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DIY Home Float Therapy – A Little Bit of Magic, A Little Bit of Science

floatation-therapy-floating-article-button this image shows a drone view of a dark-haired woman wearing a sports bikini bottom and sport top is floating in the most beautiful blue water. Click this button to read the article on Floatation Therapy here on TheBodyIsMind

FLOAT THERAPY Ranks #2 For Effectiveness.

I think everyone should have their own float tank. Float therapy is the #2 most-recommended self-healing modality listed in the Ultimate Healing Guide.

As of this writing, I’ve spent 2,600 minutes experiencing sensory deprivation floatation in skin-temperature Epsom salt baths while also in pure darkness and silence. I know this because I’ve been logging it since December 2017. This includes over 40 hours floating in Colorado’s original “largest float spa” down in Parker, a 4-tank facility named Astral Float Spa.

Floatation therapy is as close as we’re gonna come to what it might feel like to float inside a Star Trek force field; you can hover in dozens of back-down or side-down positions as though weightless. This completely releases the tensions from every muscle in your body, if you give it enough time.

While you’re floating, you’re free to work on your imagination, formulate solutions to your problems, and imagining a brighter future where pain doesn’t play such a large role in your life.

Floating gives you a real chance to understand what it feels like to “let go” both mentally and physically. If you don’t get at least that much out of it, then you haven’t done floating long enough. This is advanced self-mastery at work, an easement into increased self-awareness… which is what we’re after on the self-healing path. Floating in space gives you high doses of self-awareness; just ask any astronaut.

Seriously, you won’t get much closer to what it must feel like to float in space without actually experiencing zero-G. Of course, the fluids in your body, your organs, and the food in your stomach still know which way is down. But beyond that, there are periods when you can expect to completely lose your orientation and feel like you’re floating vertically, head upwards.

Ultimately, you can plan to eventually experience complete disembodiment while floating; it becomes a gateway to the lucid dream state.

Float Spa Therapy: An Advanced Visualization Chamber

For those who are visionaries and visual people in general, consider the float tank as an advanced visualization chamber.

I’ve been a vision-boarding kind of guy every since I was about 19 years old. I have several pictures I drew back then of what my home studio would look like, as well as photo collages put together from cut-outs of keyboards and professional music gear taken from magazines. Years later, my home studio became reality and I never doubted it would happen. Fact is, I ended up with more gear than I ever dreamed back when I was only nineteen.

Dream Studio Rack and Keyboards circa 1989

Dream Studio Rack and Keyboards circa 1989

Imagination plays a key factor to your success on a self-directed healing path, so it makes sense that you’d want to work on strengthening your ability to imagine a better you. When you’re floating, after you’ve released your tension and have less attention on your body, you can begin to imagine what it might feel like to have less pain.

You can imagine waves of mentally-induced relaxation washing down through your body. You can imagine a future where maybe you don’t have as much pain. You can spend time devoted entirely to using your imagination on being free from your additions.

Do not underestimate the power of being isolated with your conscious awareness and time devoted to self-healing, self-care, and self-compassion.

DIY Home Floatation Solution

The Zen Co float tent v1.5 home float therapy tank is the most affordable way to add sensory-deprivation floating to your home. I personally contend that the self-healing ratio is higher with float therapy than with almost every other method available. For under $3k, you get quite a bit of kit to put together. As far as I’m concerned, this is the DIY home flotation solution which everyone’s been looking for since the 1960’s!

Zen float tent setup in the basement for home floatation therapy - The Body Is Mind

The Zen Float Co. Float Tent v1.5 fully assembled in the basement.

This substantial bit of kit weighs 1000 lbs. and was delivered via FedEx Freight in a single box. 850 pounds of it was the magnesium sulfate. The water tub comes as a folded single piece of man-made polymer material which can withstand the pressure from holding 2000 pounds of water and minerals plus your body weight. This includes 200 gallons of water, and all that is hung from fat stainless steel tubing on six legs with metal all the way around and down to the floor.

