If you’re suffering from fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or chronic illness, you might be curious about the importance of the mind body connection. If you’re not curious, you should be!
Simple Techniques That Can Help You Feel Better
Because the fact is that that simple easy techniques of mind-body healing have a good chance of helping you feel better and function more effectively. The can include less pain, better emotional state, and more energy. In some cases, the actual disease process can shift or improve when you activate deep relaxation, and transform stress and emotional pain.
These aren’t just my words. They’re supported by substantial body of research showing the importance of mindbody variables in chronic pain and chronic illness, and showing that mindbody techniques often help many people improve and feel better. For example, research tells us that we can use our mind to generate the relaxation response. The relaxation response is a well-documented restful state of mind and body, that helps with all kinds of things like better sleep, less suffering from pain, better learning and memory, lower blood pressure, decreased heart attacks, and so on.
Where Modern Science and Ancient Spiritual Wisdom Meet
This is an area where modern science and ancient spiritual wisdom agree.
Modern science is showing us about how we can activate physiologic healing responses and transform negative emotions and trauma.
And the worlds spiritual traditions speak about the same principles. We have a body, and an aspect of ourselves that is “above” the body. Lets call that the soul. The soul shares vitality, creativity, purpose, and meaning with the body. In the Torah tradition the soul is constantly irrigating the body with energy and life. It contains the “blueprint” of who you are an why you came to the world. So it has the capacity to help your body and emotions heal, and to realign itself with life, meaning, and purpose. These are incredibly valuable in your healing process.
If you don’t believe in the soul, you can call it, “the powers of the mind”. The process of healing is the same, regardless of your belief system.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (luketei Mohoran 22:5) shares an interesting understanding of the process. He points out that the mind and soul are dynamic and flexible, and have access to insight, wisdom and understanding, regardless of the state of the body. He suggests using the powers of the mind and soul to have compassion on the body, and thus purify and elevate the body. And then the body will be elevated to the place of new insight. When we condition the body with insights and wisdom of the soul, the body is purified.
He’s talking about a healing process. About returning to ourselves and revitalizing our sense of purpose and connection in the world. The language he uses is exquisite. He says,
“Using the insights and awareness of the mind to have compassion on the body”. It’s a beautiful phrase!
Why Do We Need to Have Compassion on the Body?
It’s so easy to develop an antagonistic relationship with the suffering of the body.
In my practice caring for thousands of people with chronic pain and illness, there is a recurrent theme. For many people, pain, trauma, fatigue, paralysis, and disabilty generate toxic beliefs and emotions. Frustration, anger, blame, shame, hopelessness, overwhelm.
Suppose you’re dealing with chronic pain or illness. You’re exhausted all the time. It’s hard to get out of bed. Maybe there has been a neurological injury and you can’t use your arm or leg or both. You can’t function. It’s so natural and easy that those physical feelings generate frustration, anger, helplessness, fear, overwhelm. And it’s not your fault.
And all of those painful mental/emotional states generate biochemistry that can worsen the pain, fatigue, weakness, inflammation, insomnia, etc. That is well-established scientific fact.
It’s a vicious cycle. Physical pain and dysfunction that generate mental/emotional distress; that feeds physical pain and dysfunction. And so on….
The Rabbi Nachman suggests, “Using the insights and awareness of the mind to have compassion on the body”.
The Power of Compassion
Compassion is a deep principle. Compassion is when I see what’s wrong, and I choose to care and love anyhow. Compassion is a powerful opening of the heart to suffering, loss, and pain. Compassion means developing a degree of acceptance. It doesn’t mean I agree to suffer forever. It means I agree that indeed this is the reality right now and I make a powerful choice to transform it.
Have compassion on the suffering of the body. Activate the higher intelligence of your mind, and your heart to create a wave of compassion and relaxation on your body. That’s a powerful step in healing.
That’s how you empower your mindbody system to heal yourself. You choose it.
Do It Now. Over and Over Again.
You could start to do it right now.
Stop what you’re doing. Do this on your own or follow the instructions in the video.
Clear distractions for 5-10 minutes. Put your phone on ‘airplane mode’ and set a timer if you want.
Sit down and contact your breathing. Notice the feelings of inspiration and expiration. Don’t try to do anything except be aware of your own breathing.
Decide to let go of what you were doing before and what you will do later. Just let your mind float in and out of your body on the waves of your own breathing. Like gentle waves on the beach, on a warm sunny calm day.
Let yourself dwell in that space for 10 minutes. Your soul is speaking to the body with compassion. Your brain is generating biochemistry of healing. And your body receives it, and appreciates it.
That is an initial step.
Commit to the Process to See Results
There are many techniques for evoking a calm, present, happy, resourceful state of mind, and of sharing it with the body.
And there are other techniques for intentionally generating the emotional energy of compassion, forgiveness, and love. Those energies can transform the judgement, shame, frustration, anger, and other forms of pain that often accompany us, especially if our body is suffering.
It is an art to find what works for you and learn to apply it in your life.
“Apply it in your life” means to do it regularly. The mind is flexible and powerful. But it is gentle and soft, when compared to the body. Mindbody techniques can help you feel better right away. But long term lasting results come from substantially shifting your physiology.
Your body learned the habits of pain, fatigue, insomnia, distress. Your body can learn the habits of comfort, energy, good sleep, joy, purpose. But remember it means shifting something heavy (your biochemistry) with something light (your mind). But water dripping on a rock can dig a hole over time. Your body isn’t as hard as a rock. It “wants” your mind to heal it. But success comes from regular practice over time.
That’s what we do in the Inner Healing Mastery program. We teach the mind to access new insights and possibilities. We learn techniques to empower the transformational loving energy in our own hearts. And we bring the mind and body together so that the mind can have compassion on the body.
People who learn and practice these techniques often are able to reduce pain, anxiety, confusion, frustration. They often develop the capacity to generate positive thoughts and emotions, and bring those to their body pain, illness, an so on.
You can too.
If you want more information about the program please click below
If the program isn’t for you, don’t worry, there will be more free content. Some people want a systematic structured program that will help them develop self-healing skills and potency. And for some it’s not the right time for that. I’m here to support you either way, as best I can.
Next post in this series: many of my patients have a very hard time evoking the relaxation response. Their body is so uncomfortable, or their mind is so busy and tense, that when they try to meditate they get more tense. What to do then?
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Don’t Forget the Big Picture
Healing is multifaceted. When we align our mind/spirit/heart with our highest good and heal the negativity that we have absorbed from life and its challenges, we make a powerful step toward healing. For many people with fibromyalgia, fatigue, chronic pain, and chronic illness, there are other aspects to the process.
There are “Three M’s”, which are three windows into your physiology. They are “windows” because they are access points for understanding what’s going on, and access points for doing things that can help us heal. This series is talking about the “Mindbody” window. You can enter the Mindbody window and understand much, and you can do things with your Mindbody connection to heal yourself. In my experience, that is foundational, and often makes the other parts easier.
There is also a Metabolic window, which is all the biochemical processes, including nutrition, detoxification, energy production, hormones, etc. And there is a Mechanical/Movement window, which is the structure and functional aspects of your body. These are also powerful places to shift your physiology toward healing and will discussed in other posts.
Wishing you all the best.
Andrew David Shiller