you’ve got no way to wind down the mind? Just put in your earbuds and listen to some “binaural frequencies” in the range of 8-12Hz, and your brain will synchronize to that frequency in about 10 minutes. The result? Calm mind, inner focus.

Brainwave entrainment is simple, safe, and works for almost everyone. Listening to “binaural beats” on earbuds is the easiest form to practice; when you want to stop, turn off the sound or remove your earbuds. Simple!

Hypnosis: You’re Getting Sleepy

Remember old movies where a psychiatrist would hypnotize someone by swinging a pocket watch in front of their eyes? It has always seemed hokey to me. Hollywood loved to use the mechanism of hypnosis to allow a doctor or psychiatrist to “take over control of someone’s mind.”

Mainstream pop culture has trained us to believe that hypnosis is something to avoid if possible, like a surgery, because it makes us feel unsafe. The concept of giving up control to someone as easily as being hypnotized is a scary concept. Many of us don’t really care to find out whether it’s real or not.

Although I’ve never really “believed” much in hypnosis, turns out we’ve all been doing it to ourselves most of our lives. Any time we fall into a daydream or stare off into space while either recalling old memories or planning future events, we could be considered to be “entranced,” or in a meditative state. Sometimes when we’ve fallen into this state of reverie, it’s difficult for us to extricate ourselves from wherever our mind has gone.

Just saying; entrainment has always been with us, along with self-reflection and self-healing.

Self-Hypnosis Is Easier Than Ever

Now that I understand what entrainment is, I use binaural beats to self-hypnotize and achieve states of inner calm like never before, effortlessly. Binaural beats are frequencies especially created to stimulate the brain into following specific brainwave frequencies. There are thousands of these types of tracks on YouTube, but most of them are pretty worthless.

Contrary to what Hollywood would like us to think about hypnosis, I never feel like I’m losing control of my mind or becoming susceptible to hypnotic suggestion; quite the opposite.  When I’m using binaural audio entrainment for the purpose of meditation, I feel like my self-awareness expands in all directions, while my pain and thoughts move away somewhere off in the distance. Entrainment is not quite the “disembodied awareness” which floatation therapy allows, but it is very powerful nonetheless.

Listening to a couple binaural tracks has become a part of my daily meditation routine. I listen to two specific tracks every single morning with headphones; one to reduce tension pain and calm down, and the second to balance my brainwaves for focus alertness before I begin my daily exercise. I even listen to binaural or isochronic tones while working.

So, really, the idea of entraining people by using sound or repetitive motion isn’t anything new. It’s a gentle method to persuade your mind to calm down, which in turn allows you to calm your body down. Our anxiety and pain can disappear simply by listening to some audio. That’s pretty exciting.

BINAURAL TRAIN – by Les Konley

Frequencies of Instant Meditation

Since our brainwave frequencies are related to states of mind, then we can safely use audio to stimulate our brain into the same relaxed states achieved by meditation. Therefore, simply listening to some frequencies which can calm our mind is a form of meditation. 

Instead of struggling to learn whether you’re doing meditation properly, spend some hours listening to different binaural (with headphones) and isochronic tones (with speakers) available on the internet – and eventually, you’ll find some sounds which resonate perfectly with you. From many dozens of samplings, I have only found about three tracks which I like and which work much better than all the rest.

Start a collection of go-to sounds  that help you calm your mind. And always remember to breathe deeply while listening, and you won’t be able to avoid the experience of deep relaxation.

Binaural Beats for Sleep

Good binaural tracks, enjoyed with earbuds, can help induce the same brainwaves associated with sleep, and therefore makes for a powerful new tool against insomnia. The track I created above usually makes me groggy regardless of the time of day I listen to it, especially if I listen twice. In order for frequencies to work to put you to sleep, they need to be in the target between 4Hz and about 8Hz, so just do a search on YouTube for “Binaural Beats for Sleep 4Hz” and be sure to listen for at least 20-30 minutes if you expect the tracks to work for you.

Binaural Beats for Chronic Pain Management

Be sure to check out the article on Brainwave Entrainment within the Ultimate Healing Guide for more in-depth resources on how to practice instant meditation with binaural audio. It would be a shame if you didn’t try it at least 30 days in a row – to help with getting to sleep, or to help wind down morning anxiety.

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DIY 50°F Cold Tub Therapy At Home Reduces Inflammation & Tunes Self-Awareness

The cold tub is in the garage

Thanks to BenGreenfieldFitness.com for this idea. I’ve been practicing Wim Hof Method by fully submerging myself in super-cold water. I put a 20-cubic-foot freezer in the garage about the middle of May and try to get a cold soak in every day as part of my chronic pain management practice. Even on days when I didn’t have a chance to soak in the cold tub, I still start my day with cold showers – which I’ve been doing for many years already. This DIY cold tub therapy at home is the next order-of-magnitude of on-demand chill-factor!

Starting submerged for only two minutes in 57°F water, I worked my way up to 07:45 (mm:ss) in 52°F water after eight weeks.  The results I’m having are remarkable. The goal is ten minutes submerged at 50°F every day, and I’m pushing both the total time submerged and temperature a bit closer every week.

Cold exposure provides a cardiovascular workout, promotes rapid body-wide anti-inflammation effects, and brings your consciousness vs body-mind system into stark reality. Either you’re going to feel like it’s burning and want to jump out, or you can embrace the cold and feel how it wakes you up. If you so choose, you can over-ride your instinct to run by bringing your self-awareness directly into your entire body to consciously calm it down. The burning goes away and is replaced with a form of bliss for the body if you can coerce yourself to become one with the cold.

