Chronic pain and persistent physical symptoms
It’s not all in your head, it’s in your ‘BodyMind’
“What is your relationship with the sensation?” she asked. Within milliseconds my brain replied, “I am its captive. It has control over me”. The sensation in question was a throbbing pain in my knee. My response shocked me. My submissive relationship to the pain was unexpected. This was just a temporary pain from sitting awkwardly on the floor for 5 minutes. Imagine if you experienced chronic pain or persistent physical symptoms. If you were held captive by your pain every day. What if chronic pain controlled what you did and didn’t do every day. This is the reality for several of my clients.
I had attended the webinar run by Dr Helen Payne, Professor of Herts University in the UK, and creator of The BodyMind Approach, with a view to finding out different ways to help those clients. I had not expected to have such an immediate understanding of our relationship with sensations of chronic pain in the body.
What my clients tell me about their chronic pain or persistent physical symptoms
Every day in my studio I get clients to focus on the sensations they feel in their body. In some cases, people have been used to ignoring sensations, not wanting to listen to the messages the body had been screaming out to them. However, in others, they are all too aware of sensations of pain and discomfort. Their lives have contracted, become smaller, and less enjoyable as they retract their body away from chronic pain.
When people are held captive to chronic pain and other invisible symptoms, they sometimes feel their suffering is ignored or disbelieved by friends and family. A visible injury such as a broken limb would garner so much more sympathy. But their injury is invisible. Sometimes it is given the label ‘idiopathic’, which means that the medical professionals do not (yet) understand the cause. By the time they reach my studio they are often feeling let down by the medical system, frustrated, and angry with the lack of support from friends and family.
They also have often received a diagnosis of anxiety or depression on top of their symptoms. Well, wouldn’t you be depressed if you’d had chronic pain? Wouldn’t you feel anxious about moving your body if you had persistent physical symptoms?
How we can change your relationship to your bodily sensations
In The BodyMind Approach, and similar work by Peter Levine, PhD and Maggie Phillips, PhD on working with chronic pain, the idea is to let go of the condescending view that you may have been told that ‘it’s all in your head’, and instead focus on your body and the sensations you are feeling.
The goal is not to eliminate your symptoms, but instead change your relationship with the symptoms, getting you back in control of your body.
We do this by:
- Learning more about your symptoms from the inside out.
- Focusing on the sensations you feel in your body (from the outside and inside). And then making sense of these sensations in your mind.
- Learning to deepen your breathing.
- Re-engaging with your body in a safe way. Making it a safe space once more.
“Good breathing is essential to vibrant health. “ Alexander Lowen, “The Energy of Bioenergetics”.
Finding safety, lightness, and vitality in your body once more
In doing this work we are:
- Shifting your experience of the physical symptoms. Helping you develop internal capacity to self-manage your symptoms.
- Developing compassion for yourself and your body.
- Finding more movement, lightness, and vitality in your body.
- So that you feel more in control of your life again.
Are you currently experiencing chronic pain or persistent physical symptoms? Have you had your symptoms described as ‘idiopathic’ by medical professionals because they haven’t found a medical cause (yet)?
My vision is to help people to recognize that there is no separation between the body and the mind, and realize the impact they can have on their physical experience, thoughts, or emotions by becoming more embodied, changing their breathing and posture.
If you would like to talk to me about individual sessions please contact me on 0450 22 00 59 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org