Unlocking the Mystery of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain
Part 2 of 3
Perception Is the Key
by Stuart Taws
These are some excerpts from the above article
The Great Medical Crisis of the Twentieth Century
Health care in North America is witnessing a profound crisis. Ask the average citizen about their health care system and you will receive a litany of complaints concerning the lack of sympathy, inaccessibility of service, and even malpractice. It has been dubbed by one author as the "Vietnamization of health care with the parallels of incredible amounts of money being spent, along with deployment of legions of personnel, yet resulting in massive loss of life and injury. Indelible scars are left in the minds of the survivors." In answering this problem presented by physicist Fritjof Capra in his forward to Time, Space and Medicine by Larry Dosser, he stated, "we need a new vision, a profound change in thought and perception." What is this new vision that these scientists and other clinical researchers have given us? How can we use this new vision as massage therapists in helping fibromyalgia, thoracic outlet syndrome and other chronic pain? First, we will look at the old world "vision."
In the last twenty years, the health of the population has not improved significantly. What is wrong? The very framework of the system is at the heart of the failure.
The medical view of today is firmly rooted in the centuries-old thinking of Rene Descartes and Isaac Newton. Three hundred years ago, Descartes postulated that all functions from digestion to passion "occur naturally in this machine as the movements of a clock." Isaac Newton "discovered" gravity and took this mechanistic science to a higher degree. The Newtonian concept of the three-dimensional universe and the individual was that of a well-made clock, in perfect mechanical condition. Death and disease were an unfortunate medical failure. This "vision" is still perpetuated today in biomedical science. The Cartesian view of living organisms as machines, constructed from separate parts, still dominates the research of pharmacology. Billions of dollars are spent searching for "magic bullets." This expression was coined in 1909 by Paul Urlich, who discovered an arsenic compound as a cure for syphilis. This thinking goes back nearly two thousand years to a reductionist fool by the name of Galen, a so-called health provider in second century Greece. He established the view that for every single problem there was one single answer. Pharmaceutical companies are still obsessed with the same reductionist quest ...
When you step into your doctor's office, it's as though you are taking your car into a transmission shop and describing to a mechanic a whirring noise and a slipping sensation. The mechanic knows that if he takes your transmission apart, looks at it, replaces a faulty part, and puts it back together, everything will be fine. You'll be running smoothly again. Doctors examine you as though you were some bio-chemical mechanical clock that has suddenly started to keep erratic time. If he peers into your cogs and wheels, snips at the gears, and tightens the spring, then you'll be fine and up and running on time.
In psychoanalytical terms they call this over-determination. It presumes that by an intense examination of all your parts, viewing your molecules, changing receptor sites, chemically changes how they mechanically act, then that knowledge is the secret to life and health. It is not.
As massage therapists we can fall into the same trap. The most thorough study of anatomy .
The physician's point of view is well illustrated in a famous Sufi study of Mulla Nasrudin, an enlightened fabled teacher. While on his hands and knees, peering on the street for a lost key, he was approached by a friend. "You lost the key here, Mulla?" his friend inquired. "No," said Nasrudin, "I lost it in my house." "Then why are you looking here?" asked the friend. "Because," said Nasrudin, "the light is better here."
Why do "difficult" patients with metastatic breast cancer live longer than their passive peers? Why does job satisfaction and overall happiness rate as a major factor in the prevention of coronary heart disease? Why do psychological coping styles in the face of a heart attack influence survival in the coronary care unit? Emotions and feelings, joy and sorrow, elation and depression, grief and fear, anxiety and frustration, happiness and helplessness, hope and satisfaction ... all affect the course of disease.
In an experiment at Ohio State University, two groups of rabbits were given diets high in fat and cholesterol to give them atherosclerotic vascular disease. One group of rabbits was taken out of their cages several times a day, petted and talked to, by the same person. This group demonstrated a 60% lower incidence of atherosclerosis. Although this was first discovered because of a caring lab rabbits, but what about humans? In an Israeli study by Medalie and Goldbutt, 10,000 males over forty were studied. The results: "Perhaps most surprising of all was the finding that, among men with severe anxiety, those who perceived their wives to be loving and supportive had half the rate of angina of those who felt unloved and unsupported." From petted rabbits to loved husbands, disease was halved.
In a United Kingdom study by Brown, et al., investigating the incidence of psychiatric disorders they found: "The most potent protective factor against psychiatric illness was the presence or absence of an intimate and confiding relationship ... that is, one in which feelings could be shared, whether or not sexual intimacy occurred." Human events such as touching and confiding exert profound consequences on health. We affect the health of those about us.
