There are three levels to the treatment: Body/Physical, Mind/Mental, and Spirit/Spiritual.
First I would like to say that there are times and places when the pathways I offer can stand alone in exclusion of the standard medical model treatments. In other situations, these pathways are appropriately embarked upon alongside standard medical treatments. There is no right or wrong way. Each person is an individual and I will endeavor to work with each individual to formulate an individualized plan that best suits their particular needs.
Especially for the pain sufferer, and also for any ill person, movement is important. It need not be strenuous. The body works better the more it moves. Increases in activity are best in small increments. If a person walks 6 steps and then each day adds 6 additional steps, in 1 year they will be walking a mile. This is very doable for all but the most severely ill.
Those with chronic pain often develop a fear of movement. This fear causes the person to develop conditioned behaviors limiting activity and creating progressive weakness in the body. As a person comes to expect/fear pain in certain situations, that expectation can result in pain and heightened fear of movement. This conditioning must be gradually reversed for progress to occur. Conditioning is reversed by providing correct information about a person's physical capacity, which allows for gradual reversal of conditioned behaviors through various activities appropriately suited to individual needs.
It has become increasing clear to me over the years how important proper nutrition is for healing. I have discussed the role that stress plays in illness. Eating improper foods is a stress on the body. Obviously, since stress plays a role in illness, food stress (improper foods) makes illness worse. There is much information available on proper diet. I believe that a person's proper diet will be found in an individualized plan drawing from all the available information. There are some principles that are universal, such as eliminating highly processed foods, especially sugar and processed grains. Beyond that I believe an individualized program is needed. I have for some time now been using an intuitive food consultant and it has been helpful and eye opening (Resources
As discussed earlier, distress (dysfunctional stress) plays a pivotal role in the development and maintenance of disease. The stress response actually turns off the body's ability to heal as healing is not needed in the acute stress situation. Of course, in TMS, stress is the entire issues so healing must encompass some method for reducing/relieving stress. There are many effective techniques, the most effective being meditation (Meditation
). I particularly like meditation as it does not require outside intervention, making it portable – it goes where you go. Other techniques include psychotherapy especially psychoanalysis, biofeedback, relaxation training, hypnosis, especially self-hypnosis, to name a few. My goal is to find the best approach for each individual.
One great resource in reduction of stress is called the presence process. This process is detailed in the book called, The Presence Process by Michael Brown, revised edition. The book details a process for integrating (digesting) repressed emotions to progressively unburden the mind allowing for less disease causing distress. The process incorporates a meditation practice called consciously connected breathing with an educational framework around it – meditation in a wonderful package. I have seen the process benefit many including myself over the years. I regard it as a form of self-psychoanalysis. Dr. Sarno has reviewed this material and called it the best description of the process underlying TMS that he has seen. Michael Brown's recommendations for undoing that process are very valuable to the TMS sufferer and all who suffer.
We live in a world of disconnection. We are disconnected (to varying degrees) from ourselves, others, and God. Even when we have some connection in these areas, they are suboptimal. It seems men are more disconnected than woman. Think how it might have been in the tribes our ancestors lived in, versus modern life, where we are all on our own to varying degrees. We are highly mobile, so we have lost our sense of belonging. This is an expected outcome of our ultra-competitive culture. Even in our electronically connected world, which seems to be more connected than ever, real human interaction is lacking, resulting in increased loneliness (Resources
It has been said that most men live lives of quiet desperation. I believe this is truer now than ever. One reason for this desperation is the disconnection of our lives. The mistaken belief that we are on our own causes great stress and is reversed by connecting with our fellow men and women. This can be done in many ways, and again, the exact process for each person is appropriately individualized, with a unique pathway embarked upon for each person. My role is to assist the individual in finding their pathway.
For men, one strong avenue of connection is through The Mankind Project (Resources
). I have personally benefited from this organization's programs, as have many men I know. There is a sister organization for women called Women Within (Resources
). There are many other ways for men and women to get connected. It is not important how connection occurs, just that it does.
I have come to understand that spirituality can be part of the answer for someone who suffers from the manifestations – physical and emotional – of distress/disease. Spirituality may include what is commonly seen as religious practice, although it is not exactly the same. Aldous Huxley tells us in The Perennial Philosophy that mankind across this planet has always shared 2 beliefs:
There is something more to life than meets the eye and...
- We are connected to that thing.
For me, this is spirituality – knowing there is more to life than meets eye and that we are connected to it and then trying to improve the connection. This can be done in many ways. Connecting with nature, meditation, or your unique way. I believe that this practice of enhancing the connection to the divine, or God, or whatever your preferred name is, will very much be an individual process with varying degrees of overlap with the process of others. Again the names and words are not important. The intention to connect is the key. “Seek and ye shall find, knock and it will be opened to you.”
From the earliest times, man had to create to have his basic needs met. And that creation left a record of man's endeavors. Storytelling, precursor to modern books, also recorded man's history. Later still, stories were told in song, possibly around a fire or etched onto cave walls. And man's creativity blossomed into art. In the modern world art seems to be deemed a job for a few called artists, while others watch from the sidelines. So in contrast to ancient times where the tribe made art together, especially in the process of song and dance, today many are disconnected from artistic expression.
Part of the process of healing can include reconnection to art/creativity. There are many ways that can occur. Art can be expressed/created by an individual or received/viewed by an individual or both. We are all artists and it has been said that there is nothing sadder than for a person to end their life's journey with unexpressed art inside them. My encouragement then is to connect as much as possible to the beauty of art and creativity which is all around you. My hope is that you will dare to express the art that is inside you. Sing! Dance! Play! Express! On the inspiration pages I will be expressing my art through the written word in poetry and prose and acquaint you with the expression of others through various art forms. In the resources section I will have links to the creative beauty that is around us in this world.