The tent kit tops off the tub and seals the darkness and moisture inside. A UV filter, filter bag, submersible water pump, a circulation system, a moisture barrier, tank-sized super-efficient heating pads, and a water temperature control system are all part of the kit.

Magnesium Sulphate Heptahydrate, also known as Epsom salt, is an inorganic compound made of magnesium, sulphur and oxygen. The powdery substance is used for everything from helping plants grow to helping muscles relax. NordFeed

The essential minerals magnesium and sulfur are chemically bound with water molecules to form Epsom salt, which is not really a salt at all. Sulfur, after calcium and phosphorus, is the most abundant mineral element found in our body. And magnesium is another essential mineral used for many functions in our body, including helping with the manufacture of proteins.

I had to huff all 1000 pounds up a flight of steps to the front porch, then down a flight of steps to stage the kit build in my basement. I time-lapsed everything except the tent setup. If I didn’t have a million other things to think about, I would have captured the entire kit build but missed the final steps.

Suffice to say that the tent-build was the least effort-intensive, and I couldn’t be more proud and excited to take full possession of a viable solution for my chronic pain.

The Zen float tent kit before assembly, laid out in the garage.

The Zen Co. float tent kit before assembly, laid out in the garage.

Having a DIY home float therapy solution in my basement is, for me, more exciting than when I purchased my first keyboard synthesizer back in 1987, maybe even more exciting than my 2nd Christmas in 1968. In fact, I can’t think of many things more exciting than this… with the distinguished and obvious exception that I have the privilege to live with my wife, Imzadi, best friend, and soul mate, and our intelligent, beautiful daughter.

Why floatation therapy works so well

There are two primary factors for the effectiveness of float therapy.

First, the opposing forces of gravity and buoyancy fight to hold you in a static position, effortlessly, where there is an equal force against your body from every direction of the water. This allows you to relax more deeply than anything you can experience while standing, sitting, or even laying down in the most comfortable bed.

Even when you’re laying in your favorite mattress, your muscles are fighting against the force of gravity while compensating for uneven pressure and impingements upon your flesh and bones. There’s no possible way that you can lay in any position on a surface like a memory foam or latex mattress and not feel different areas of pressure against your body. Floatation gets you there.

Second, due to the nature of sensory deprivation, your nervous system actually has a chance to calm down. To be honest, laying suspended within a dark space where you come to feel disembodied, you have the luxury to spend your conscious awareness on the specific task of calming your mind and calming your body.

The Zen Float Co. offers Veterans 10% discounts on home float kits. Tell them we sent ya!

As you lay floating peacefully, your mind slows and you come to realize you’re using chronically tensed muscles to hold your head, your neck, and your shoulders, perhaps even your hips, in a certain position created by nothing other than tension. It starts to become glaringly obvious that the stress and tension we hold in our bodies is directly related to the rigidity of our muscles. At some point after maybe an hour of floating, you consciously start to allow yourself to relax, to let go, and stop trying so hard just to hold yourself together.

In the float tank, you are left to fend with your own thoughts and emotions within the body and in your mind. You are there by yourself, in a safe space where you can let your guard down and explore the depths of your consciousness and relationship to the universe. You let go of your worries just as easily as you let go of your stress.

Floating is the Ultimate Water Bed

Floatation is different. When you’re laying in a stationary body of water which is saturated with minerals, you float effortlessly atop the water. Even when you fill your lungs with air and exhale, you won’t experience any rising or falling because the water buoys your body perfectly in a literal force field: you are suspended by the atomic forces of the molecules and atoms within the mineral-saturated water.

Push your hands towards the bottom of the 10 inches of water, and the moment you release your muscles, your arms float back to the surface. Your whole body is suspended in the most comfortable and relaxing state you could imagine. It’s the ultimate water bed! Let nothing stand between the molecules of your skin and the molecules of the water.

Besides, everyone knows floating in an Epsom salt bath is rejuvenating.