How do you get happiness into the cells?
Albert Einstein was able to elaborate on Newton's clockwork view of the universe and demonstrated relatively between mass and energy, space and time. Before Einstein's death, the basis of the hard science of Descartes and Newton was shattered. Magellan-like voyages such as Max Planck's in the 1930s discovered a new world of sub-atomic particles and have returned with news of strange new lands called Quantum Physics, Quantum Mechanics, and Quantum Electro-Magnetism. These reveal the vision of a new world of understanding, about the very organic "stuff" that is the make up of you--and your client in pain. In the sub-atomic world there are tiny bundles of energy, so small and without material form. Each particle of energy influences every other particle of energy in an improbable and ever-changing pattern. One particle cannot exist without influencing another particle. This was described by physicist Fritof Capra in 1981 as a continuous dance of energy.
This is not the clockwork world of Newton and Einstein, a world of order and symmetry that made up "reality" as we have come to know it. The view of the new world is that we are all inter-connected. Your influence in the universe does not end at your skin. The new science reveals that we are all in a universal biodance of energy. Einstein was very upset by this concept of improbability of influence stating, "God does not play dice!" He died unable to prove this. Bell's theorem, which was confirmed in the 1970s, proved that a tiny particle of energy that was being observed was influenced by the observer. Therefore the only true reality in the universe was the consciousness of the observer. Sailing away from the shores of Patagonia into the new world there is one truth, conscious reality is everything, it is the only reality.
Before you get bored by this and start flipping pages, let's cut to the quick. The language of the Quantum Physicist is the exact language of the Ancient Healers. We are at one with the Universe at a sub-atomic level. Consciousness is the only reality. To "bottom-line" this even further, from our point of view as massage therapists, perception and the space-time continuum are at the very core of healing. So please bear with me. If you do not understand these basic concepts, you will be as effective as the current medical world in dealing with the pain of "everyman". In the sub-atomic world.
Let's take just one aspect of the new science and apply it to healing. In Quantum Physics there is no concept of linear time, of a past, present and future, flowing like a river. There is a non-linear view of time where past, present and future merge into a timeless stillness. Personally, I still can't grasp the concept, but I believe it to be true. In the same way I haven't a clue how the remote control on my television works, but I believe the technology to be true. I'm "computer free", but I know that many of you are experts in its use--but may have no idea of the technology. So not knowing how or why something works and is "true" does not prevent us using it.
Watching my little nephew in front of the television, he was transfixed, in a trance. Babies have no sense of time. This dear child of innocence was living in an "eternal present." Time changes with age. At two years old the concept of today appears. At two and a half, tomorrow. At three years old, yesterday. At four years old, morning and afternoon. At five years old, the word day appears. With youth there is timelessness and an eternal present. Have you ever been "lost in time"? Have you ever been having such a great time that "time has flown," or you've been so lost in time that suddenly you say, "Is that the time?" The actual duration of time has been diminished. With youth and happiness there is a sense of timelessness. Conversely, have you been doing a job that you actually despise, or been with someone or in a place that you loathe with every fiber of your being? Time drags. Time slows. The very sense of time becomes painfully acute. You shake your watch. You can't believe so little time has gone by. The sense of time is constricting, it's closing in on you. Check your watch. Time is dragging, slowing down. A few minutes seem like an hour.
Youthful happiness and health are in a timelessness, an eternal present. Anyone familiar with "going under" during anesthesia experiences a wonderful floating sensation. Deepak Chopra, in a conversation in San Francisco, describes that in the state of happiness the body produces a chemical that is exactly the same as Valium, exactly the same! Happiness, then, in the human experience, is tranquility.
Pain, on the other hand, is experienced in a constricted sense of time. Every second in time is an age of torment, each moment of lingering pain has a heightened sense of exquisite torture. Remember that even time is a perception. If we can expand time, pain is experienced less. If we constrict time, pain is heightened.
If the heat of a tiny flame was diffused for a moment over the entire surface of your body, you might hardly notice it. But if that same flame was concentrated on the soft flesh of your wrist, it may well cause a nasty third-degree burn in that little area. The same is true with space-time and pain. If we expand our perception of time..............
How do we constrict time? Take the typical fibromyalgia "victim"--a female, in her late thirties perhaps, a single mother, or possibly married with two children, holding down a tedious job. The marriage relationship may be less than once dreamed of. A perfectionist in an imperfect world, saddened by life. From the moment of waking in the dark to get the kids ready for school, still exhausted.
