It is almost impossible to believe that you can break free from chronic mental and physical pain after years of suffering and disappointments. Learn how your nervous system is the game changer in your pain recovery journey. If you are dealing with the misery of being in relentless pain and want to learn science backed Mind Body information and skills by two leading experts in chronic pain, David Hanscom M.D. and Les Aria PhD, then this podcast is for you!
To learn more and access all podcast episodes, visit: https://mindbodyspirit.fm/shows/dynamic-healing/
The Healing Power of Kindness – In this episode, Les Aria, PhD and David Hanscom , MD are hosting a special guest, Dr. Michael Stein. Michael Stein, MD is an award-winning author of six novels and four books of non-fiction. He is professor of health policy at the Boston University School of Public Health and executive editor of PublicHealthPost.org. The book we are discussing in this episode is Accidental Kindness. He is an internist who has looked at the effects of both positive and negative interactions with their physicians. Physicians are charged to care for their patients at the deepest level there are many forces that interfere with this interaction.
The Nightmare of Christmas – Although there are additional demands of the Holiday season there are additional stresses that can contribute to Holiday chaos. Creating an awareness of the triggers allows you to develop strategies to navigate them and enjoy your time with your family and friends. The Holidays are stressful and although we all want to experience peace and joy, it is challenging to do so. So, dashed hopes and expectations make it even worse. There are ways to have a joyful Holiday season and understanding the factors that sabotage it are the first step. The key is learning to understand and process your triggers, regardless of the circumstances.
Coping with Family Holiday Triggers -Being triggered and stressed is so common during the holidays is so common that it is somewhat normalized. There are many ways to enjoy your family during this time of year regardless of their behaviors and your stresses. It is a season of peace and joy. Keep your perspective! Know you are an adult, and you have choices. Keep focused on who or what is important to you. How do you wish to show up for the holidays? Practicing the skills we discussed, especially noticing when you are triggered and doing something about it will help you keep your love, peace, and joy during the holidays. As always –be kind to yourself. Let the Holidays begin!
The Physiology of Love – Why Does it Heal – Love is more than a concept. It is a physiological state of safety – profoundly healing. Why? There are many types of love and here are five examples. The common link is being connected to yourself and others.
- Passionate love (Romantic love)
- Family love
- Friendship love
- Mankind (human race) and things on this earth
- Self Love
The podcast finishes with an exercise to generate self-love on the run. Self-love is always the starting point. Be kind to yourself.
Love Leaves When Pain Shows Up – Don’t Share Your Pain – It is common, if not the rule, for people in mental or physical pain to discuss it with anyone who will listen – especially their family. It wears people out and drives them away. An important aspect of healing is nurturing a close support system – connection and love. Discussing your pain blocks this critical step.
Sharing is Not Caring – Don’t Discuss Your Pain – It is common, if not the rule, for people in mental or physical pain to discuss it with anyone who will listen – especially their family. It wears people out and drives them away. An important aspect of healing is nurturing a close support system. Not discussing your pain is a major step.
The Need for Nurture – All of us need to have a place where we feel safe and nurtured. Home is the place where this needs to happen. How safe do you feel in your own home. How does your family feel? How do your close friends feel around you? But remember, the first place to feel safe is with yourself from your own mind. Once you can create this level of safety, you can create it in other areas. Then as your home and circle of friends feel safe, it works in the other direction.
Choosing Joy – This is the final episode of the PRT (Pain Reprocessing Therapy) series. There are many ways of calming down your nervous system, but the real healing occurs as you train your nervous to move into the life that you want. You can learn to create a felt sense of safety versus fear of your pain – mental or physical.