Floatation is Accelerated Meditation Practice

If you’ve ever wondered what it must feel like to meditate, treat yourself to at least five hours of floatation at your nearest float spa.

Part of the science behind meditation is that it allows you to consciously wind down the mind, separate yourself from your thoughts, and calm your body into the zone of relaxation. The entire objective of anything like this is to relax the nervous system and get into a state of mind where you feel balanced and centered.

Float Therapy is The Most Relaxing Thing You’ll Ever Do

Sure, hanging out on that beach in the Southern Indian Ocean with a drink in your hand was relaxing.

But there’s no way you’re going to step out of a float tank and not feel super relaxed on a level which rivals your most relaxing memories. Many people claim floatation is the most relaxing thing they’ve ever done. I agree.

In my case, I would consider floatation even more effective at releasing pain than deep-tissue massage therapy; I don’t feel sore afterward, and nobody needs a tip.

Finding a quiet place where your self-healing powers can have a chance to shine is what this modality is all about. The science is in the water. The magic happens when you add your self-awareness to the mix.

Read more in depth about the science and magic behind floating in our Floatation Therapy article and explore other modalities listed in the Ultimate Healing Guide as part of your self-directed healing path.

Here’s to a better you. Lot’s of people say that, but only you  can prove them right.

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Take a Binaural Train Journey Through the I70 Corridor and Wind Down Your Brain

The Colorado River and the I70 Corridor at New Castle, Colorado

The I70 Corridor and Colorado River at beautiful New Castle, Colorado, looking west towards Rifle, CO.

I put my synthesizers to work and created a track earlier this year that was intended to help me forget about my pain and fall asleep. It works so well that if I listen to it mid-morning, I still get groggy.

I already shared this track in a previous post, but wanted to share it again because I use it so often when I need to dial back a brain overload.

“Binaural beats” are difficult to describe without getting technical, and I don’t want to get technical on you here. Once you listen to the track below, you’ll hear the beats in the audio. Good luck trying to describe them after you listen.

Binaural beats do not work on speakers. You will not experience brainwave entrainment with binaural beats unless you listen to them on headphones or earbuds. The sound needs to go directly into your ear holes. I consider it to be a form of accelerated meditation.

To create binaural beats, I use frequencies on the synthesizer which are mostly in the sub-bass territory. So if you don’t have good earbuds that can produce some phat bass, then you might not get the full effect. Get yourself some Smokin’ Buds 2 for $30.

Or if you’re a high-fidelity fanatic like me, full-sized headphones work – but only if you’ve got a headphone amp to drive them with. The audio amplifiers in smartphones are not powerful enough to move full-sized headphone magnets.

Les Konley sporting his AKG_K701s reference headphones

Sporting some sweet open-back AKG K-701 reference headphones.

The volume should be medium loud. It should feel like the sound waves are reaching through your earbuds and stroking your lizard brain with sound vibrations, the same way you’d stroke a cat’s soft fur with the palm of your hand. It should almost tickle  the middle of your brain.

The “white noise” foundation of this track (below) is a stereo field recording of the I70 corridor where New Castle nestles up against the Colorado River, and the interstate highway weaves parallel ribbons along the steel curves of railroad tracks that carry multiple freight and Amtrak trains through the rugged mountains beyond. (See opening image).

Sooth Music by Les Konley

There is no trickery and nothing “subliminal” about this track. That’s a good  dragon, by the way. That dragon would defend honor and integrity.

About a minute into it, we hear a freight train go by. It’s got a squeaky wheel. The fairly annoying noise goes by from right to left, above the din of the highway traffic; chiseled mountainous ridges nearby reflect the sound of rubber hitting asphalt at high speeds. Let the squeaky wheel carry with it all your worries as it vanishes to leave you drifting through the rest of the track.

By five minutes in, you’re beginning to relax and so is your brain. The binaural frequencies are synchronizing your brain while you listen, and the effect deepens the longer you listen.

