Have you read about Mind Body healing and thought it might help you relieve Vulvodynia, Interstitial Cystitis, or other Chronic Pelvic Pain but had no idea how to actually get started applying what you’ve learned to help you relieve YOUR pain?
If so, you’re not alone!
Not surprisingly, many women are overwhelmed when they try to use Mind Body principles to relieve pelvic pain.
Partly because they have no idea what the process is supposed to look like, and partly because it requires a transformation of how they see themselves, their body and their health.
And let’s face it changing patterns of how we think, respond to our emotions, and connect to our body and soul is not simple. But it is doable, especially if you have a road map.
And that’s what I’m going to give you, a road map of the mind body process – including some of the key concepts and tools you’ll need to get started.
In previous posts I’ve shared lots of great information with you about using a mind body approach to relieve pelvic pain, including the importance of learning how to allow your emotions, shift your thinking, and listen to your body.
Now, I’m going to take you through the very first steps of the process, one by one, and give you the overarching principles that you need in order to succeed in applying all the other tools.
These are the very same first steps that I walk my private clients through, and the same steps that I teach the women in my group program, Healing Female Pain.
My hope is that by sharing them with you you’ll be able to get your footing and start making some headway so that you can be successful relieving your pain too.
Great! Let’s get started.
The key topics I’m going to cover today include:
- Getting the Mind Body Wheel to Roll, and
- Turning Your Attention Inward
I have found that one very helpful way to view the process of mind body healing is to think of yourself as building a wheel. A wheel has many spokes and in order for it to roll (and not fall apart) all the spokes must be in place.
This week I’m going to give you the first spoke for your Mind Body Wheel. However, you are going to need at least several more in place before your wheel will roll.
So, be patient and as much as possible enjoy the process. If you expect your wheel to roll (or your pain to go away) after you build one or two spokes you’re likely to get frustrated and quit – and miss a whole lot of other good stuff in the process. A wheel with 2 spokes won’t get very far! That doesn’t mean you won’t start experiencing some mental or emotional relief, but you may get frustrated too, and if that’s the case just know that it’s partly because you need more information. You need to put the other spokes in place.
And unfortunately, I can only teach you one thing at a time!
In addition to that, each tool or concept will take some time to practice, and integrate. It’s kinda like learning to play an instrument or a sport that you’ve never played before. You have to practice your scales or show up for drills to master the individual skills before you can use those skills in a concert or a game. It’s an ongoing process of practicing, trying things out, and making some mistakes before you really understand how to use all of those skills effectively together.
So if you don’t experience pain relief right away, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, or that you’re not making progress, or that this approach won’t work for you.
Keep practicing and you will get there. You will find LASTING relief from your pain.
You just need to keep heading in the right direction.
And in this case that direction is INWARD.
Which is where we’re going to start today…..
Turning Your Attention Inward: Embarking on the Mind Body Journey to Relieve Pain
Up until now it’s likely that a large majority of your focus in relation to relieving your pain has been outward.
You may have been going to doctors and specialists, trying different medications and other treatment programs, searching the internet for solutions (which may be how you found me), and possibly trying every alternative treatment you can find – including special diets, herbs and acupuncture.
After all, that is what the medical paradigm that we are operating in teaches us to do…..go to an expert, find something outside of us (like surgery or a pill or an adjustment) that will fix us.
(I might as well tell you right now, that as hard as it may be for you to believe, your body doesn’t need fixing. It isn’t actually broken. But that’s a topic we’ll cover in more detail later. For now, just consider the possibility that that could be true.)
If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that all this focusing outward has not worked for you so far – or at least not as well as you’d like it to if you’re still in pain.
This isn’t really any surprise.
Because the solution you’re looking for doesn’t exist outside of you.
It exists inside of you.
All the answers you need are right inside you, and what’s more, your body and soul are giving them to you all the time.
I can give you tools that will help you find and understand those answers, but ultimately the answers will come from you.
And they won’t be exactly the same for you as they are for any other woman.
Which means you can’t find the solution in a book or a bottle. You can only find it by bringing your awareness to your own body, thoughts, and emotions so that you can start learning how all those parts of you work together.
You are actually not just a mind or a body, you are a highly sophisticated mind-body-emotion-soul system that you have never been taught how to use properly.
And the way to become an expert in using that system, so you can relieve your pain, is to start OBSERVING.
Observe your mind. Observe your emotions. Observe the sensations in your body. Observe your actions and your life. Observe what happens when you try different tools I teach you.
Observe what happens when you listen to your body’s signals.
Observe what happens when you don’t listen.
This isn’t about deciding anything is right or wrong, good or bad. This is just about gathering information.
Like a detective. You’re gathering information to solve a mystery.
Like a scientist you are testing out different hypotheses and collecting the results.
When you can gather data, clues, and evidence without judging any of it as good or bad, right or wrong, then you will start seeing what’s really there, and you will start making connections. Your mind will be open enough to allow you to learn about YOU – not the way you, or anyone else thinks you should be….but the way you actually are.
Ultimately it is allowing and living in alignment with who you ARE (rather than who you think you should be) that is going to relieve your pain.
And, it all starts with the simple act of Observing. So that’s going to be your first assignment.
Let’s Get Started!
What you will need:
- Willingness to embark on a journey of self-discovery.
- Willingness to suspend judgment, be curious, and keep going.
- A journal
- 10-15 minutes a day (to start)
To begin your process of self-discovery you are going to observe yourself, your body and your mind; in writing, once a day.
Start by getting a journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple spiral notebook will do.
Now set aside 10-15 minutes a day to write in it.
Before you begin writing, bring your attention to your breath and take a few slow easy breaths into your low belly.
Now do a quick scan of your body, notice the sensations that are present, and write them down.….ie) tense shoulders and jaw, heaviness in chest, tingling in feet. If you’re in pain you can include that on your list, but go beyond the pain and see what else you notice – tension, contraction, heaviness, tingling, openness, numbness, etc.
Next you’re going to observe your mind. Put your pen to paper and write about anything you’ve been thinking about over the past hour, day, or week. Don’t think too much just write whatever comes to mind. You don’t have to form full sentences or stay on topic or worry about proper grammar or punctuation. Don’t censor yourself. If you think you sound like a 2 year old that’s perfect! You’re not writing what you should write or think and you’re not trying to figure anything out. You’re simply noticing what’s been on your mind. What you have been thinking – consciously or unconsciously.
When you’re done go back over what you’ve written and start to notice the predominant themes.
If you feel stuck at first, start by exploring how you think and feel about your job, or your partner, or your lack of a partner, or your passion and purpose, or your lack of passion and purpose, or your kids, or your friends, or your family, or your finances, or your dog or your cat, or your house, you get the idea.
If you notice that you’re writing a lot about your symptoms – worrying about them, trying to figure them out, etc. – ask yourself, “What else is going on in my life?” In the past hour or day or week…..or maybe even before the pain started. Who was I before the pain started? What was going on in my life then?
The idea is to start making your thoughts and emotions, and the sensations in your body more conscious. We are so good at ignoring what’s really going on for us. We have so many learned habits and strategies of avoiding ourselves – our thoughts and emotions – and it takes a little dedicated time and practice to start noticing what’s there…
With curiosity, kindness, acceptance and love.
Starting to pay attention to what’s going on for you – in a loving way – is the first step to relieving vulvodynia and other chronic pelvic pain.