You Have to Feel to Heal – Unpleasant emotions are painful and no one wants to hurt. So, your brain represses it (unconscious response), or we suppress it (conscious act). You must first train yourself to feel your own pain before you can reprocess it. Quote: “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” Sigmund Freud. Emotional and physical pain share the same neurological circuits in your brain. Emotional pain has a bigger impact on your body in that you can’t escape your thoughts. Suppression/ repression is all we know, and it really fires up the threat response. It also causes the hippocampus (memory center) to shrink in size, and the amygdala (fear) to enlarge. In order to solve your pain, you have to first feel it. Awareness is at the core of healing. Then there are specific strategies that allow you to cope and reprocess your emotions. Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) encompasses most of these approaches.
What You Resist Will Persist – This episode is focused on the third component of Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT), which gently “leaning into your pain.” – We tease out the difference between “mind over matter” compared to “being with your pain.” It is also much different than “accepting your pain.” A central skill in in PRT is called “somatic tracking”, which addresses this specific need to “lean into your pain. The goal of somatic healing is to help the patient attend to pain sensations through a lens of safety. At the same time, you must be kind to yourself – you don’t have to like being in pain, and you must nurture you. Another view of this phase is to, “give up and move on.” Pay more attention to the rest of your life instead of your pain (classic phase of healing). Your pain circuits will atrophy and your capacity to enjoy life will grow.
Being Sherlock Holmes for Your Pain – The second component of Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) is gathering and reinforcing personalized evidence for the brain origins and reversibility of pain. One way to combat the belief that there is a “structural”/peripheral cause of the pain is by gathering as much counterevidence as possible – evidence reinforcing that the pain is actually due to central processes, as opposed to a structural problem in the body. The therapist and patient work together in a collaborative effort to gather and reinforce the evidence that their pain is not a function of underlying structural pathology. The therapist can assist the patient in developing an evidence sheet – a list of all the support that reinforces that patient’s pain is due to central processes.
To Solve Anything, You Must First Understand It – “Medically Unexplained Symptoms” (MUS) is a term that came into use around 2002 that implied that your medical provider knows you are suffering, he or she is not sure why, and they will try to help you live the best you can with the pain (mental/physical). This is a deadly term in that it further takes away hope and nothing could be further from the truth. There is always a reason for chronic symptoms. They are caused by the body’s stress chemistry. Understanding the nature of chronic mental and physical pain allows for solutions. A more accurate term would be “Medically Explained Symptoms” (MES). It has been shown that suffering from chronic pain has a similar effect on the quality of your life as having terminal cancer – except that is worse. You often don’t know the nature of the problem, and no one is offering viable solutions. A foundational component of Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) is education. Chronic pain is a complex set of issues and all of them must be understood in order to successfully address them. There are several steps in the evolution of it.
What is PRT? – Understanding the nature of chronic pain and that mental and physical pain are essentially the same entity allows you to create new circuits in your brain and the pain will markedly diminish or resolve. However, there is a sequence that is important to acquire this knowledge and skill set called PRT (Pain Reprocessing Therapy). This podcast presents an overview of the five components that will be discussed in detail in future episodes.
Solving the “Monkey Mind” – Calming the Threat Response – Disruptive thoughts are commonly and somewhat lightly referred to as the “monkey mind.” It is not a joke and has a serious impact on our capacity to enjoy life. Since we can’t escape our thoughts, what do we do? There are three core aspects to calming down your racing thoughts – 1) separating/ diverting from them 2) lowering threat physiology 3) moving on. This episode will address ways to lower the threat physiology. There are many ways to calm down the body’s activated threat response by stimulating the calming effects of the 10th cranial nerve called the vagus nerve. These tools just last for a short time but are intended to be used enough that they become somewhat automatic. They are necessary to get your brain back “online” in order not to act out.