Use the cold to retrain your brain and ease your pain

This incidentally also shocks away all your worries and thoughts about your pain, because you are forced to become aware else be defeated by the fight-or-flight animal-mind response. The cold shocks the pain away and provides you with a new sensation that begins to retrain your brain with what it feels like to have no pain. Or perhaps to have a different kind of pain. This is part of the appeal because we want to feel and we want to have a connection with our body, and we want to be in control more often in our lives.

The willingness to subject ourselves to extreme cold is part of a conscious effort to change addictive behaviors and another powerful tool in our chronic pain toolbox. We need an aggressive way to break our self-defeating bad habits, and this is one way to just drop right into an all-out internal self-improvement confrontation which tempers both body and mind in the process. IN fact, it’s recommended you ease yourself into the cold by starting with higher temperatures. Finding what works for you is the beauty of having a DIY freezer cold tub at home.

Cold and pain cannot co-exist

When combined with extreme breathing and the extreme mindset it requires to do this, submerging in super-cold water is the fastest way to learn how to override the body’s autonomous systems. This method takes full advantage of our brain’s plasticity to retrain us how it feels to have no pain while forcing us to confront the nature of ourselves in a very personal manner.

There’s nothing like cold to make you feel alive! Plus, cold works as an anesthetic.

Wim Hof Method is the most-extreme method listed in The Ultimate Healing Guide; it combines extreme cold, extreme breathing, and an extreme mindset to recalibrate your nervous system.

It doesn’t need to be winter to enjoy the cold

Cryotherapy, cold water immersion, cryo-sauna, an ice bath, and even cold thermogenesis  are other mostly-fancy words which refer to various forms of Cold Therapy, or Therapeutic Cold. It doesn’t need to be winter outside to find yourself some Cold Therapy if you live close to a big city. There are several ways therapy spas are bringing the therapeutic cold indoors.

We’re not talking chemotherapy here, as the auto-correct suggested. It’s cryotherapy, a relatively new word. One popular method of Cryotherapy is popping up inside physical therapy centers in the form of “Cryo-Saunas.” This involves submerging oneself in a standing tub of liquid-nitrogen cooled air, up to your neck at more than -240°F for about three minutes.

I paid $50 for two (2) three-minute cryo-chamber experiences as introductory sessions. Indeed, it felt like I was freezing myself for just about three minutes, and I could feel the effects for hours. I later read people can burn up to 800 calories from the 3-minute cold exposure they would otherwise not have burned.

Another technique of the application of Therapeutic Cold is the walk-in freezer concept. Why pay for these fancy “cryo-chambers” and liquid-nitrogen licenses when you can just spend $12,000 on a walk-in freezer big enough to put five people in at a time and open a cryotherapy business. DIY options here will appeal to more of the “handyman” or “handywoman” who might be interested in converting any room into a freezer with any standard window air conditioner. ColdBot Walk-In Cooler Controller

Easing yourself into embracing the cold

I graduated from those short bursts of cold during morning showers and the cryo-chamber sessions. With a chance to walk around in shorts up in northern Minnesota the first week of January 2018, I did 15-minute exposures to windy weather that was -18°F below zero without the wind chill.

Cold and pain can not co-exist within my nervous system!

Of course, my family thought I was crazy. After doing this type of cold exposure, the realization I didn’t need to pay for cryotherapy during winter months became quite obvious. So I started laying in the snow for 10 minutes at a time to numb my back whenever there was snow on the ground back in Colorado. Of course, as I mentioned, I’ve been doing cold showers for years before it ever became a subject of discussion on the internet.

What a deal – DIY freezer cold tub at home

I prefer the cold tub in my garage because I can do it anytime I need to reduce pain and inflammation, don’t need to drive anywhere, and I control the temperature

The freezer unit pays for itself after the equivalent of just eight $75 visits to the nearest therapy facility with a Cryo-Chamber.  After about eight weeks of ownership of the cold tub, I’ve experienced 47 self-inflicted cold-therapy sessions. Even at a discount of $50 per 3-minute session, 47 visits to a CryoChamber would cost $2350… and the Frigidaire only cost $600 on a no-interest-for-6-months purchase.

Les Konley in the DIY freezer cold tub cold therapy freezer ice bath at TheBodyIsMind

Les Konley experiencing 52°F Therapeutic Cold in a DIY Cold Tub. #TheBodyIsMind

Increased cold exposure with psychological games

Two vital factors go into the preparation for the session. First, I make sure I’ve already taken the time to somewhat center myself long before I get into the cold tub. This includes spending time in a hot shower first, followed by some stretching, some mindfulness breathing, and about five minutes of jumping on a trampoline to get my blood moving and oxygenation to increase.

Immediately before submergence, I ramp up by taking 30 rapid, fully-deep breaths, Wim Hof Style. This both increases O2 and CO2 levels in my blood, but is part of the activation of internal systems which are about to be exposed to the cold.

By the time I step into the cold water tub, I’m ready to play a game to distract my attention while I acclimate to the chilled water by counting my breaths.

SETTING THE TIMER

I brought a timer with me with the count-down set for how long I plan to stay submerged. When I first started eight weeks ago, the countdown was only 2:00 minutes and I jumped out after the beeper went off without paying attention to how many breaths I took. The purpose of the timer is to push my session out by 15-30 seconds per week in a controlled experiment of increasing exposure.

When the timer goes off it beeps for exactly 1:00 minute after reaching 0:00 and starts counting up. The beeping stops after 1:00 minute but the timer continues to count.  Thus, when I set the timer for 5:00 minutes, it starts beeping at 5:00 and stops beeping at 6:00 minutes. This extension of 1:00 minute is a way to push myself to do “just one more minute,” thus I always exceed the time I set for myself by at least the minute (until I get to 10 as my maximum).

The psychology of the game allows me to get out when the beeper goes off if I so desire, especially on days when I might have a hard time with the exposure or have recently decreased the water temp. In either case, the beeper is always my goal for a session.

