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My Pain Alleviation Technique-Memoir Excerpt

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

Chronic pain is unfortunately my constant companion. For waking to sleeping there is some part of my body that is in pain from past traumas. The pain ranges from joint pain to overall bodily inflammation. This has led me to be really creative about its (the pain) management and the permanent remedy search is still in progress. In the meantime, there are things I actively do that provide some relief. What I do depends on the type of pain I’m feeling at in given time. For instance when feeling insidious fatigue laying down and taking a respite or nap is the only thing I can do. Other times, standing up and stretching is what is required. What you are about to read below is an excerpt from my book on something I may try or do to bring relief from pain and stress.

From Oddball: A Memoir on Resilience

My life, like others, requires physical actions to take care of myself. It is so difficult when you are in so much pain. It was extremely depressing trying all the traditional suggestions for treating pain, stress, and anxiety and not seeing or feeling results. From physical therapy to spinal taps, the pain was winning, having a party with my life. I have a choice, every moment, give up or keep trying. This includes food, resting, hygiene, grooming, taking care of household needs, my animal companion, social relationships, and going out for some medical and day to day necessities. My specific regimen at the moment is wide, complex, and experimental, but so far a bit more successful than what is suggested by traditional medicine and culture at the moment.

The pain is still there and varies from day to day. I have found some tools and techniques that get me through each day with the hope that permanent relief is imminent. What can work for you has to do with what you are naturally attracted to for pleasure and beauty to counteract the pain and distress. For instance, if you are primarily a sound person, then using sound as medicine/music therapy to feel better. If you are a scent-oriented person than something like aromatherapy or other pleasing smells (delicious food cooking anyone?) then that may be a primary source of pleasure.

In general, you want to either use something to calm your system (body mind spirit environment) when under stress, chronic or acute while using something else to stimulate your system to elicit pleasure, relaxation, feel-good hormones, etc. There is a huge difference with what I just described and doing activities that numb or distract you. This really does more harm than good and ought to be avoided. Unfortunately, most people opt to do this because it seems easier, but trust me, it just prolongs the pain and discomfort of pain and stress. Soothing or exciting the senses for healing, using beauty and things that enhance pleasure is the sweet spot.

For instance, when using sight (should you be fortunate enough to have this sense), be aware of how much lighting there is has a great effect on you. Natural light is always best, sunlight is wonderful especially if you want to stimulate yourself. If the night and location allow, you can also have wonderful moonlight in your space. You can use a lamp that has particular meaning to you: night lights, track lights, candlelight or no light if you want the peace of darkness.

The less light, the more “yin,” receptive or feminine your environment will be according to Feng Shui. The more light the more “yang,” active or masculine the energy will be. In addition to lighting, you might have photographs, paintings, posters, signs, or other art. You can also use plants and flowers, which stimulate sight, smell, and touch. Some are even edible. With all these lists the person can add and remove whatever works for them at any given moment. I know someone whose sacred space included a life-size statue! Hey, it worked for them and that’s what counts.

One of the problems I had and the reason I did self-care in my home environment is that I am very sensitive to sound because of my PTSD and anxiety. I had gone through so much and was extremely jumpy. As part of my sacred space, I added ambient sound and purpose-specific sounds. I use strategies and a purifier that added the white noise I needed to block out noisy traffic outside my first-floor window and my upstairs neighbor’s incessant walking back and forth with heels. There are sounds we can use to block and balance noise[1].

Space cleansing and clearing is a way of moving the stagnant energy or “chi”, or uplifting a negative atmosphere. While I use bells, some people also use gongs. Gongs and bells come in different shapes and sizes which allow for different vibrations and frequency of sound. There is more on this in the bonus Chapter 11. There are also white sound machines that specifically block out unwanted noise. Therapists’ offices use white noise makers often to increase privacy. I used my purifier for multiple purposes. A person can also add chimes, drumming, or guided meditation audio. One of my favorite aspects of creating a sacred space is the ability to use one's creativity in the process. You use what you find either relaxing or stimulating, depending on what your goal is.

Next, we have scent. I am sure I don’t have to tell you how important scent has been to humans and non-human animals for survival. Although we are no longer in that acute survival mode, it is still a crucial way of determining an incredible amount of information about the space around us. This ranges from danger to a peaceful ambiance. There are countless options including but not limited to the intensity of a scent for those who have sensitivities or allergies to certain smells. You can use oils, incense, air freshener, scented candles, diffusers or something more subtle like herbs and flowers.

As for the sense of taste, you again have many options. Some traditions place food in their sacred space for a while to bless it. Then they consume it later. I think this is a beautiful tradition that I like to use as often as I can. You can use fruit, drink tea, hot cocoa, coffee, and, my favorite, chocolate. This isn’t written in stone but as a guide. Try to consume nourishment that is cruelty-free while in your sacred space, and if you do consume meat this is a great way to show gratitude and reverence for the sustenance it is providing you.

We then have our sense of touch or kinetic stimulation or withdrawal. For example, it would often be chilly in my apartment so I had a special fleece blanket I would use while sitting at my sacred space. I highly recommend you wear comfortable clothing, have pillows or cushions if you want to feel comfortable. Some prefer a simple mat, rug, or meditation bench. Some of these items could be pricey so you have to use whatever is in your price range. If you want something more stimulating you can do a self-massage and reflexology.

You can also touch items in your space like photos, crystals, stones and massage lotion and essential oils on yourself. I also use mudras (hand poses), placing my hands in certain positions to create certain energy. I often use the prayer pose, hand together as in praying the “Anjali mudra”. Your sacred space is also for when you want as little stimulation as possible. For instance, silence, neutral or no smell, low or no lights, etc. I find it’s very useful for getting excess nervous energy out of oneself and stimulating one's creativity.

This Pain Too Shall Pass


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