The Mind-Body Connection: Pain Control
A year ago I was experiencing some pretty severe pain from what appeared to be Levator Ani Syndrome.
In researching what to do for the pain, I came across a number of references to the book, The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain by Dr John Sarno. Apparently celebrities such as Howard Stern swear by Dr. Sarno’s approaches to natural, and very effective pain relief. Dr. Sarno is also the author of the best selling bookHealing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. If you have back pain, or severe abdominal pain like I did, which was accompanied by a literal pain in the butt, these approaches may be helpful to you, as they were for me.
I will say, just reading the reviews of people who had read his book and benefited from his approaches, was enough to persuade me to get his books and try his techniques, which are not at all difficult. Once I connected with the premise, I was able to apply a simple technique which was very effective in diminishing my pain – and I have been pain free ever since (its been a year now). There really is something to “the mind body connection”. But then again, that comes as absolutely no surprise to me.
Basically, what it boiled down to for me was this: the doctor suggests that much of the pain we experience in our bodies is actually a manifestation of unresolved mental and emotional pain. The theory goes that there are some things we experience in life that are just too difficult for our mind to deal with, so the mind creates a distraction technique by manifesting pain in the body to direct our attention away from unresolved mental and emotional issues.
It may sound wonky or woo-woo at first, but in reading many, many reviews by people who had been helped by the book, which I found utterly fascinating, I realized there was merit to it. I also have some other prior knowledge of the mind body connection, there is a sound, scientific basis for it, so this wasn’t entirely new for me to comprehend.
After reading the reviews, I was really eager to try to apply the overall concept and see if it would help my pain. So just based on the reviews, each time I would be hit by a spasm of pain, I simply told myself, “There is nothing wrong with me, its just stress. Its not really pain, its just stress. Relax, relax, relax….”. As I told myself this, I put in a conscious effort to relax my body, and let go of the tension. Its a funny thing, you never really realize how much tension you have in your body until you purposely try to relax your muscles. And then you’re like, “Wow, every thing’s really tightened up”.
The crazy thing is, it worked. Pain killers and muscle relaxants had provided no relief for months and months and months. And this crazy little self-talk exercise, in which I simply assured myself the pain was simply from the stress, and told myself to so simply release the stress and tension and stress from my body, let it go…. this is what got rid of pain so intense that it would literally knock me to the floor (completely freaking my husband out) on more than one occasion.
After this incredible success in overcoming this frightening pattern of pain just by reading the reviews on this book, I decided I had to order it. If the reviews along were this helpful, imagine what reading the entire book would do for me. And I am sure that many people would benefit by reading the entire book. But for me, the real value came from simply reading the reviews and getting the general essence of the book that way and then implementing it. Still, the author deserved to have my purchase, whether I derived any additional value from reading it or not. These are his concepts after all.
Below are some of the reviews I read which I found to be really inspiring, informative, and beneficial.
“…back pain, headaches, stomachaches and a myriad of other “life robbing”, yet not “life threatening”, conditions are caused exclusively by thoughts so unpleasant that our minds would rather perpetually distract us with an unlifting “fog” of pain than allow us to face them. So do I sound like a complete nutjob yet? If you’re as desperate to have your life back as I was, my apparent insanity won’t prevent you from reading this book, easily the most valuable piece of literature that I’ve ever consumed.
Once this tremendous work arrives at your door, Dr. Sarno will have handed you the ball. It is your daily effort (yeah, I didn’t have the time either, it was much more productive to feel like absolute garbage for 16 hours a day than to invest the necessary 30-45 minutes banishing my pain) that WILL allow you get your life back. In the six weeks that have passed since making the effort to bring Sarno’s techniques into my life, I have gone from expecting incessant pain (I even had myself conditioned to feel discomfort upon waking to use the bathroom in the middle of the night) to feeling good about 90% of the time. Ah yes, you knew this deal had to have some warts, what about that other 10% of the time? Why isn’t this “miracle cure” at work 24 hours a day? The answer is simple- I haven’t fully accepted (like you, I too was a skeptic) Dr. Sarno’s principles yet but I KNOW that each time I apply them to diffuse a headache that I am further building the self-confidence that will soon have me living my life, rather than thinking about pain, 100% of the time.”
“How could just realizing act that my tennis elbow was caused by repressed anger cure it? Sarno said its necessary for the concept to sink in to the subconcious for it to be effective, so I spent 30 minutes a day rereading the books and making a list of anything I could possibly be angry about.In about 6 days I had a marked improvement, and within a month I was totaly cured, and that was five months ago. Numerous other minor aches and pains have dissapeared as well.I think Dr. Sarno explains how he reaches his conclusions and the basic concept well. But there is no specific step by step program for the reader to convince his subconcious that repressed rage may be the cause. So I thougt it might be helpfull to a reader for me to say that I did not get instanous results like some people, it took a bit of time and effort for the basic concept to penetrate my subconscious. And I did that by simply reading the books over to cover; making a list of things I might be angry at; and then reading some from the two books each day.”
“On October 30, 1998, I wrote a review praising Dr. Sarno’s Mindbody Prescription – after only 3 weeks without pain. Well, I am happy to say that the pain did not come back, not to say there weren’t twinges occasionally. These were my warning that something was not right in my life, and I needed to deal with it now. The first thing I would do was to start breathing, and the twinge disappeared…I mean that’s all I had to do. But I still recognized my feelings and handled what I could and let go of the rest. Now I am dealing with a much larger challenge than leg pain…urinary tract cancer. Dr. Sarno does address this issue, and states that it has not been precisely determined what role psychological factors play regarding cancer. I am 99% sure that what Dr. Sarno suggests about cancer is right on. I’ve never smoked, drank diet sodas, or been exposed to hazardous materials, as questioned by my doctor. But I have had considerable emotional turmoil in my life. So NOW I am taking better care of myself both emotionally and physically to create a healthier mind and immune system. I firmly believe there is a mindbody connection, and I am re-reading and re-reading this book. I was diagnosed 1-1/2 years ago, and I am still around to write this review!”
“I know it’s ABSOLUTELY INSANE that a mere book can cure body pain, OCD and skin problems. The cure is also INSANELY simple: all these problems are caused by the genius of our own brains. Unconciously, we simply cannot bear to feel our repressed rage, fear, grief, sorrow, resentment and other emotions according to Sarno. So our brains, unbeknownst to us, invent various problems in our bodies, such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, tinnitus, chest pain (the doc said it wasn’t my heart) OCD (yes, OCD!) and more to divert our attention from these unacceptable emotions. Our unconcious just can’t handle them.”