Why Do We Suffer from Disruptive Thoughts? – Many people are frustrated by experiencing “unpleasant repetitive thoughts” (URT’s). There does not seem to be an endpoint and we feel trapped. There are three critical aspects of dealing with this perverse trickery of human consciousness. 1. Understand that anxiety is protective but not who you are 2. Separate from your thoughts and 3. Calm down your nervous system
The Power of Collective Positive Intention with Lynne McTaggart – We are delighted to talk to Lynne McTaggart. She is one of the central authorities on the new science and consciousness, is the award-winning author of seven books, including the worldwide bestsellers The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Power of Eight®. Lynne McTaggart is cofounder of the international magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You , the health expo Get Well, and the architect of the Intention Experiments, a web based “global laboratory” to test the power of intention to heal the world. A major aspect of deep healing is connecting to yourself, others, and the world around you. An even more powerful step is regaining your connection to life itself. This energy pulls you a long way from suffering. She has done an impressive amount of work in this area including developing a process of harnessing the power of social interaction in groups of eight.
Trapped by Your Thoughts – The Need for Mental Control – Disruptive thoughts are universal and part of human consciousness. For many, they can become intense enough to compromise the quality of life. They arise from human’s need for mental control. Disruptive disturbing thoughts are extremely common, and it is difficult to know what percent of the population experience them at a level that disrupts quality of life. They arise from the unconscious brain, are powerful, and not subject to rational control. However, they are so unpleasant that there is still a strong need to control them. They are worsened if you fight them and become independent circuits that we call, “phantom brain pain.” Even more frustrating it that if you try think positive thoughts such as being happy, your unconscious brain will again sabotage you, and you’ll end up sad.
Defining OCD and Removing the Label – OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a term that has many connotations, and most people feel the term does not apply to them. In fact, many if not most people experience unpleasant and disruptive thoughts that detract from their quality of life. They are a manifestation of chronic anxiety, which is a physiological state of threat. It does not respond to rational interventions, as it all arises from the subconscious brain. There are many manifestations of OCD, with there being both external behaviors and internal “mental battles.” One reason people don’t feel the diagnosis doesn’t apply to them is because they are not aware of “internal OCD.” There are no outward manifestations and there are repetitive disruptive thoughts and counter-thoughts. This episode will discuss the traditional diagnosis and clinical presentation and then point out that a better term might be, “obsessive thought patterns” that are disruptive. David Hanscom did experience severe “internal OCD” for over 15 years and managed to solve it. We will discuss the nature of the solutions in future podcasts. Obsessive thought patterns are a big problem for a given person and it may be a societal epidemic.
You Hurt My Feelings – Emotional Pain Equals Physical Pain – “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Nothing could be further from the truth and holding onto this concept is damaging. Research has shown that emotional pain is processed in overlapping circuits in the brain, and the physiological response is the same. Thoughts and concepts are sensory input and emotions are the sensations generated by your body’s physiological makeup. Anxiety is an activated threat response and relaxed is what you feel when you are safe. There are many strategies to process threats in a manner to decrease your levels of stress chemicals and move on. Emotional wounds are not visible to the body but expressed by the nervous system by either thinking about what was done to us and/or when the nervous system senses danger or threat that resembles the original occurrence from the smallest hurts to the small traumas to the large trauma experience. The symptoms are diffuse and can affect any part of your body. Understanding the nature of your body’s unconscious reactions to real or perceived threats is the first step in dealing with them.
Accessing the Love Within – Our unconscious brain’s primary function is to protect us. Unfortunately for humans, it is manifested in ongoing self-critical voices. To access our inherent capacity to love, these voices must be de-energized, which requires specific approaches. We have discussed that love = awareness, which means being fully engaged in the present moment. Any time you are anxious or angry, something in the present reminded you of some situation from the past that was dangerous or perceived as such. In other words, the past is playing out in the present and by definition you are not aware. Love and anger cannot co-exist in a given moment. In this podcast we discuss the necessity of “de-energizing” your automatic survival reactions of anxiety and anger before awareness/ love can emerge. Not only does threat physiology block it, but the blood supply to your brain also shifts from your thinking centers down to your survival midbrain, and you can’t think clearly. Learn the skills of creating safety, connecting to awareness and love, and watch your creativity come to life. Love does heal but accessing it is a learned skill.