COUNTING MY BREATHS

At some point during the logging and tracking of this cold therapy on myself, keeping track of two factors of my breathing became of paramount importance to the mental game and the therapy itself. Because I wanted to continue to push myself and temper my body and mind, part of improvement-tracking involves taking fewer and fewer breaths-per-minute (bpm). When I started keeping track, I was submerging for only 3:00 minutes with a breathing rate of 14bpm.

Turns out, 3-5 breaths-per-minute is the rate we’re at when we’re sleeping. So getting into this breathing rate zone means I’m literally chillaxing while I’m chillin’.

Every session I now attempt to keep the number of breaths below 30 for the session, regardless of how the time stretched out towards my goal of 10:00 minutes. The result was that within a couple of weeks, I was able to control my breathing rate while submerged and reduce to 3 breaths-per-minute. That means when I crossed the 7: 00-minute mark with 22 breaths, I was breathing pi with an average 3.14 bpm during the session.

At this rate, I would expect to take a maximum of 30 breaths for a 10-minute session. That’s my ultimate target.

HOLDING MY BREATH IN THE FINAL MINUTE

When the beeper goes off, whatever breath I’m counting immediately becomes my last breath of the session, even while I push to remain another full minute. I will inhale and lie there feeling the beating of my heart in my chest. I’ll feel how the cold seems to be burning my hands if I pay attention.

I notice that my neck and legs might still be holding a bit of tension. I focus on the areas of my body which still seem tight, and as I expel this final breath of the session, I imagine letting go of the tension which remains as I relax into the cold and settle to the bottom from loss of buoyancy.

So putting an upper limit on my breaths when I first get in forces me to focus on slowing my breath down. Especially due to the fact when I first get in, I have a tendency to hyperventilate as the shock settles into my system. By the way, this shock is no longer really very shocking for longer than about five breaths, because apparently, we can get used to almost anything.

TAKING THE FINAL BREATH & FULLY LETTING GO

It’s in this final moment, when I’m holding my breath, when it seems I finally come fully into present time within the here and now. My worries and pain having been pushed aside, I can begin my day with a refreshing vigor and a balanced, focused state of mind. I quite literally release myself into the cold and give myself fully over to the intelligence of my body which keeps my heart beating and systems circulating even while I consciously prevent the next breath.

This is where the self+bodymind relationship comes into play. I hold my breath until the beeping stops. Then I hold it for as long as is comfortable after that, sometimes approaching 90 seconds in total. When I sit up and take my next breath, the session is almost over.

ENJOYING THE COLD

Having exceeded the timer for the session, I get that feel-good feeling of accomplishment. While sitting upright in the cold water, I reach up and grab the edge of the freezer and pull any final kinks out of my back and hips with very minor stretching, plus a twist in both directions at the waist. I grab the timer to stop it then grab my towel while stepping out, feeling alive and proud of myself.

It’s in these final moments when I’m there with myself in the cold when it seems most enjoyable to be there. It has become something which I very much look forward to doing, rather than something which seems frighteningly horrid as you might think it is. I mean, come on! Haven’t you ever jumped into a cold lake or stream?

Learn more about
Therapeutic Cold

TheBodyIsMind.com Ultimate Healing Guide has a Cold Therapy article with all the tangible and intangible benefits of the wonderful world of cold exposure therapy. Another article covers the even more extreme Wim Hof Method of Cold Therapy, so be sure to go check those out.

 

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How Our Language Prevents Healing Awareness

How would you describe the picture just above? Chances are you either have no words at all or many words.

It’s quite the opposite problem when it comes to the word ‘mind’ because this one word means so many different things. Dictionary definitions for ‘mind’ include the faculty of consciousness and thought; a person’s intellect; a person’s memory; a person’s attention; and the will. Synonyms include brain, wits, understanding, and sanity.

That is confusing as heck! How is it possible for the mind to be all those things? I think we need new words to separate the meanings!

Our language gets in the way of understanding each other and the world around us. We are often prevented from learning the lessons we need in our lives because we’ve got such an emotional attachment to some words that they actually cause a reaction or even prevent us from seeing what may be right in front of us.

For instance, it’s difficult to discuss the nature of our consciousness using the words brain, body, or mind.

“The brain and mind are both involved in consciousness and the terms are often used interchangeably but the brain and the mind are not the same.”

Billi Gordon Ph.D., Psychology Today

Perhaps conscious-awareness and bodymind-awareness work better to differentiate between the self and the bodymind. A discussion is more straightforward if we think of those two things (self+bodymind) as distinct from each other – especially concerning what we can work on to make improvements.

As it turns out, seems like Wilhelm Reich and his protege, Dr. Charles Kelley, were way ahead of their time with the development of body consciousness therapies!

SELF+BODYMIND RELATIONSHIP

We perceive ourselves as having possession of a body, but not as having a relationship with it. We consider that we have a mind, not that we are the mind. We should also be able to discuss the nature of our consciousness without getting into an obtuse discussion about parts of the brain and names of hormones. Words can ensnare us emotionally and so easily trap us with illusions from misunderstood meanings and concepts, so more basic words make it easier to achieve healing awareness through an understanding of complex concepts.

Learning that the body is mind changes everything about our understanding of human nature. And it changes the way we should approach healthcare.

Considering we’ve known about the conscious and the subconscious for well over 100 years, it shouldn’t be too far outside of anyone’s reality to understand the nature of our consciousness in these simple terms: self is conscious, the bodymind is subconscious. Simple. Two minds, one body.

SO FOR THE sake of conversation, let’s say that the body has a mind of its own. We have referred to this bodymind by many different names in every language across our cultures. Some of these words might include ego, subconscious, shadow self, alter-ego, personal demons, our dark side, or the devil.

