Originally Posted in Our Community of Humanity at Inner Child Magazine
Chronic Pain, From An Alternative Medicine Perspective
Pain abounds in our community, but so too does joy and success and creative solutions.
The pain in a child's face, tears streaming after a fall on the grassy hill or the scratch of a tree branch.
The pain of loss with the death of an uncle.
The pain of sore muscles after a 100 mile bicycle ride.
The pain of a chronically injured shoulder stiff in the morning.
The pain of rejection of a friend shaming you in public.
What to do about all the pain?
Noticing someone else's pain, reaching out to them and doing what we can to alleviate the pain is a sign of brain health. It can be scary to see someone in pain. I might wonder if their pain is contagious. Will I have pain if I help them? Seeing someone in pain can also make me wonder about my own fragility and vulnerability to pain. But reaching out with caring and compassion strengthens the connections in my brain, improves my clarity and cognitive function.
Medical research also indicates that from a brain perspective and perceptual point of view there is very little difference between social emotional pain and physical pain. The children's taunt, "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me!" is simply not true.
So what can I do with my skills in complementary and alternative medicine to help my community find the creative solutions? What does Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupressure, CranioSacral Therapy, Matrix Energetics or Reiki have to say about pain and all the ways to alleviate it?
Color Yourself Comfortable
Traditional Chinese Medicine
shines the way
catching bits of colored light
striking eyeballs and skin
penetrating inward to the emotional body
shifting physical and emotional pain
Yellow the color of the stomach and spleen
fuels immune and detoxification
on the clock at work
exchanging nutrients for toxins
The color of bile
rises and soothes anger
green the nourishing light of a cool forest
Heart beat red
colors of blood flow
rich in iron
nutrients digested in the small intestine
A large white breath
drawing in the color of snow
assuaging the grief of loss
with oxygen on the path to muscles
breathe in plus a long breath out
find that sweet spot of comfort
Blue flows the water elements
the kidney deciding what will stay
and what goes forward and out
draining fear from life
leaving in its place joy and comfort
Acupressure Hands Healing Pain
Three points times two
improving pain conditions
soothing the autonomic nervous system
In the neck
GB 21, SI 14 and SI 15,
In the arms
LI 4, LI 10 and LI 11
she said it feels better
my neck moves easier
the muscles soft and supple
racing heart slowing
to a calm even beat
- Research from Matsubara, T., Y. C. Arai, et al. (2011). "Comparative effects of acupressure at local and distal acupuncture points on pain conditions and autonomic function in females with chronic neck pain." Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2011." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952311/pdf/ECAM2011-543291.pdf
Subatomic Light Visualization: Where Exactly is the Pain?
This exercise and visualization can be used for any part of the body. Here we focus on the neck and shoulders.
1. Take a couple of deep breaths and close your eyes. Rest the eyelids and turn vision and intuition inward.
2. Start to focus on the neck and shoulders. Make sure your hands and arms are in a relaxed position. Let your elbows and shoulders relax. Feel your head sitting comfortably on top of the neck with your spine aligned. Be loose and supportive.
3. Name the structures as you relax them. Relax your right shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers. Focus on the left shoulder. How does it feel different as you relax the muscles in both shoulders?
4. Feel the fabric of the clothing on your shoulders. Is it easier to notice the top of the shoulder or the upper arm where the fabric meets the skin? Feel the clothing or fabric or air as it meets your skin throughout your body.
5. Now focus on a deeper layer. Which side is more comfortable? Can you visualize and feel the muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, nerve fibers and all the tissues that make up your shoulders, neck and throat.
6. Move inward to a smaller layer - the cellular level. Notice the difference in the color of muscle cells and red blood cells. Feel the density and flexibility in the bone cells compared with the tendon cells.
7. Then go even deeper. Embrace life inside the cells, each cell as it listens.Notice the activity of the cell walls pulsing positive and negative. What are the tiny organelles within the cells doing. Here lie the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells and the genetic material. Feel the movement as the cells of the right shoulder breathes - taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. Is there a sense of comfort at this level?
8. Then deeper still into the realm of atoms. Notice the carbon atoms with electrons spinning around neutrons and protons. Feel the space at the atomic level with a stable core around which electrons circle, balanced in their orbits. Does the front of the neck feel different from the back of the neck at this level? Is there comfort at the atomic vibration?
9. Then telescope into the weird and wacky realm of quantum physics, quarks and bits where electrons pop in and out of existence, where nothing is real and everything is vital. Feel the flow in your shoulders as electrons pop in and out of existence, spinning free in space, where they have as much space as they want., where photons and bits of light shine out through the neck and shoulders with warmth, compassion and creativity.
10. Now look around this tiny universe inside your shoulder at the cells and tissues that make up the muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, nerve fibers and all the tissues that create the reality of your shoulders, neck and throat.
11. Notice again the feeling of the fabric of your clothing on your skin. Does the temperature feel different where there is a sweater or a shirt or bare skin touching the air?
12. Breathe in some of that air and expand your senses out into the room as you feel the air in the room. Is it still or moving? What do you hear around you? And finally when you are ready open your eyes and notice all the things that have changed in you and in your surroundings.
Visualizing yourself with an expanded sense of ease. Meditating on the ways to bring success and comfort to all those in your community of humanity as you reach out to yourself and others with compassion.
Kimberly Burnham, PhD (Integrative Medicine)
860-221-8510 phone and what's app. Skype: Kimberly Burnham (Spokane, Washington)
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