Love Heals Workshop- Deepen the Definition of Love – Love is a physiological state of safety that promotes regeneration and healing. It is the antithesis of anger, a state of threat, that consumes resources and causes illness and disease. You have a choice of how you want to be at any moment in time. Make it a habit to choose love.
Disruptive Thought Patterns-The Curse of Consciousness – Every person has to deal with unpleasant thoughts, and they are problematic in that we cannot escape from them. In light of all the misery connected with pain and many disease states, disruptive thoughts are a major factor that detracts from our capacity to enjoy our life. Even when physical pain resolves, unpleasant thoughts are often still problematic. Understanding the nature of these disruptive thought patterns is the first step. They arise from our unconscious brain, and we have no control over them. The harder we try to control or avoid them, the stronger they will become.
Chronic Stress Hijacks Healing- But Avoiding Stress is Worse – Chronic stress interferes and actually halts the body’s healing process at the cellular level. The problem lies in how you process stress because it is your body’s reaction to it that creates an adverse chemistry. Avoiding stress is even more problematic. Stress is your TOTAL bodily reaction to a physical or mental threat. It is not a “psychological” issue, it is physiological (how your body functions). There are three ways that stress causes damage and is well documented in many research papers: repeated activation, slow or no adaption and failure to return to homeostasis. Not only does it cause many serious chronic illness and diseases, it shorten your life span. The key here is to learn the habit of stress-releasing skills to restore your mental and physical health and balance. You do have a choice to influence your physiology from threat to safety and there is help out there for you.
Moving Past the Deadly Trap -of Perfectionism – Perfection is often held up as a virtue by our families, peers, society. It is actually a deadly neurological trick and a cognitive distortion, which steadily wears us down. Perfectionism is much different than a “vision of excellence”, which has the energy of accurately assessing your strengths and weaknesses, creating a vision of where you want to go, and figuring out the steps to get there. Perfectionism is a self-critical voice of “not good enough.” It is a motivating force but detracts from experiencing joy. Dr. Fred Luskin author of Forgive for Good, is our guest on this podcast and discusses issues around perfectionism in detail.
Rebuilding Your Brain and Body – Over 60% of people are raised in households that are chaotic and over half of have experienced severe trauma. Neuroscience has revealed that persistent pain and trauma share the same neural circuits cause a dysregulated nervous system and damaging body chemistry. The effects last for a lifetime – unless you choose a different course.
No Action in a Reaction – Defusing Anger – Similar to anxiety, anger is an even more heightened physiological state. You cannot think clearly, and it is critical to regulate your body’s fight state and get back “on-line” before you take any action.
Vulnerability – The First Step of Forgiveness – There are few rewards in nature for being vulnerable. You won’t survive. Humans also possess this basic instinct, but we also have language and consciousness that allows the possibility of deep relationships. It is a terrible paradox, in that being vulnerable is at the core of enjoyable and functional human relationships. Anger is an intense reaction that covers up feelings of vulnerability. Yet you must connect with your vulnerability before can begin to forgive and thrive. Dr. Fred Luskin is a Stanford psychologist who has committed his career to learning and teaching about forgiveness. He is the author of Forgive for Good. He is our guest on our show and shares his insights on the need to be vulnerable and also some ways to acquire this skill.
You Can’t Move Forward Until You Let Go – You cannot move forward into healing if you are holding onto the past. Some aspect of forgiveness must be manifested in your life daily to truly solve your chronic pain. It is ALWAYS the tipping point. Why? Anytime you are anxious or angry, a current event has triggered something from the past that was dangerous or perceived as such. You are there and not here. Dr. Fred Luskin is a Stanford Psychologist who is a pioneer in looking at forgiveness as part of the process. He is the author of Forgive for Good and presents some deep insights into the need for forgiveness. Note awareness is the cornerstone of healing – anger and awareness can’t co-exist. Learning to let go of the past is a major milestone in the healing journey.