Enjoy the track with your eyes closed, breathing deeply into your belly – in through your nose, out through your nose – and allow your attention to be held by the complex tapestry of healing sound unfolding into your ear canals and feel  it winding down your brain.

Again, please use headphones to listen to this track when you can lay back and relax. Listen a second time for a deepened effect.

So – how would you describe the sound of the binaural beats in this track? Did it make you sleepy? Did it help you relax?

8 Ways To Find Bliss Without Opioids or Surgery

this image of a lava cauldron or volcano lava pool is used as the header image for the heat therapy article of the Ultimate Healing Guide - The Body Is Mind
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Veterans Chronic Pain Group and Treatments That Work at the Brand New Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center

john d. otis treatments that work managing chronic pain a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach

I attended my 10th Chronic Pain Group with the VA this week and was delighted to be one of the first Veterans to visit the new $1.8 billion VA Hospital in Aurora, Colorado.

First of all, the new Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center is fantastic! The whole series of buildings are connected via a majestic, continuously-curving central concourse with a 5-story atrium running the entire half-mile length. This grand hallway accounts for a significant portion of the interior space. When I was there, it was the first week of opening and still mostly empty.

The Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center Aurora Colorado

The Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center Aurora Colorado – Concourse between building 2 and 3.

The old VA hospital in Denver was built in 1952 and is still functional, but it’s a design feels like a traditional hospital with hallways which are barely wide enough for two people to pass. By contrast, the new hospital feels spacious and open, at least until you get into an interior room without any windows.

Giant Robot Art at the VA Rocky Mountain Regional Medical Center in Colorado - PTSD - Outside Looking In by Rod Ford

This giant robot art “PTSD – Outside Looking In,” standing about 10 feet tall, is on Exhibit at the new Rocky Mountain Regional Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado (a Veterans Administration building)

While new facility has fewer hospital beds than the old hospital, it offers much larger rooms for individuals plus space for their families to spend the night, even a private bathroom… amenities which weren’t available in the old hospital. The new center’s spinal clinic, which won’t open until 2019, will offer inpatient beds, a rehabilitation gym, a hydrotherapy pool, and an outdoor courtyard with therapeutic elements such as stairs and varied surfaces on which to practice maneuvering a wheelchair.

Treatments That Work

Overall, my commitment to 10 therapy sessions has been well worth my time. I received many intangible benefits, including a new perspective on my pain which affords me more control over my reactions, emotions, and prevention of pain flare-ups.

Each session of the Veterans chronic pain group is masterfully guided by a nationally renowned pain expert, a Ph.D. who has been working with the Denver VA since 1993. He heads up the Health Psychology group and is the Director of Pain Psychology and the Chronic Pain Care Clinic, and he hosts five different chronic pain groups each week. It was an honor, a privilege, and a healing experience to be in this doctor’s intelligent and compassionate care.

His team was one of the first to move over into the much anticipated VA facility located in Aurora, Colorado, which just opened on July 21, 2018.

Managing Chronic Pain by John D. Otis workbook cover

The VA’s program for the chronic pain group follows the guidelines from the book “Managing Chronic Pain: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approach” by Dr. John D. Otis. The workbook is priced online well over $20, but they are given free of charge to the Veterans who attend this group therapy. I think the Therapist’s Guide to the program looks interesting enough to grab a copy for myself. Gleaning every insight into the perspectives involved with therapy helps me have a better understanding of treatment.

Each session of the program teaches a new skill you can use to help manage chronic pain that will complement your medical treatment. With practice, these techniques can help reduce your pain and increase your ability to cope. This program enables you to take control of your pain, which can improve the quality of your life as well as decrease your reliance upon medical interventions [including drugs].” From David H. Barlow, Editor in Chief of TreatmentsThatWork

The workbook is broken down into 12 chapters which cover the following topics:

  • Education on Chronic Pain
  • Theories of Pain and Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Visual Imagery
  • Automatic Thoughts and Pain
  • Cognitive Restructuring (to practice changing negative thoughts into positive coping thoughts)
  • Stress Management
  • Time-Based Pacing
  • Pleasant Activity Scheduling
  • Anger Management
  • Sleep Hygiene
  • and Relapse Prevention and Flare-Up Planning

One chapter is used as the basis for each session.