If we compress time, then we unleash the body's coping methods and experience pain in a heightened form. This is not a mystery. The pain of fibromyalgia is the result of a very good response system working a little too well. We'll elaborate on this in a moment, but first, let's consider how to start to get out of this pain. If we experience pain more when we "compress" time, then we'll do the opposite. We will expand time, the way we used to when we were children, in a trance watching a cartoon on television. Let's learn how to expand our view of time and go into the "eternal present."
How can we do that? The results of a report in the Journal of American Medicine in August of 1996 proved that "meditation techniques significantly reduced chronic pain and insomnia." This is nothing new. M. Cooper and M. Aygen, as far back as 1978, demonstrated that if subjects are taught to meditate, their blood cholesterol level immediately falls by twenty percent. Blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate, the blood levels of insulin, hydrocortisone, adrenaline and norepinephrine also drop by twenty percent. That is faster than any drug therapy. If then you are able to elongate time with the visualization and imagery of biofeedback, progressive relaxation, or meditation techniques, your body chemistry physically changes. You dissipate how you feel pain. Techniques that diminish pain by expanding your sense of time are not just "fooling yourself." Evidence is solid that there is a change in brain physiology during these mental states. Double blind tests using noloxone, an endorphin-blocker, have proved that endorphins are released during these relaxation techniques. The body's own pain killers are more powerful than morphine. That's why this constant reliance on taking pain pills, flooding the system with opiates, results in reducing the brain's own natural ability to deal with pain by secreting endorphins and entorphins.
Pain is a friend--a wonderful warning system that just may be working too well. Pain is not the enemy. The inability to deal with it is the enemy. There are limits.
Using biofeedback, there was a study of chronic headache suffers by B. Brown, et al., New York. They were asked to keep a daily diary before biofeedback began to judge the effectiveness of biofeedback on the severity and frequency of the headaches. Amazingly, most found that when they began to keep the diary, their headaches disappeared! Keeping the diary helped them to see their headaches in the context of their everyday lives--their behavior, diet, sleep, exercise and all their other relationships. The headaches were seen, not as something mysterious attacking them from without, but simply as a part of the process of living. This shift of attention, this change in consciousness, reduced the pain. Similarly, the same group of researchers took a group of epileptic children .
What if your client is reluctant to do biofeedback, relaxation, or meditation techniques? Can we access their consciousness .
Earlier we stated Dr. Clair Weekes' findings that "illness" was a result of sensitization, bewilderment, and fear. Her patients were only those who had suffered "nervous breakdowns" because of their perceived illness. To change the perception, we need to immediately address bewilderment and fear. The reason that this is difficult is that we are in a state of bewilderment and fear. We actually believe there is something dreadfully wrong. Our schools pass on the medical.
Let me give you an example of two days ago. In Phoenix for a small workshop, the sponsor Marguerita, a lovely lady with a happy disposition, looked very concerned as she asked me to work on her husband, Bob. He had been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, taking all the drugs, still in great pain. Now they were deep into the depressing cycles of MRIs and the "tut-tuting" sounds that come out of serious medical practitioners as they look at something unusual between C6 and C7. What does it all mean? Bewilderment and fear rule the day. I playfully chided Marguerita, as she has been trained in this way of work for two years. She knew what to do, but listen to this! The doctor had told Bob that his condition was so serious that he shouldn't do anything--not even get in the jacuzzi, as this would exacerbate the problem. He was even afraid for his own wife to work on him.
These are stressful times. Gone is the ideal "Ozzie and Harriet" life of the fifties. Due to the changes in modern family life (or lack of it), the demands of the workplace, the unnatural forces that compress the lives and minds of the most sensitive, it is no wonder we are falling apart at the seams. Here's the good news, .............................. That gets their attention really fast. Physically change the muscle length so fast, jump start the lymph system in the area quickly, and the message goes back to central programming of consciousness that "Pain and Protection at any Cost" are no longer needed because their job is accomplished. It works, nine times out of ten.
In the last article, an extremely simple pressure and stretch technique called Soft Tissue Release was described as one of these fast ways to physically change conscious reality. These techniques
To unlock the mystery of chronic pain conditions, the key is perception--your perception at first. The key is in the house of the human spirit. When that education is passed on to your client in pain, you access the "doctor within." This will be the exciting information in the next article.