Hijack Your Nervous System to Heal – Our thoughts and actions are processed by the nervous system, which sends out instructions to every cell in the body how to respond. If the input is unpleasant or overstimulating, your body will sense danger and produce a stress response. You will feel anxious, agitated, and your pain will increase. What you CHOOSE to load into your nervous system translates into a physiological response of safety or threat. Your brain will develop wherever you place your attention. It is the reason why we make the following suggestions as foundational to healing One of the cornerstones of healing is becoming aware of the nature of your input, understanding the effects on your mental and physical health, and being proactive in your choices.
The Power of Choice – It is almost impossible to believe that you can break free from chronic mental and physical pain after years of suffering and disappointments. Learn how your nervous system is the game changer in your pain recovery journey. If you are dealing with the misery of being in relentless pain and want to learn science backed Mind Body information and skills by two leading experts in chronic pain, David Hanscom M.D. and Les Aria PhD, then this podcast is for you!
Act in Action – Choose – Psychologically flexibility is the opposite of what most of us possess. There is a human tendency to reinforce our views of the world and affirm them. It requires a lot of ongoing energy. ACT teaches you how to become more open to new ideas and creativity. This episode focuses on choose,” which is the final phase of this three-step process.
Act in Action – Check – In order to stimulate your brain to change (neuroplasticity) you must first know exactly where you are at. The first step is to “catch” and notice that there is a change. Then the second step is, “check” where you recognize what the change is (creating some “space”), and then choose where you want to go. Today we will be discussing the “check” phase of reprogramming your brain.
ACT in Action – Catch – ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) is a mindfulness-based behavioral intervention that helps us live in the present moment using values to move towards what matters the most to you in life. You are moving away from pain. It provides practical ways to unhook from the storylines of your mind. The approach reduces your suffering from emotional and physical pain. Changing your relationship to adversity allows you to minimize your suffering. It is a learned skill that is represented by “3 C’s” that will teach you to be psychologically flexible – catch, check and choose. We will be discussing the first “C” in this episode. You will learn to sense when you are not connected to the present moment and recognize your instinctive reaction to push unpleasant emotions away. “Catch” is the opposite action where you allow them into your consciousness and where you can process them.
Putting ACT into Action for Pain – ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) can provide you with practical ways to unhook from the storylines of your mind. The approach reduces your suffering from emotional and physical pain. ACT is a mindfulness-based behavioral intervention helping us live in the present moment using values to move towards what matters the most to you in life. You are moving away from pain. ACT understands that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. If you fight pain, your suffering worsens. Changing your relationship to adversity allows you to minimize your suffering. It is a learned skill that represented by “3 C’s” that will teach you to be psychologically flexible.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Pain Recovery – Emotional and physical pain share neurological circuits in the brain and chronic activation of them is unpleasant. Since we don’t want to feel pain, we suppress it, which fires up the nervous system and your flight or fight response. Over time, we become more and more determined (and rigid) to not feel pain and it is a losing battle. A key to solving chronic pain is learning to quit fighting it, be with it, and let it dissipate. However, it does require learning approaches to allow you to tolerate feeling uncomfortable, as emotional pain can be intolerable. ACT is a way of a learning to be with uncomfortable feelings and developing psychological flexibility. It is the foundation of Dr. Aria’s practice. He discusses the basis of it and how to bring these concepts into your daily life. He presents “The 3 C’s” – Catch, Check, and Choose. You can begin to use these tools today.
Using Values to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions – Because change is challenging for majority of us, New Year’s resolutions often fail to realize change takes time. Like growing something you planted, a fruit tree will take years to mature and consistently bear fruit. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers solutions to guide us through the process of change, that is, our New Year’s resolutions. A core aspect of ACT is becoming aware of and defining your values and then engaging in behaviors that create neuroplastic changes in your brain. It entails being “psychologically flexible” as opposed to being rigid and self-critical. You choose to behave in a manner consistent with your values understanding that you will “fail” every day. But the values will remain, and you can keep moving in that direction. By determining or redefining who or what is important to you a.k.a. values… We apply an intrinsic ability to motivate ourselves versus doing things because we have to wear a “shirt” that is outside of us. Consider a fishing rod with a dangling carrot. What you move towards is where true healing occurs. You have to live a good life in order to have a good life.