When our language makes things confusing, it doesn’t make it very easy for us to discuss the parts of us which hurt or the part of us that seems to want to harm us. It’s difficult to differentiate the dark side of our minds as something apart from us when we don’t have the appropriate words to use.

For anyone looking to heal themselves from pain, learning to have a civil internal conversation with yourself instead of beating yourself up mentally all the time is a good place to start. If we can begin treating ourselves (your awareness, your sense of self, your consciousness) and our body (that other voice in your head, the subconscious mind) as two separate things, then we’ll be able to eventually separate ourselves from the morass of thoughts which our bodymind continually generates.

SELF-HATE BECOMES SELF-COMPASSION

Once we separate ourselves from our thoughts, we can bear witness of the dualistic relationship inside own heads. We say, “Me and my body,” or, “My body and I.” This makes sense because we tend to refer to “our body” as something we own. There’s no other way to speak. “These are my legs,” I say. And “inside this head, is my brain.”

That’s how we refer to parts of ourselves when we speak to others, so why not just continue this tradition inside your head? It’s not just the relationship you have with your body; it’s also the relationship your body has with you, and this is what we mean when we say that we must listen to our body.

When we mistreat our bodies, then our bodies can do things to retaliate. The subconscious mind is bodymind-awareness, and the body has a powerful impulse to survive, with or without our participation. We already know our body can have us do things outside our control; we end up stopping by the liquor store on the way home without realizing it, and we have that fight with our body’s addictions and end up losing.

We can turn this self-hate relationship around and take a different approach to wellness. “Hello, bodymind! Let’s work together on solving this chronic pain thing, shall we?”

Unfortunately, our culture would have us believe that we have a self+self relationship when we’re “arguing with ourselves.” But it doesn’t make any sense to describe things that way. There needs to be some separation of the self from the rest of the machine, or else nothing makes sense, and we’re doomed to inevitable misery.

DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP

There’s more to this logic, and I’m sure you’ll agree it makes a lot of sense to treat self and bodymind separately. We want to learn to have a positive self+bodymind relationship because self-healing is impossible without such a connection.

It’s a battle we fight in our minds. It’s a battle which rages on whether we’re aware of it or not. Even more precisely, the struggle is between our conscious awareness and the 37 trillion cells we share our body with, whether the cells “are the self” or whether the cells “belong to self.”

The reason this separation of self from bodymind approach works for chronic pain management is then we don’t need to take the blame for everything, and we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves. We don’t need to take everything so personally, and we don’t have to beat ourselves up when we have momentary lapses of reason. It goes with the territory. We want to learn better control over the reactive side of things, that’s all.

Two separate forms of awareness inside one container. This perspective unlocked all kinds of new possibilities with my chronic pain management, and it will likely do the same for you.

These concepts are all elaborated more clearly on the Mind-Awareness section of The Ultimate Healing Guide, so be sure to check it out.

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The Magic of Cannabis Nobody Talks About

On a personal basis, I consider cannabis to be a divine plant. Quite frankly, I have serious doubts whether I would have found my way to self-healing without it. As a medical marijuana patient in Colorado, my doorway to self-forgiveness, self-compassion, and gratitude was opened thanks to the use of this beautiful plant medicine.

With the help of the plant, I found inner bliss and resolve for my condition; I reconnected with my heart and found my inner guide. Nobody ever speaks of these massive intangible benefits. Also, I avoided opioids for pain management, so I can’t say enough good about cannabis and how thankful I am for having had prescribed access to the green stuff since 2011.

I vaporize micro-doses of plant medicine to help me overcome the pain of my daily flexibility and postural strength training. The effects of the herb are immediate, and it helps me to achieve an intense healing awareness of my bodymind during morning pain management rituals. Perhaps even more importantly, it helps me find the motivation to get up and move by providing a deeply satisfying relationship with my body. It also helps me reconnect with my emotions, which is vital to my self-awareness.

In my experience, ingesting a dose of cannabis edibles about an hour before a massage or float session is pure magic. Just recently I was able to contact the moment of my deepest pain (from when my mom died just before I turned three years old) and release a tremendous amount of emotional trauma during massage therapy. I contend that without having taken plant medicine to assist me with this, massage therapy would have been far less effective. I would go so far as to say that with cannabis, my tissue massage was 10x as rewarding than it would have been without it. I was able to connect with my bodymind on a deeper level than otherwise possible.

The Spiritual and Healing Effects of Cannabis

The spiritual and healing effects of cannabis are well documented, and many books have been written about it. The point is, we don’t need to wait for “studies” to be done to know as a species how good it works for us. Afterall, the pot plant has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, and our culture was one of the first to make it so completely taboo.

One major intangible benefit of cannabis I receive is the ability to overcome depression and find an enormous motivation to take care of myself which otherwise goes completely ignored. Without using cannabis in one form or another, I never find the motivation needed to the bodywork required to stay healthy. However, after a single dose of weed, I find myself motivated to spend hours doing yoga, foundation training, or taking the time to meditate.

If you want to hear some passionate discussion about the spiritual and healing benefits of cannabis, listen to any one of these Joe Rogan podcasts. He’s the only other person I’ve heard talk about it so liberally, and he presents solid and logical arguments on behalf of legalization.

Topical References:
The Spiritual Effects of Marijuana
Ganja Yoga
Cannabis and Spirituality
Microdosing Marijuana

 

Rocky Mountain High, Colorado

The depths of my despair and anxiety were turned around by the fortune of living in one of the most progressive states on the legalization of marijuana. Believe me, I don’t take it for granted. Used in microdoses, a little cannabis vapor keeps me going when I would otherwise succumb to my pain and depression. A small enough dose will help me overlook my disability for a few hours so that I can focus on the more critical issues in my life. I get close to what I imagine it must be like to “feel normal” without chronic pain. Who wouldn’t want that?

