For almost a year I have been working back to running and other activities. I was diagnosed with a torn meniscus that was both painful and restricted my movements. It’s been a while since I could do the things I used to do, but I’ve been on my first (re)runs and, while my cardiovascular system is in shock from the renewed exertion, my knees and legs are doing just fine. So what does pain, recovery, healing have to do with the subconscious mind? A lot… and I’ve been finding out more and more through my own personal journey.
Helping Healing through the Mind
After I went to a couple doctors and started on physiotherapy to increase muscle strength surrounding my knee I suddenly thought “wait a second, you’re a hypnotherapist and you help others with this sort of thing.” (Sometimes the answer that is right in our face is the one we miss)
So I started working with hypnosis. I realized that tension in some of my muscles was tightening parts of my legs to disturb my natural stride, putting pressure on my knee, so I worked with the relaxation response to retrain those muscles in different ways.
Because the mind is where the action is and the body is where the reaction is, I created a ‘healing room’ for myself and gave directions to my body on how I thought I needed to shift my present situation. Need more blood flow to the area? Done. (Yes, directions seem to be simple when we go through the subconscious). Yet at times I also gave my body full-range to support itself – and instead of insisting on ‘my’ way of doing it, allowed the details of the healing to be set by my naturally powerful and self-healing body. Who am I to tell the different systems to work in a particular way when they were doing so quite nicely without my meddling? I just suggested that they work in the way that brings the body to its most healed and easy state.
And it worked – I noticed that I walked better and felt better when I was doing self hypnosis, and that my physiotherapy took leaps and bounds when I worked with myself from the inside out.
Is some of the Pain in Your Head?
I also remember the day that I decided that some of my problem was mind led. I realized that I was facing some challenges that were, figuratively and then literally, holding me back. I thought, if there’s a psychosomatic part of this, that would be great, because the mind is much easier to work for me.
So I presented this to myself. My body was trying to tell me something, and that the pain I was experiencing may be contributed to by pains in my life that were instead mental or emotional. I realized that, like some of my wonderful clients in the past discovered our natural default is body pain – because we usually know how much physical discomfort we can put up with, but trauma and emotional pain seems much more nebulous and fluid… because we can’t put our finger on it, we’ll put it somewhere where we can measure it.
Simply by acknowledging that there may be contributors that have nothing to do with the body, the protective subconscious mind realized that it couldn’t hide in my knee and legs any more. Almost instantly, the discomfort reduced. Just realize that if you understand that there’s something else you need to deal with, it’s now your responsibility to start doing something about it.
“Remember, the purpose of the pain is to divert attention from what’s going on emotionally and to keep you focused on the body.” Dr. John Sarno
Sometimes a pause is powerful (or going against a habit)
I’ve sometimes been likened to a pit bull who holds on and doesn’t let go, or, at my worst, a bull in a china shop. Most of the descriptors tend to be action oriented rather than inaction based – while I have moments of paralysis as well, many times my response to challenge is to ‘do’ something. This is a habit for me – I’ll push through a challenge in spite of the odds, which can be good at times. But at other times, not so helpful. Pushing through the pain was one of the reasons I injured my knee even more, so what I needed to focus on was the art of ‘not doing’ during my healing process. Instead of thinking that I had had enough time healing (the knee was going to be healed on X date, no matter what), I listened to my body instead and took a lead from the responses I got from that rather than allowing my head and expectations to rule.
For me, recovery was tough. Not going for a run was hard. But instead I swam and walked and slowed down – which revealed a new experience for me which was both unfamiliar and expansive. And now that I can ‘do’ things again, my new experiment will be to ‘not do’ at times to reap the balancing benefits of both.
Moving Forward with Confidence
Now that I’m back on the road to health, I realize that the lifelong journey of excellence is physical, mental and emotional. Owning up to our responsibility to look after ourselves actually can build up to give us a level of confidence on the path, which can carry us through the setbacks and the tough ‘breaks’. While there may be differences of opinion of where our first responsibility lies, there is no question that our mind and body are linked.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Buddha
“The main purpose of life is to live rightly, think rightly, act rightly. The soul must languish when we give all our thought to our body.” Mahatma Gandhi
“A house is not a home until it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.” Benjamin Franklin
And finally a quote by Henry David Thoreau that I think works for all aspects of mind and body, “Move confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”
Now, I’m going to take the direction of my dreams right now as I’m off for a run…