My Quest for Healing - Demystifying the Healing Process
For almost a decade I struggled with upper back nerve pain. I don't know if you've ever been in a situation like this - whether with migranes or hormonal imbalance, extreme digestive issues, or extra weight that just wont come off - where there's something "off" but nobody can figure it out, so there seems to be no end.
But it you have, you know how helpless it can feel.
And you also know, if you've been here, that it can be pretty all encompassing and yet you feel like you shouldn't talk about it much. That it effects relationships because you want to shut down, and not be seen as complaining or like there's always something wrong.
It's easier to try and do life as usual and always remember it could be worse.
But I was really in trouble.
Some days I couldn't bear the intensity - like fire shooting from inside my ribs down my arm. I wanted to get rid of my arm or even just not exist anymore. Most evenings I cried in despair at not being able to "participate in the world."
My social butterfly nature shifted to being a hermit. If I did go see friends, I had to sneak out early because I just couldn't wait to turn off and go to sleep. The pain was like a limiting factor that I would see how far I could push - just to be a "normal woman in my 20's."
I used all my resources to meet with probably two dozen healers - from a high end osteopathic spine specialist to a shaman. I couldn't live like this anymore and I thought I may have to go on disability! I really wanted a diagnosis so I could know how to fix it! Meanwhile, I was working full-time and building my yoga and meditation business.
Yoga has been a blessing to me since I entered my adulthood and I'm so thankful to have had a place to go with these practices to let go - and to learn what pain has to show me.
I'd been seeing a variety of yoga therapists, who told me to lie down, put my legs up and do the breath work. I’d reached my breaking point.
I fluctuated with giving up mentally or not. I did - I gave up. And then I knew myself to be strong beyond capacity.
But - there was this weird thing! Backpacking in Big Sur, I'd realized there were random times when the pain kind of wasn't at the forefront anymore. Why was it so changeable?
Then one day, I understood .
My teachers were showing me just how my pain experience was woven into my nervous system.
I still didn’t feel at ease, but I kept practicing and time went on. Weeks. More soul searching. My beliefs that I uncovered went through questioning and inquiry.
I started getting better.
A specialized set of tools, spinal release yoga was really resolving my pain and the packaging that came along with it. I began to notice and coordinate the "flare-ups" with events, triggers, and fears.
I was mapping out my experience. I continued my solid meditation practice and (did my best with) self kindness and compassion.
Why is it that the thing that helps is also so difficult?
I experienced old emotions, like struggling with a difficult upbringing.
I realized I had maintained such a solid shell on the outside with my confidence, and that's what people saw. And that actually, on the inside I felt soft.
Can I be honest?
What was really scary was - now I had the power to resolve this! It turns out I was terrified of fully "participating in the world."
There was this kind of trapping assumption that I'd either be really successful (which meant less freedom) or I'd be not good enough.
Once I was sitting in my backyard in Northern California, looking at the mountain when I heard my “inner critic voice” clearly for the first time.
It was shocking, kind of upsetting. But then I naturally and instinctively relaxed, and didn’t let it even be an inner dialogue.
There it had been all along, quietly impacting my behaviors and experiences.
So I made some promises
I was going to respect myself (the intelligent integration of body - mind - and more) and work from the inside.
I committed to celebrate each little win for my healing and growing.
I wouldn't be so harsh to myself.
I had days with no pain and then some with more. I was releasing from the inside out. Then one day I noticed that I'd made a big shift to where pain-free was starting to be the baseline - I couldn't even believe it!
I had seriously given up on that and now it was happening!
Why am I telling you all of this?
I know I'm not the only one who's felt stuck in some kind of physical ailment, along with it's emotional symptoms. Not to make any kind of comparison to your unique circumstance, but I do know that inner work helps.
And if you're like me, it will bring you big insights and breakthroughs.
Also, our physical experience often mirrors our emotional experience.
Finally, hang in there! It might be a more zigzag journey than you thought, but then you have some great understanding when you're not expecting it.
If you're on one of those healing journeys, stay with it! RIGHT NOW you're changing and becoming in ways you don't even know.
Stay committed and you will get deep healing for long term change.