If I were to define what I believe enlightenment to be, I would say this about it: enlightenment would mean having a conscious control over yourself at all times; this includes conscious control of your body, your mind, your reactions, your thoughts, your viewpoints, your opinions, your external influences, the strength of your bonds with family and friends, your expectations, your communication, etc. To put it bluntly: medical cannabis allowed me to become enlightened.

We eventually all learn that we cannot control what happens in the world and that we cannot fix a broken world. We discover we can only control ourselves. If you can’t imagine having control of any one of those things in the list above, then perhaps that’s a place to start for you. We need to find a chink in the armor, a crack in the shell somewhere within our consciousness. Who wants to be out of control? Without a doubt, cannabis helped me to imagine a better future for myself where I was in control more often and less reactive in adverse situations.

Learning about the relationship between your awareness and your bodymind can make all the difference in the world. Unfortunately, our language and modern medicine have screwed things up to make it all the more confusing. Is our brain the mind? Are the mind and our thoughts the same as our self-awareness? Is the brain something different than the body?

If Mind and Body are not separate things, then why do we have one kind of doctor for the mind and another sort of doctor for the body? Well, that’s the problem then, isn’t it? Especially if we are trying to help expand awareness that the body is mind, it starts to make less sense that these doctors would have utterly separate career paths, doesn’t it?

In such a flawed model of the human body, mind, and consciousness, there’s no possible reality within that framework where self-healing can happen. How could we impose upon the body and the mind the will of our consciousness if it’s all scrambled up together?

Self+BodyMind & Cannabis

Undoubtedly we can all agree that we appear to share our self-awareness with another intelligence system which keeps us alive. Our bodies are complex electrical organic organisms with colonies of cells of different kinds all working together to make our heart beat, our food digest, and our cells to regenerate. A wondrous intelligent network averaging 37 trillion cells (an inconceivable number), exchanging as many as 300 different molecules of information, and communicating with each other at the speed of light through our central nervous system.

A biological marvel for sure, and one which gives us the gift of life. Seemingly separate from all that automated organic intelligence, our consciousness exists within the same structure, self-aware and capable of reflecting upon our thoughts. We are capable of driving the body and controlling the mind, but we are also vulnerable to the cravings of the body and the whims of the mind to the degree we lack discipline. Trillions of cells working on our behalf.

So isn’t it interesting that on the surface of those trillions of cells which make up our bodies are tiny receptors seemingly custom-tailored for cannabinoid molecules? What if cannabinoids are an empathy molecule we need more of? It seems as though the cannabis plant can flip our cannabinoid receptors on; doing so brings instant relief of unwanted symptoms such as pain or anguish. It does so in a way which allows one to connect with the self-healing resources already present within the three brains of heart, mind, and gut.

Having cannabinoid receptors does not automatically mean they were made to be filled with cannabinoids derived by burning the cannabis flower.

However, mankind has used the plant for eons. There must be some kind of a relationship between our bodies and the plant. Despite records going back 4,700 years that document medicinal uses of cannabis, no one knew how it worked until 1964. But the research of the plant as a medicine came to a grinding halt with the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, and thus one of the greatest plant medicines of all time was held out of reach for over four decades.

Thankfully our minds are changing about plant medicine. As of mid-2018, about 65 percent of Americans no longer think smoking weed is a bad thing; that’s a solid majority of folks! And other plant medicines such as psilocybin mushrooms and DMT are making their way into therapies for trauma relief (in experimental stages).

The stigma from traditional conservative thinking about marijuana is that it’s a “gateway drug.” If that’s so, it is my personal experience that it’s a drug to the gateway of self-healing. The drug is powerful when used the right way, with the right frame of mind, and in the correct dosage. This explains why personal experimentation is required to figure out what works. It shouldn’t be a surprise; it’s the same approach psychs take with their liberal prescriptions of pharmaceutical psychotropics.

Medicial Cannabis Can Help Self-Healing

Consider for a moment that it is perhaps this relationship between cannabinoids and our cell receptors, plus the fact that the mind permeates every cell of the human body, which explains why marijuana can have such a profound effect upon our consciousness?

The magic nobody talks about when people are against weed include many intangible benefits which are most likely appreciated only by those who need it as a medicine and not those who abuse it for recreation. In my experience as well, cannabis helps me feel close to pain-free; it helps me have a good day, show compassion for myself and others, and get my work done so I can pay the mortgage. Without it, I’m a grumpy bastard always feeling sorry for myself and drinking too much in desperate compensation for my unwanted pain. Alcohol doesn’t help. Marijuana does.

Without the magic of the divine plant, I may have ended up dead a lot sooner than I would have preferred. I was racing around like an idiot, mad at the world, and frustrated with my lack of self-control. I experienced car accidents and crippling back spasms. I felt loathing for myself, and my self-esteem was non-existent. Medical marijuana helped turn that all around. Plant medicine helped me to overcome my pain each time for long enough that I was able to find my way away from suffering for more extended periods without it.

With the help of a plant, I was able to find my path towards self-healing. And that’s the magic of cannabis nobody talks about.

Christmas in Chicago 1968

The Last Christmas Before My Mother Died

For my first official post on the subject of death and further disclosure of my personal journey towards healing, I will honor my mother. There’s more to this story, but let’s start at the end.

My mom died from diabetes in April, 1969. I was 31 months old; two years and seven months. I have vivid memories of her being very sick and have always been able to recall the shock of her death. She was throwing up blood and had me run to get a pan from under the sink which she could spit up into. Then she was whisked away to the hospital, never to return. To be honest, she adopted me at birth (from mother #1) and was not my biological mother; not sure if I knew that then, but I had already grown very attached to her when she suddenly disappeared forever.

