Healing and Living with Chronic Pain and Stress

On my team of healers who helped me through diagnosis, treatment and recovery from cancer was my primary care physician, Dr. Bruce Eisendorf. I felt fortunate to be in his care for for his skillfulness as an M.D., his devotion to mindfulness as a healing discipline, and his openness and interest in alternative healing modalities. In fact, Dr. Eisendorf and some of his colleagues developed a series of classes available to our local community presenting information and resources from mainstream as well as alternative practices for healing and living with chronic pain. I participated in these classes and found them to be very helpful.

The Healing Pain classes were attended by a number of participants. I was deeply touched by hearing the other participants tell about their struggles and I was reminded of the vulnerability and mortality of our bodies. As human beings, each one of us faces similar struggles throughout the course of our lives, particularly as we age. I greatly appreciated the presenters’ efforts to help each of the participants as well as the courage and dedication that is required of these healers’ vocation.

Here is the list of classes in which I participated:

1. Stress And Pain: How To Change Our Reactions presented by Dr. Bruce Eisendorf (Family Medicine)
2. Healing – MindBody Medicine – Guided Imagery presented by Dr. James Telfer (Internal Medicine)
3. Neurological Pathways of Pain presented by Dr. Grant de la Motte (Neurology)
4. Improving Sleep and Healing Pain presented by Dr. Aditya Bhargava (Internal Medicine)
5. Non-Opioid Medications and Treating Chronic Pain presented by Dr. Matthew Reimert (Rheumatology)
6. Exercise and Chronic Pain – presented by Dr. Tim Allari (Internal Medicine)
7. Strategies for Reprogramming and Healing with Chronic Pain: Writing, Journaling and Mindfulness
presented by Dr. Bruce Eisendorf (Family Medicine)

The “take-away” from participating in this series was the clear theme which threaded through each of the 7 classes: You must take an active role in healing and learning to live with chronic pain, rather than just relying on the hope that someone else will solve your problem. Surgery, medication and/or treatment may or may not solve the issue.

One key point kept surfacing for me throughout the 7 classes: get a hold of your mind if you want to live a better life! In discussing this point with Dr. Eisendorf, he noted that we spend so much time trying to control our lives and our minds, and sometimes all that “effort” becomes counter productive. He suggested reframing the idea of “getting a hold of our mind” towards “observing closely the activity and reactivity of the mind, in order to experience greater peace and happiness”. I think this may indeed be a more helpful way to think about how we really practice taking care of ourselves.

Here is a list, culled from the classes, of suggested strategies and activities which have been extensively studied and shown to reduce stress, chronic pain, and stimulate healing and a sense of well-being:

1. 8 hours of sleep, drinking generous amounts of clean water, eating fresh food (omit the processed food)
2. Mindfulness and meditation practices
3. Daily exercises incorporating aerobic, weight, and full range of motion training
4. Yoga, Tai Chi and other forms of whole body disciplines that integrate breath, body and awareness
5. Spending time in nature (forests, beaches, etc.)
6. Writing and Journaling
7. Hypnotherapy (last but not least!)

Following the advice of these “tried and true methods” on this list requires a transformation in lifestyle for most of us. Beginning a new practice of living can be difficult, and continuing with that practice can be even more challenging. But “practice makes perfect” because practice and repetition create habits, and it’s these patterns of habit which greatly affect the way we feel on a day to day basis. It does take discipline to make the kind of change in our lives that most of us need in order to feel better.

Understand the word “discipline” in the same light as “disciple”. It means: what we do to study, learn and master the skills it takes to do something extremely well. The root meaning of both words translate as “to take hold of”, and that’s where we get the interpretation of “disciple” as “student” and “discipline” as “study”. With our discipline with these practices we “take hold of” new information and skills. In this way we have more ability to steward our health and healing.

Many of the participants in these classes, because of the pain that they were experiencing on a daily basis, were much more limited than I in their range of body movement to the point of making their participation in the more physical practices very challenging. For some, even just making it to the class was difficult. But what we heard from our instructors, as well as from some of the other participants, was that there are ways to tailor these practices so that they work for you.

This vision of passionate learning about who you are and how to best take care of yourself forms a big part of the foundation of the work I do with my clients. It is an essential part of transformational healing, and it is an expression of deep respect for the life that you have. This vision carries you through the challenges of transforming your habits of living. Let your pain and stress motivate you in your practice, rather than discourage you. Be grateful, if at all possible, for the ways in which your struggles wake you up to the need to go deeper, consciously seeking a better way to be more present and engaged in your body. Your vision, your deepest longings for health, happiness and well-being is your greatest ally. The sooner you understand how to honor, respect and take care of this deeper vision, the more this vision can take care of you.

If you are living with chronic pain or stress, and have not yet found a way to make your life feel better, consider scheduling an appointment with me to learn how to practice the strategies mentioned in this article. I will help you to learn from the obstacles and struggles, and to develop the discipline to enable your transformational healing process.

If you’re ready to schedule an appointment with me, click this button to be directed to my online schedule:

Please contact me at the email address at the bottom of this page with questions you may have and let me know if this was helpful to you. You can find the detailed information from the classes on the Articles page under “Helpful Information From Other Sources”.

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