Many people across the country have experienced current politics as directly impacting their moods and dispositions. More so than perhaps at any time since the ’60s there are sides, and lines in the sand, and overt contention. On TV, radio and social media, the news is bombastic, divisive, frightening and disheartening about the state of our Union.
While it is hard to track our general feelings about life over a one year period, I think many of us would agree that if we had taken a survey about our outlook on life in October of 2016, and then again in October of 2017, we would see a sharp decrease in feelings of hopefulness and general well-being, and a sharp increase in feelings of anxiousness, hopelessness, agitation and even rage.
Pain starts in the brain, and clinicians have had to get creative with how to reframe pain in the body.
I work on the acupuncture meridians that calm the nervous system and the organs in the body that deal with detoxification: kidney, liver and lung. Helping these organs do their job, whether they are underactive, overactive or stagnant, can take a lot of pressure off how we process our environment and our pain.
Pain is the number one reason why people come in to see chiropractors. Thankfully, chiropractic is very effective at treating both acute and chronic pain. But how? Well, first, we need to find out why you are in pain. Pain is one of the ways the body communicates that something is wrong. It may be from a slip and fall, which could result in obvious tissue injury, but sometimes pain starts without provocation. In either case, we need to do some investigating. This includes getting to know your history, followed by an exam, imaging, blood work or muscle testing. Once the cause is determined, chiropractors usually recommend a series of adjustments to correct the dysfunction in the joints and remove the nerve interference. This can help relieve muscle tension as well as correct and stabilize the affected joints.
Instrumental sound therapies and meditation exercises awaken the parasympathetic nervous system and can decrease stress hormones, calm the body and bring openness to lessen tension from personal histories and physical distress. Art therapy, a powerful relaxant, provides a platform with which to externalize the physical and emotional pain of life transitions; in a feeling of emptiness, it can spark insights and self-knowledge. The practice of yoga, with its heritage of healing and supportive technologies, can empower a broken heart, impassion our lives and goals and grace a wounded body with fluidity and flexibility.
Reflexology works with the nervous system. The action of a reflexology session directly addresses the more than 8,000 nerve endings in the feet. Through the alternating pressure of reflexology technique, your nerves become relaxed, and a few wonderful outcomes occur.
As your nerves relax, pain naturally subsides. Sometimes this is temporary symptom relief. Depending on the situation this can be enough to allow the body to create more permanent relief. In this state, your body is triggered to move into physiological relaxation, which is essentially “maintenance mode”. While in this mode, your body kicks into self-repair, and that is the real magic. General inflammation is reduced and your body is allowed the time and energy to work to heal itself.
From a scientific point of view there are many studies that show the efficacy of acupuncture for pain, as well as for other symptoms. New theories and observations are frequently coming to light, backing up acupuncture’s time-tested, 2,500-year-old reputation. For example, acupuncture has the ability to reduce inflammatory chemical messengers like TNF-α and increase levels of natural painkillers called endorphins.
Energy healing works well for both chronic and acute pain. Among the most popular are reiki and Healing Touch. As a Healing Touch practitioner, I look at pain from a holistic standpoint and understand that some physical pain might not have solely physical roots, but roots in the subconscious, or stored at the cellular level, where energetic disruptions occur. Some potential causes may include challenging life circumstances, ruminating thoughts, unpleasant memories, emotional perturbations or unsettling past experiences.
How do yoga, yoga therapy and meditation work to address pain?
Through breath-centered meditation and movement meditation, or yoga “asana” postures, the vagus nerve can be toned and the parasympathetic relaxation response can be turned on. It’s commonly said that there’s a “smoothing out” that happens when breath is focused on the places where pain is experienced. The phrase “send your breath to your knee” refers to the act of sending the energy, expansiveness and calm that can create that smoothing effect. It’s all because of the power of the mind, which doesn’t necessarily take away the actual pain but gives the person a different relationship to the pain by putting some space between them and the sensation.