I stayed home with a babysitter while my mom basically bled to death in the hospital. When I found out she had died, I was sleeping on this orange couch (see photo: though the Christmas decorations were long put away). My dad woke me after returning home from the hospital to tell me that mommy had gone to heaven… and we cried together in the dark, early-morning hours standing in this room, with no lights on, and while it rained outside. I had waited for them both to come home, sleeping on that orange couch, anxious about why it was taking so long into the night! At long last, Dad came home alone, without her. I didn’t understand what he meant by heaven. Where did she go? Who was God?

With no way to process the information, I’ve been mad at God, the Universe, and Everyone ever since. Ultimately, I went mad. And I stayed there, mad. Well, until recently that is.

I don’t remember whether I ever saw her dead body; she was buried in a tomb rather than a grave. I plan to visit her Mausoleum, outside of Chicago, in 2018 or soon after.

RELIEF FROM TRAUMA OF THE PAST

I’ve uncovered the grief of her passing at two different times in my life: once when I was about 25, then not again until I was about 45. I know I’ve never gotten over it. The first time I exposed grief from my mom’s death was after having received about 25 deep tissue massages, intensively done over a period of just six weeks during a high-stress part of my life. When the massage therapist asked how I felt that day after the 25th massage was over, I realized for the first time, in as long as I could remember, I had absolutely no physical pain! It was completely gone! I felt blissfully wonderful!

So THIS is what it feels like to have no pain! Wow… blissful! Free of worry and care, free from despair.

But wait, there seems to be something else there, deeper. Why do I still feel pain? Why do I still feel pain, if my body doesn’t hurt?

It does hurt, further down, in my gut, and in my heart.

I started bawling right there in the massage room with my massage therapist, discharging more grief from my mom’s death, still yet to be fully processed. A big cyst of hidden emotional pain was lying there, somewhere behind my heart, devouring the love which comes to me before it could have a chance of flowing through me. It might explain why my broken wrists, broken shoulders, the surgeries and the chronic pain, plus the anxiety that comes with it, when all combined, still does not equal the pain of having lost my mother when I was only 31 months old. This could also explain all my addictions, my overindulgence and general lack of seriousness about life. I learned we all die anyway, at a tender age before most people do.

The pain of my mother’s death… it could be my path towards relief, healing and ultimate salvation. I’ve been running from it my whole life, shouting at others in anger or emotional intensity, especially when I least intended to do so. Why was I so misunderstood? Nobody loved me, and I couldn’t even love myself. The pain was deep. God had taken my mother from me before I had a chance to get to know her. Was that fair? How is a 2-year-old supposed to cope with a broken heart?

For starters… by breaking everyone’s hearts around me, I suppose. By always leaving people with a bad impression rather than no impression at all. By seeming to be annoyed and mad all the time. By holding it all inside my body, where it has manifested as chronic pain and anxiety, and which has me wound up tight most of the time, like a ball of lightning waiting to strike.

WALKING THE PATH OF SELF-HEALING

Instead of continuing to wonder why everyone always insists there is something wrong with me, and forever be confused why nobody ever understands me, I started to discover what essentially amounts to the truth about the nature of ourselves, our relationship to each other, God and The Multiverse. Over my entire lifetime, and not suddenly, I found myself.

Again very recently, I experienced one of the most wonderful massage therapy sessions ever! It felt as though the therapist uncovered this grief of my mother’s death without trouble and proceded to squeeze me out like a sponge, tears dropping into a copper bowl below the opening for my face. More grief was released from my tissues, and so more of the unscrupulous micro-spams in my muscles of my neck and shoulders released both tension and anxiety along with the emotional pain. Very therapeutic, and right on track for someone with seven-degrees of massage training! Myotherapy, heat-therapy, deep tissue, trigger-point, myofascial release, and relief from deeply-buried trauma! Quite the best massage I’ve ever had.

It has taken me 50 years to figure out personal suffering well enough to have finally learned how to derive satisfaction from, and have gratitude for, all of my Life’s lessons. The immense punishment I have suffered, with high impact emotional pain to my mind before my awareness was even fully online, and many high-impact injuries taken to my body since the first lesson about God and Heaven when I was only 2 years old.

To one degree or another, suffered so have we all.

Today, I have absolute genuine gratitude for all of the pain. Thank you, my pain. Without my suffering, I may have never found my way home. I’m sure you’re somewhere on this road or you wouldn’t be looking around for some hope.

The answers we seek are out there. May you all find peace in your lives whenever or wherever possible.

Les Konley

Parker, Colorado

P.S. I love you, mom #2. I will never forget! The COLOR ORANGE is to REMEMBER YOU BY! Your death has driven my purpose in life. Thank you forever. Oh yeah, we all know you enjoyed the crap outta those Fritos back there in 1968 at the Brookfield Zoo!

P.P.S The story picks up nineteen months later, when I was adopted by loving mother #3 at age 4, a mother whom I consider to be the mother who raised me right and taught me self-discipline. Thanks mom! Love you for everything! That’s right, I’m in the “3 Moms” club. All smiles here! A line of caring women to whom I owe all my respects. Also including my soul-mate wife and beautiful daughter, there are many women in my life whom I’m grateful to, for each day I’m alive.

 

 

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Our Path Towards BodyMind Self-Healing

Everyone here on Earth is fighting for survival. As part of living our lives, we are all seemingly penalized in one form or another as payment for the privilege of being alive, and this equates to pain. But some of us need to fight even more fiercely just to live!

For folks in chronic pain, we must always fight harder to live our lives than others who don’t know what it feels like to start every day with a detriment or handicap. But when we run away from how we feel and cover it up with narcotics or other drugs and alcohol, we are no longer in a relationship with our bodies; being detached from our bodies is being without emotion. This is what it must feel like to be a member of the walking dead.

