Anxiety, Emotions and Opening To Them

The guidance in this posting was prepared and provided to me by my Craniosacral Therapist (CST, LMT).  She has given me permission to include it in this blog either in verbatim or paraphrased.  (FYI – I first posted about my initial experience with CST here.)

My CST has been treating me for many physical issues over the last couple of years including chronic pain in several areas of my body, and recovery from multiple surgeries.  Weekly craniosacral and massage therapy sessions from her, regular pain psychology sessions from a licensed psychologist, and periodic acupuncture treatments from a licensed acupuncturist, have provided me with the majority of improvements and answers concerning my recent health issues.

Since the body and the mind are connected, professionals and exercises in both areas are essential for my healing.  My CST said it is important to note that she is not a psychologist, and that her work includes how the mind and psyche (such as anxiety, emotions, thoughts, feelings) enter and affect the body physically.  Her expertise and treatments have been very helpful for me.  The information here is based on her personal experiences and materials she has come across over the years in bodywork trainings, meditation trainings, and teachings she has heard.  I thank her for allowing me to include her experiences here.  (This image below is a doodle I did to introduce her information.)

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When you feel a strong emotion arise:

1)  Focus on your breath.  Connect with the physical sensations of breathing in your body.  Do you feel your chest rise and fall, do you feel the breath rush past places in your sinuses or down the back of your throat?  Any place you can feel the breath enter and leave, focus there.  Your breath is your anchor to the present moment.  It’s impossible to breath in the past or future where your mind and/or body often want to go in their remembering or anticipating.  To invite yourself fully into the present moment, focus on your breath.  Note how your breath feels and what you notice.  After noting awareness, invite your breath to gradually become slower, deeper, more relaxed and more regular.  I often repeat those four parts to myself when I feel increased anxiety…slower, deeper, more relaxed and more regular. Give yourself several minutes of this practice to slow down.  Dr. Andrew Weil teaches this practice as a way to turn off fight or flight response in the body.  You may be able to find more information on his website or look for his Breathing: Master Key to Self Healing series.

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Addressing Physical Pain

The best way out is always through. ~ Robert Frost
If you are going through hell, keep going. ~ Winston Churchill

If you are a chronic pain sufferer, you probably have days that are more of a struggle than others.  Some even seem impossible to get through, but fortunately, those days are getting fewer and fewer for me.

There are many ways to address physical pain, chronic or not, but with helpful guidance from my healers, here are techniques and exercises I have learned.  The exercises are much easier said than done, but practice helps.

  • Meditation – This includes “mindfulness meditation.”  Meditation helps with relaxing which can help decrease pain.
  • Have someone to confide in 100%  – Talking it out or leaning on a compassionate shoulder can be very helpful.  To be effective, that person needs to give you their full attention and genuinely want to listen.
    We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection”. ~ Dalai Lama
  • Body awareness – As explained to me, “sometimes the way out of pain is to go right through it.”
  • Be in the “moment” –  Give yourself a break and be in the present.  For that time, don’t think about what might happen in the future, or think “what if this never goes away”.  Don’t think about how difficult the road to the present has been.
  • Gather Moments – Rewind through the activities of a a particularly bad day to find the good things that happened.  Write it down and  soon you will have a “bouquet of moments” to recall for other challenging days.
  • Celebrate the small successes – It’s important to recognize and reward progress.
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Alternative Treatment Results – Digestion

In this post, I thought I would include some of my experiences and results with alternative treatments specifically with the digestive issues that baffled many of my doctors.  I have a better understanding now of what may have been happening.  The problem:  Intense stomach pain, nausea, difficulty keeping food down for nearly eight months and significant weight loss.

Acupuncture

My acupuncturist said my digestive system had become imbalanced and that we needed to improve my body’s ability to absorb nutrients.  Her recommendation was acupuncture to help the body correct digestive imbalances and manage pain.  She also recommended adding easily digestible foods to my meals, three times a day, for about six months, and gave me a recipe for “congee.”  Congee is an Asian rice porridge, which can include other ingredients to improve flavor and increase nutrients.  Because congee is easy on the stomach, eating it daily can help the body learn how to digest food properly again.  Better digestion improves nutrient absorption, which improves the body’s healing ability.  In just over a month with weekly acupuncture sessions, I had a noticeable decrease in stomach pain.

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) and Massage Therapy

My posting on CST described the cranial rhythm as the flow of spinal fluid through the spine and is separate from the pulse or rhythm of the heartbeat.  An abnormality (change in the rhythm) can cause problems in the body.  My therapist described the normal human cranial rhythm as being similar to the smooth swimming motion of a dolphin, and cycles about six to twelve times a minute. More

Beginning a New Phase: CranioSacral Therapy!

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. ~ Buddha

Well, now I’m on a roll!  I am receiving a different type of therapy, craniosacral therapy (CST), which has now become a main treatment for me.  I have been getting even more answers about my mysterious symptoms, and experiencing positive results.  I continue with regular acupuncture and pain psychology sessions because the combination of treatments is vital to my healing.

I have my acupuncturist to thank for introducing me to CST.  Have you ever heard of it before?  I hadn’t.  She gave me a basic explanation of what it is, recommended a therapist with impressive credentials and experience, and suggested it as a therapy for some of my main ailments, such as chronic neck/shoulder pain, chronic headaches and balance.  Also, both she and my pain psychologist had experienced positive results from the therapy, which helped my decision to try it.  CST sounded…well…strange to me at first, but it is non-invasive, so again I had nothing to lose by trying it.  She was right!  After many sessions and learnings, CST makes a lot of sense to me now, and has also helped in other areas. More

I’d like to take a poll

I’m interested to know what your general experiences have been.  Have any of your doctors ever mentioned alternative treatments to you?  I do realize that presenting alternative treatments, or any treatment option, has to be sensible for you, and that it may not even apply to your condition.

Answers may be significantly different depending on what country you live in.  The definition of alternative medicine may even be different, but for the purposes of this poll, we’ll divide alternative medicine into three general categories, as used by Dr. Oz (see video in my earlier posting):

  • Things you put in your mouth – herbs, supplements, foods
  • Manual body manipulation like acupuncture, massage therapy, etc.
  • Mind/Body connection – meditation, breathing exercises, etc.