Improvement Tracking

Every session usually starts out by having Veterans in attendance fill out a simple 3-step PEG scale to measure our perceived level of pain for the past week. On a 0-30 scale, we’re essentially arbitrarily grading how much attention pain has stolen from our lives.  I started off with a score of 15 and ended after my ten visits with a score of 5, which is a significant reduction. Many Veterans who shared the room with me were scoring higher than 24 – which is more intense than I have probably ever experienced.

The difference group therapy provided to me was the #2 question on the PEG scale: “What number best describes how, during the past week, pain has interfered with your enjoyment of life?” The highest number I filled in was a 6, and the lowest was a 1. Of course, this scale is arbitrary and is really just a measure between self-awareness and the perception of pain so that we can track how it changes over time.

To recap, I began my therapy by claiming that chronic pain had stolen 50% of my waking life, and only 16% of my waking life by the time I had attended 10 pain group therapy sessions. I consider this to be a 34% change in my perception of suffering from pain. But to be honest, I was combining a whole bunch of therapies during this time. Thus, my change in PEG journals is not a measure of how much group therapy changed me as much as the general improvement or change I experienced in between the time of my first and tenth sessions – which was just about 6 months for those who wonder.

The Development of a New Perspective

While my chronic pain is blamed by me on a shoulder injury, which I sustained while in service, it was not a combat accident. During chronic pain group at the old VA hospital, I encountered Vietnam-era soldiers who had been literally blown up by explosions or had witness their comrades being blown up and still have nightmares today.

By listening to these men, the degree of my personal trauma and perceived suffering was cast into a stark perspective. I realized that in my life, while everything is relative to each person’s unique circumstances, I had very little to complain about.

The degree to which we are haunted by our traumas and experience suffering has a significant portion of its origins in the way we’re thinking about things, the way we’re looking at the past more specifically, and the way we’re holding onto it.

Turns out, holding onto past trauma is something the body was designed to do automatically. Meanwhile, letting go of trauma requires the development of our self-awareness muscle memory (the frontal lobes of the brain) through awareness training. This may include any number of things, such as meditation, brainwave entrainment, floatation therapy, or clinical Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Therefore, it’s not necessarily even our conscious choice when we “hold onto things,” and we are unable to simply “let go of things” because we haven’t yet developed that skill.

The Wonderful Depth of Empathy and a Connection to Others

Unfortunately, one of the members of the chronic pain group was lost during my span of time with the group. Learning of his death was shocking but not surprising. He had a lot of problems and was rapidly collapsing inwards upon himself under the gravity of pain so great that it was unbelievable to me this man could ever find the motivation to make it out of his house and to the group.

After getting home and cracking open a beer to sob over, I sat down and cried for this man. It’s the first time I’ve ever cried for someone I barely knew. It’s the first time I experienced love for somebody else for being part of the human race. He was someone we could all relate to in his struggles with life. I cried, and it felt good to have empathy for another.

And then I became overjoyed to experience this feeling for the first time in my life. It was the first time I felt love for a near stranger, whom I had only known for a few hours between maybe three or four sessions before he was gone. I’ve never felt this depth of empathy for anyone so easily, so casually. Usually, feeling an emotion this deep only happens when I’m feeling self-pity. The nature of the empathy emotion, and the energy it carried, felt quite a bit different in my body.

Conclusion: Major Healing Progress, Still Plenty of Room for Improvement

That was a turning point in my life, because, through group therapy, I have finally come to know love for others (other than family). New territory!

It is this perspective, I believe, one must have in order to experience true compassion for self and others. Group Therapy with the VA has been a healing experience.

I wish the same for all my fellow Veterans but know it won’t be possible for everyone to recover from war.