Our lives are worth fighting for. If you don’t feel like fighting for your life, then this is the very first reason why you must learn to heal yourself. Everyone holds onto the hope that, one day soon, things will improve. This hope relies upon your heart, but you need to reach down and connect with it to receive it. How?

There are many, many ways to help people recover from trauma in the 21st century, and so in nine out of ten cases, your invisible wounds can be healed. There is always room for improvement. There’s more reason now than ever to H.O.P.E. self-healing is possible! (except in extreme cases of stage-4 disconnection from the self and bodymind.)

Learn to Believe in Yourself

It starts with belief in yourself. If you would be willing to trust yourself and listen to the guidance of your heart, you can find a way to reduce or otherwise learn to live with your pain. Whether this means learning to live life despite the pain or finding a path to the miracle of self-healing, it is entirely up to you. You must become determined you want to change and feel better, and the only place the motivation will come is from your heart. It means learning self-compassion.

You cannot hear your heart if you are drugged numb, or are coiled up so tightly that your pain is a whole bodymind pain. Perhaps your fibromyalgia represents body armor made up of the micro-spasms throughout your muscle tissues? Such unrelenting tension, which is ultimately a partial or full-body web of micro-spasms, is undoubtedly a result of childhood trauma between birth and age seven. The body of evidence for this is substantial.

Contrary to 20th-century beliefs, we now have many ways out of our pain without drugs and surgery. What I mean by “out of our pain” is a relative phrase, entirely dependent upon your perspective and circumstances. Many people have learned to live their lives, in spite of their pain. They are pioneering the courage it takes to face our pain, and learn to live with it in a way which isn’t as crippling.

The Science of MindBody

The evidence, as reported by dozens of respectable M.D.’s, Ph.D.’s, Physiologists, is that our bodies hold trauma in the cells. Your body remembers. Whether it was severe emotional trauma or severe physical trauma, these defining events from our lives continue to exist within our very cells. Not just the brain, but the entire body.

Whether emotional or physical, these events carried impact energy into our tissues. For people who are in chronic pain, impact energy stored in our bodies is manifesting itself as that pain. This stored impact energy, referred to as cellular memory, is what gets triggered when we lose control of ourselves. Hidden variables from our environment can cause abrupt changes in our thoughts and behaviors, without us being aware of it all until afterward.

The science of epigenetics has proven that our trauma experiences pass all the way to our grandchildren!

The only way such a thing is possible is if the body’s cells are writing experiential memory into our DNA strands as a long-term memory mechanism. The source of our worries lives within the very tissues of our flesh.

What this means is that what you’ve always known, and what you’ve been avoiding your entire life: the only way out of pain is walking through the veil of past traumatic events, sometimes by reliving painful memories; and sometimes by uncovering forgotten painful memories. Lucky for us, modern mind-body medicine takes the entire self+bodymind system into account.

The only way to return to a relationship with your body is to recover the ability to listen to it, to increase self-awareness. If you lack a good relationship with your bodymind, you are missing out on millions of signals it’s sending while trying to reach you. Our pain essentially represents our body’s screaming to release trauma, to look into horrors of our past and move through them. This can be done with a little help from modern mind-body science.

We Can’t Do It Alone

However, almost everyone needs help pushing through each threshold of recovery, and this is why social interaction and groups are so crucial to any possible recovery plan. With help, we can face our childhood traumas and face our fears. 

When we do not confront our pain, we experience more pain by running away from it. Traumatic events hold energy which can take control of our bodymind without our conscious awareness. Such events are made possible by a mechanism in our brain which shuts off or bypasses our conscious awareness even when we recall a painful incident. The cells are continually recording their experience, and trauma remains held within the cells. It explains why we’ll feel pain in different areas of our bodies.

This Ultimate Guide to BodyMind Self-Healing will help point you towards your path of self-healing. It contains a ton of practical information you can use right now to help relieve suffering for yourself and those you love.

What Letting Go Means

You’ve heard it said to “just let go,” but nobody ever mentions what that means. How can we “just let go” and how do we know if it has happened?

In my experience, once I have reviewed my traumatic memories enough times, whether during meditation or during a therapy session, the energy is either dissipated or otherwise it moves into a place where it can no longer bother me. This is what letting go has felt like; the release of trauma is always a major relief!

Also, I relate the pain of physical rehabilitation as similar to the pain of mental rehabilitation: rehab is painful, whether you’re learning to walk after an accident, or learning to reconnect with the world after your tour of combat.

The only way to let go is by facing the pain head-on. And when we finally look at what has always remained just out of view, we re-classify the events by moving the case files from the subconscious and into conscious awareness. Upon full evaluation of our bad incidents, they no longer hold power over our thoughts or actions.

We thereby deflate the traumatic grip of painful events from our childhood. Eventually, this deflation can become permanent. We reassign the impact of those events through the process of bringing our awareness to the pain within our bodies, our cells.

When we learn how to listen to our bodymind, self-healing can begin. The calmness of body and mind is where self-awareness resides.

 

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Surgery for Chronic Pain is Never a Good Idea

I’m back from my chronic pain group at the VA hospital. That’s a giant building where a bunch of good people are working on a bunch of hurting and ill folks from the military.

It’s always a gamble to agree to surgeries which bring knives in proximity to your body’s primary network cables in your backbone, cutting-tools slicing so close to our garden-hose of life, the spinal cord. Doing anything of this extreme nature is always going to be very risky. Unless you’re living in one of the Star Wars, Star Trek, or Starship Troopers universes, you’re not going to be able to have nanotechnology rebuild your body to original specs for quite some time yet.

