This blog is really about short-term fear and pain management using mBIT. My early career started as a sports therapist and there are very few approaches to healing sports related injuries that I haven’t had some experience of, either as a therapist or client. I thought it might be fun to write about managing short-term pain (or the idea of it).
Have you ever had one of those sports massages that you dread going to, but you know in your mind that there is value from going along. Perhaps not even a sports massage, maybe you have simply gone for a deep tissue massage to release some tension within your muscles, or we could just as easily be talking about osteopathy, chiropractic treatment, physio… Any physical therapy where joints and muscle are being manipulated in some way to alleviate discomfort.
Let me take you on a journey through a potential (and familiar) experience… and then a more optimal mBraining approach…
I am lying on the couch and going through the preparatory phase of the treatment the soft tissues around the treatment area being warmed and the articulations within the joints are being eased somewhat, ready for the dreaded pain-inducing part of the treatment.
My breath… is uneven and I am holding my breath every time the therapist goes near my pain areas.
My head is chatting away… “Come on now, you know you need to just relax… if you don’t relax, you won’t really get the benefit of the treatment, because you’ll tense up and limit the therapist’s ability to help you. Of course… They might not be really qualified… you know… a qualification that actually means something. You can do real damage y’know messing with people’s necks… spine… (insert whatever part of the body you like)… What if their actions actually injure me… like a really significant life-changing injury… How long did they say they have been practicing…
My heart… Beating a little faster is having sensations along the lines of I don’t know if I really trust this therapist…
My gut… Knotted up in a ball, is hiding, I have my teeth clenched and I am pretty sure I am not swallowing. I have sensations along the lines of “oh no, n, n, n, noooo brace yourself, this is going to really hurt…
So what is going on? Well I am certainly not breathing well and my head is very noisy for sure; making up all sorts of stories and sowing seeds of doubt. My heart has lost sight of its connection to the therapist and even its connection to myself – I am almost attempting to have an out-of-body experience, so that I can escape any discomfort and this is exacerbated by my gut basically hiding away. I expect I am not the only person who has been here… tense and in a space of head-based “logic says this will help, so grit your teeth and get through this” survival.
So how can we do things better.
Well I have tested the following strategy on both remedial sports massage and on osteopathy… at key moments… for me, calves, quads and some very sneaky back knots for the former… and back twists and neck realignment for the latter.
Here are four areas of focus that could dramatically reduce your pain and anticipation of pain.
- Breath: come back to reminding yourself of your balanced breathing… if necessary slightly lengthen the exhale… maybe 6 seconds in, 9 seconds out.
- Check in with the heart; have gratitude for gifting yourself this treatment. Acknowledge from your heart that being here is a reflection of valuing and showing care for yourself and your wellbeing.
- Check in with your head to use your creativity to envisage yourself like jelly – use your mind to notice how you can relax and soften each part of your body. Attend with your mind to your breath – keeping it busy with finding all the ways you can be as limp as possible (for me, imagining myself like a springy jellyfish works really well).
- Check in with your gut and from this space, know you are safe and that your gut has the role of protecting you – after all that is exactly why you are here. You are the kind of person who looks after yourself, this is part of being a healthy, resilient individual. Use your gut to lean into temporary discomfort.
If you choose to cycle around heart, head, heart, gut and heart, you can – but for me, this act of simply breathing well and communicating with three brains has great effect.
There is a second strategy I have used that might be helpful to regroup if you find yourself going into the old pattern… and that is using humour to check in with the head brain when it goes off the rails.
It goes like this…
Hey there head… I really love your creative story telling y’know. You sound super busy doing gut’s job… and making up the most amazing stories of doom… how’s that working out for you?
For me this is a great pattern interrupt, because once we have each been mBraining for a while, our head will know it is out of line and respond with.. “ok… ok… you got me… lets regoup… what shall we do…” and I can then get back to my breathing to invite more wisdom in.
Hope you find this blog useful – this strategy has certainly got me through some pretty painful therapy. http://www.mbraining.co.uk/mbit-coaches-ready-to-work-with-you-face-to-face-over-the-internet-or-on-the-telephone/
Written by Lizzi larbalestier mBIT master coach https://goingcoastal.blue/