We can certainly try though. And there’s no doubt, a whole lot more can still be done to help our Veterans. That’s why I founded the U.S. Veterans Treatment Discount Program, starting with Colorado. Expansion plans for a 50-100% discount program for Veterans include Washington, Texas, Virginia, and Florida.

As a result of the remarkable improvement from a self-directed healing path, I’m ready to help others achieve the same. I hope some of you will help too!

Thanks to the VA program for developing the Veterans Chronic Pain Group Therapy (CBT-based group therapy), and enormous gratitude to the man who helped me change my perspective and gives so much of his time helping others to find a way out of misery.

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Welcome to The Body Is Mind

welcome to the body is mind ultimate healing guide blog post

TheBodyIsMind.com

Educational Project

For most of us, pharmaceutical medicine does nothing to restore a belief in ourselves or purpose in our lives. And without love, life is not worth living. Neither drugs nor surgery will give you any of these.  I developed TheBodyIsMind.com and the Ultimate Healing Guide™ for many reasons. Primary among them was knowing that the pills and surgery of modern medicine do not address the role our consciousness plays in healing. Three other main reasons drove my passion and productivity.

“Belief can be so strong that pharmaceutical companies use double- and triple-blind randomized studies to try to exclude the power of the mind over the body when evaluating new drugs.” Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of the book You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter

First, after 30 years of neglect of my health and avoidance of chronic pain management, I made remarkable progress towards self-healing in just a couple of months. I found great relief through a combination of therapies and self-care modalities my doctor never told me about; I discovered them for myself. Now, after 30 years of dealing with chronic pain, I’ve finally made some choices which have rewarded me with amazing results and positive progress. But taking my health seriously didn’t happen until I first reconnected with my heart and learned self-compassion.

Second, as a U.S. Veteran of the U.S. Navy, I’ve made it my mission to help fellow Veterans and consequently the millions of people nationwide and around the world who suffer from chronic pain and stress-related conditions. During my journey, I’ve discovered 101+ alternative methods to try before resorting to spinal fusion surgery for my neck or becoming dependent upon any prescription painkillers. After witnessing Veterans who have found no relief with drugs or surgery but instead find themselves in a spiral of hopelessness and despair, I could not stand by and do nothing.

Finally, there was no single resource online that brought together all the viable self-care methods available in the world. Other websites are focused on defining what’s wrong with us, side-effect descriptions and dosage warnings for our prescription drugs, and the names of every possible thing that can go wrong with our body.

In an age when we’re all used to medicines and surgeries for everything that ails us, there are plenty of websites with tons of information about how to manage our medicines.What was missing was a comprehensive guide that could educate people on modern self-healing principles and the-body-is-mind approach as it applies to real life.

Go find your self-healing powers:

Ultimate Healing Guide

Until now, there was no complete common sense guide to help us quickly find a complete menu of alternative therapies and healing techniques. These self-care wellness activities and therapies are not always covered by your insurance, because they help keep you out of the medical-pharmaceutical system to begin with.

What the Doctor Doesn’t Know May Hurt Us

For thousands of years, humankind has struggled to define the nature of ourselves, and the relation between self, mind, body, brain, spirit, and soul. Do we define our existence by what can be seen (our body) or what cannot be seen (consciousness, mind, spirit), or is it a combination of both?

People argue over whether we have a soul, whether God exists, whether our consciousness arises from our biology, or whether our biology arises from higher consciousness. How we see this relationship between ourselves and the universe is the basis for our very core beliefs. These fundamental principles of our existence give rise to religion, spirituality, science, and politics.

In the current state of pharmaceutical medicine, most doctors define us as a body only, and therefore only treat that piece. Psychologists treat the mind and psychiatry takes care of the brain.

There is more to us though. What passes for medicine today is nothing but a strongly competitive commercial business model. How is it there are more than 100 ways which our doctors have never told us about to reduce or eliminate chronic pain? Why is it that pharmaceuticals are always the go-to option, especially considering all the harsh side-effects? Why does every magazine I read start with a two-page advertisement for a more powerful drug?