If you’re willing to go behind the giant rack of gear that’s running your keep-me-alive-at-all-costs systems and start messing around with the cords back there, then you are both more desperate and more courageous than I care to imagine!

I’m not willing to go for it. Whoops, I already did. As it turns out, I’ve already exchanged one kind of discomfort for another, and it hasn’t gotten any easier to live with my pain since the surgery. I’m now in the camp of folks who wonder whether having surgery was the right thing to do? I know, it was 25 years ago, but still… I believed getting the surgery would help ease my discomfort and pain because the surgeon said it would!

It did not alleviate my pain. Maybe this has happened to you?

Why You Should Never Get Fusion Surgery for Plain Back Pain

Robert Langreth, Forbes

 

Surgery is always inadvisable for chronic pain

Today, the respectable Ph.D. head of the psychology chronic pain group for the Denver Veterans Administration facility told me that having surgery for chronic pain is always inadvisable. Excuse me? I’m not sure folks knew this just twenty-five years ago when I had shoulder surgery at the Chicago VA hospital.

By the time I had my surgery in 1994, I had already experienced about seven years of chronic pain. Between, 1991 and 1992, I fought for my rights as a U.S. Veteran to receive treatment for a service-connected injury with the state Senator. Working with the Senator’s office, I was able to get integrated into the VA medical system and was awarded a minimum disability rating for my right shoulder. Without persistence on my part as a twenty-five-year-old, I would never have received the disability reward, and never would have been given the much-anticipated discomfort-relief surgery for my right shoulder.

Back in 1989, a few months after being discharged from the U.S. Navy on early leave, I started working out and using my shoulders more than ever. It grew so uncomfortable that my mom set up an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to quiet my complaints (I lived at home for six months after the Navy). Within moments of examining my shoulder with his hands, the surgeon exclaimed, “Oh my God! You need to have surgery on this shoulder right away!”

Looking back now, I’m laughing. Of course, that’s what the surgeon would say! The surgeon said it with such conviction, I believed I needed surgery, and needed it right away. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the $5k out-of-pocket at the time but soon found an alternative which was free. Somehow I came to understand that I needed to fight for my government-promised benefits because of the nature of my circumstances: I had injured my shoulder while in service, and the extent of the injury got misdiagnosed at the time.

Anyway, I guess these are the big thoughts that weigh on me whenever I think of my chronic pain today.  The circumstances of the accident, and the decisions which lead to eventual surgery. This story, which is still unfolding, also holds evidence that without the accident, the surgery, and the years of pain, I may never have been driven towards the discovery of my life’s most profound and rewarding work.

Time does not heal all wounds

We’ve heard time heals all wounds by burying the past, but that’s just a lie!

I think it does change the present to look at our past situations, because by facing it we ultimately decide to forgive everyone all the way around, including and especially ourselves. You’ve gotta make peace with yourself, man.  Letting go means you will not continue to hold within your bodymind what it feels like to wish you could have made a different choice, and perhaps be more pain-free today. There’s no reason to look back and be there again, feeling like you did when it first happened.

Except for one damn good reason: your bodymind holds that past pain inside the very cells which make up your arms, your legs, your skin, your organs, and your brain. It’s all part of a system that’s recording your experience and storing the most impactful events of your life. And you need to get your body to let go of original trauma so that your body will no longer use it against you.

The deep burden you hold inside yourself which makes you feel hate or rage or shame at whatever it is that has happened to you? It’s possible to dig it all up and let it all go. The ocean of guilt you might feel for all the horrible things you may have done to yourself in your life is something which can fuel and transform your hatred of the world into love for yourself and others.

When stewing in your filthy sewer thoughts about how you wish things could have been different is likely something you’ve heard many times before now. It’s easy for somebody to say, “So stop thinking about it, because you’re training your brain to focus on what you don’t like!” and not know HOW to stop thinking about it.

Finding our self-directed healing path

Before now, there wasn’t a clear and easy way to get yourself out of the dark-thoughts stew.

The relationship you make with your bodymind will help you see the separation between your awareness and your body’s autonomous intelligent systems which keep you alive. It will become easy for you to recognize when your awareness is focused on your bodymind-generated dark thoughts. These dark thoughts are driven by stored anger and fear, and they will erode your self-confidence throughout the day if you listen. You want to do everything you can to learn how to minimize these bodymind patterns.

It is impossible to see the horizon when your face is pressed into the dirt.

What’s going on inside your head and inside your body can all be turned around and calmed down, in the best way possible, by learning to bring your conscious awareness into command of some of your body’s automatic systems at will, despite the surrounding circumstances. It means you can learn how to turn off your animal mind and calm the fight-flight response mechanisms through the knowledge and practice of mind-body concepts. An example of one autonomous system your consciousness has control over right now is your breathing.

Here’s an easy equation for you:  Your Self-Awareness + Your BodyMind = YOUR WHOLE BEING. There are seen and unseen aspects to our intelligence. While no one can look at your thoughts, we can observe your behaviors. And while no one can see your pain, it can still completely consume all of your energy and awareness.

We can talk about your consciousness plus your bodymind without any need to complicate things further with “chemical imbalances” or “estrogen” or “dopamine” or words like that; we don’t need anything but logic to help clarify the apparent relationship between our self-awareness and our body and mind. The body is mind. Knowing this should change everything about the way we approach health and wellness.

As it turns out, there are hundreds of millions of people who do not know that drugs and surgeries should be considered “last-step” options after over 100+ other things they could try first. In our minds, when we believe an operation will help, it’s often the only thing we look forward to, especially when our doctors advise that’s what we should do!  But for many of us, after having our surgeries, we often think we made a big mistake. I would undo my operation if I could.

Although it feels good to share and let it go through writing, there’s no point for me to dwell upon it any longer.