The Destructive Power of FOMO ( Fear of Missing Out) – FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a common pattern of thinking in modern times. Why in the face of so much prosperity is it so prevalent? Understanding that is a manifestation of your unconscious self-critical voice and this it is irrational is the first stepping in successfully dealing with it.
The Pain of Social Isolation – Emotional pain and physical pain have overlapping circuits in the brain. They play off each other. People in pain are more sensitive to social rejection and social rejection makes the pain worse. Loneliness has profound effects on your mental and physical health. This situation is magnified during the Holiday Season. By understanding the nature of the problem, there are potential solutions that will not only help you through the Holidays but will move you forward on your healing journey. The starting point is being nice to yourself.
Survival Tips for the Holidays – Presence, Pacing, and Boundaries – What truly brings you joy and how can you fully experience it? These tips can enhance your capacity to connect to other people close to you. In this episode, we’ll be discussing the last three tips to help you thrive during the Holidays.
Survival Tips for the Holidays-Communicate and Be Realistic – It is ironic that we treasure having major holidays with the spirit of love and giving, yet there are many ways that they can be incredibly draining. Much of the “Holiday Spirit” is created by the marketing world and is not a lot of people’s reality. In this episode, we’ll be discussing the need to be realistic and also communicate. You can capture the Holiday Spirit.
Survival Tips for the Holidays – Learning psychological skills is key to surviving, not just using your breathwork or meditation, or exercise –but using tools that provide effective outcomes to help you be your best and safest this holiday season. Dr. David Hanscom and Dr. Les Aria provide tips on todays episode that will help you become more psychologically flexible, which leads to safety versus threat, which is psychological inflexibility. Learning to connect with your thoughts/emotions with physical sensations is key. Being psychologically flexible means: waking up, loosening up and stepping up. Being around family members and certain people can easily activate our old storylines and memories. When your mind hooks you, what do you do? How does it cost you?
Happy Holidays…NOT – Humans evolved to our current state at the top of the food chain through cooperation. It is one of the main reasons that social connection is so critical. The deeper the connection, the better; except family triggers are the most powerful and destructive. This problem is accentuated during the Holidays where hope and expectations for connection are high, and it is even more painful when these potentially wonderful gatherings blow up. Being aware of the strength and nature of these primitive triggers, increases your chances of navigating them and having a wonderful Holiday Season.
The Care of the Patient with Dr. Francis Peabody – Dr. Francis Peabody was a famous physician who possessed a deep understanding of the need for a strong patient/ doctor relationship. He clearly understood the interaction of patient with his or her circumstances in creating symptoms. His 1927 lecture, “The Care of the Patient” is the basis for this Dynamic Healing podcast.
Reconnecting to Your True Self – By understanding that anxiety and anger are automatic hardwired reactions, you can develop a “working relationship” with them. Then, instead of spending energy trying to change them, you are free to connect with the part of your brain that knows how to have fun and thrive.
Defining the Mind Body Connection – It Really is One Unit – Your body can remain alive without consciousness. Homo sapiens are the only species that possess advanced language and abstract thinking. Every other species is hardwired to avoid threats and seek safety and they don’t have to think about it. The mind and body are a single unit.
What is Dynamic Healing? – Staying alive is a dynamic process. The body adapts to the environment every second by processing data from innumerable sensors sending data to your brain. Signals are sent out to ensure your survival. When your stresses are overwhelming and you feel under threat, your body responds with a flight or fight response. Multiple mental and physical symptoms are created. Dynamic healing addresses this root cause of illness and chronic disease can be effectively treated and often solved.