Western medicine has tried with determination to separate mind and body for several hundred of years. Since the dawn of the scientific method, the separation between materialistic and spiritualistic schools of thought have driven medical science to treat the mind, body, and consciousness as separate things. And, with pharmaceutical-driven medicine, drugs are, for the most part, the first and only option to treat all three aspects of ourselves.

The most profound discoveries in relation to how the consciousness affects the mind and body have been made within the last ten years.

The good news is a remarkable story is beginning to emerge which simplifies the nature of our existence and makes it easy for us to discover a path towards the ultimate healing of body, mind, and self. The role consciousness plays in the remarkable self-healing stories we’re hearing from all around the world is finally being taken into more serious consideration by the people in the West.

The body and mind are one in the same. The body is mind, and we can heal our body and mind without pills or high-risk experimental surgery.

Navigation button image depicting the shape of a human body with orange curved and criss-crossing lines depicting the energy of the human body and with the caption THE BODY IS MIND at the top.

The Body-Mind Science of the 21st Century

Within psychotherapy, it is now widely understood that the body is the subconscious mind. Healing is not possible without considering this vital truth. This makes existing medicine as we know it obsolete. This new perspective changes our entire approach to holistic medicine and whole-body wellness goals.

With this relatively new (but ancient) understanding of the nature of ourselves, we have come to learn that the mind permeates every cell of the human body. We now know the trauma from all our emotional and physical pain is stored in the body; our body remembers!

We also know that everything which has ever happened to us is stored throughout the body, not just the brain. The implications of this are that previous understandings should be thrown out the window. (NERD ALERT: for anyone interested, our body could be considered to be organic holographic memory).

Furthermore, we now know, without a doubt, that our body as the mind has dominion over our brain; that our brain, body, and mind are not separate systems; and that our conscious self-awareness has ultimate command over all three (brain, body, and mind).

These startling new insights have given rise to Mind-Body Science and Mind-Body Medicine. These modern bodymind concepts regarding wellness are the salvation from trauma, pain, and suffering for the entire world.

In other words, there is more HOPE now than ever before. Welcome to the 21st century! Modern technology makes self-healing a real possibility for nine out of ten people living today. And it doesn’t start with a pill or surgery; it begins with the rehabilitation of your self-awareness, a release from your trauma, and the recovery of your capacity to love yourself – and which usually involves the mending of one’s heart.

Let’s put you back into the command seat of your bodymind.

This concept could be stated as: self + bodymind.

Taking Back Control

We perceive that our emotions (body) and thoughts (mind) can take control of our free will (conscious self). For example, losing your mind.

We can also experience times when our conscious free-will takes control over our emotions and thoughts. For example, making healthy choices.

When we are out of control, the bodymind has power over us, and we feel helpless.

When we give up our freedom of choice and personal responsibility for our health to a medical system, we are also out of control, and in many cases, we end up with even more pain and despair.

Many doctors and surgeons are turning away from their pharmaceutical-industry training to embrace the new wellness system which includes treating self+bodymind as a complete unit.

The end-result of self-body-mind synchronicity is self-healing. You already have god-like self-healing powers hiding inside every single one of your body’s cells, and all you need to do is reach inside and find it. Obviously easier said than done, but you must begin the search!

The only things which can stand in your way of finding your god-like powers of healing are 1) limiting personal beliefs, 2) physical and emotional trauma, and 3) a lack of love or compassion for oneself.

All three of these shortcomings can now be healed. You can be healed!

Learn to calm your body and wind down your mind before a flare-up. Combine enough healing modalities, and magic happens: we begin to walk the path towards healing. We take back control of our wellness when we treat ourselves with a bit of self-compassion and practice more methods of self-care more often.

You already have everything you need to heal yourself… but only if you believe it’s true.

The Ultimate Healing Guide

 

 

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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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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.