Nurturing a sense of play is the main focus of the app. It is the optimal healing state of safety physiology and already exists within each of us. Play is the most powerful pathway to healing – in the right sequence. We must first unbury it in order to connect with it.
However, you cannot go from pain to play without tools and strategies. It is too big of a leap. The impact of chronic pain on your quality of life has been documented to be equivalent to suffering from terminal cancer – except that it is even worse.1 We acknowledge the severity of your suffering, and it is why I use the term, “The Abyss” to describe how dark this place is.
Two aspects of healing
The DOC Journey app considers the healing process in two ways that are interconnected.
- Efficiently processing stress – the protective reactions of anxiety and anger. They are gifts that allowed us to evolve and how we survive. You must develop a “working relationship” with them. They are what you inherently possess, but not who you are. This is a necessary skill set in that you can’t move forward without letting go.
- Moving into your life’s vision of what you desire. This is where the deep healing occurs. The strategies you’ll learn will stimulate your brain to physically change (neuroplasticity). As you move away from the pain circuits and more pleasurable ones are nurtured, you will thrive.
Play for the sake of play
You cannot use play and pleasure to distract yourself from being in pain. Anxiety, anger, and pain are too powerful. It is why the healing journey consists of separate facets – neutralizing the survival circuits and moving into safety. It is a dynamic process with no beginning or end. It’s life.
Visualize your life as a bathtub. The water flowing in through the faucet represents the enjoyable, rejuvenating parts of life. Then picture an unusually large drain that represents anxiety and anger. When you’re agitated and anxious, the drain is wide open, and it won’t matter how much water you run into the tub, it will never fill up. It’s impossible to build up your energy reserves enough to heal.
The DOC Journey app will teach you ways to dynamically plug the drain. You will use them multiple times a day indefinitely, and they quickly become automatic. However, this step alone doesn’t create healing or give you a good life.
To have an enjoyable life, you must live an enjoyable life.
Now imagine running the bath water with the drain closed. You’ve learned how to effectively process your stresses, so you can relax in the tub and enjoy yourself. You can create whatever life you desire. These learned skills are a bit challenging when you are used to spending so much of your life’s energy escaping from pain.
Similar to learning a new language, your brain will develop in whatever direction you place your attention (neuroplasticity). You cannot learn French by fixing your English. The default language for humans is survival and pain. Trying to fix yourself focuses your attention on the problem and reinforces these pain circuits. Learning French requires repetition and practice. In order to experience and enjoyable life, you must live and nurture it. This is where deep healing occurs.
The physiology of threat and safety
Physiology is the term used to describe the operations of your body. It is largely unconscious, automatic, incredibly complex, and powerful.
Anxiety is a physiological state. It is the sensation you experience when you sense real or perceived danger. Your body is being directed to mobilize resources to enhance your chances of survival. It is intended to be deeply unpleasant so as to mobilize you to take action to optimize your actions and function (physiology) to live another day.
It is well documented in the medical literature that chronic stress kills. Why? It is because when you are exposed to threats in any form, your body goes into a defensive survival state of “flight or fight” where you are consuming energy. When this is sustained, your body utilizes energy from your own tissues, including tendons, ligaments, fat cells, internal organs, brain cells by breaking them down. This response also includes the powerful immune system, which is intended to ward off cancer cells, viruses, bacteria, and any foreign invaders. However, when it remains fired up, your inflammatory cells will also attack and destroy your own tissues. The end results are mental and physical symptoms, illnesses, and diseases.
Humans have and additional trait in that we possess language and consciousness. Although there are many benefits, there is a severe downside that I call, “The Curse of Consciousness.” Thoughts are sensory input that also create this threat physiological state. Since we cannot escape them, every person is subjected to some level of ongoing stress physiology.
Play is also a physiological state and the home run for healing. It is necessary for your body to be in a safe state in order to rest and regenerate to build up your reserves for inevitable daily threats. When you are in a “rest and digest” state, you are repairing tissues and storing fuel.
The essence of chronic mental and physical disease is sustained exposure to threats. The foundation of sustaining life is minimizing your exposure to fight or flight chemistry and maximizing your time in safety.
The DOC Journey app
The DOC Journey app will help you create experiences to relax and relearn to play. The optimum chemical composition for your health is when you are laughing and connected to the present moment. The sequence of the app is based on the following:
- Awareness – necessary for solving any challenge
- Hope – an anti-inflammatory powerful healing force
- Letting go/ processing anger – you can’t move forward while holding onto the past.
- Moving forward/ Play – a profound shift in your body’s chemistry
The app is educational and also has a toolbox you can easily access anytime. The best part of this journey though, is that you’ll learn to “Wake the fun up” – and thrive.
Visualize trying to cross a large scenic mountain lake while rowing a boat with a big hole in the bottom of it. The boat is slowly sinking, and you can’t easily both bail and navigate. Most of your efforts are focused on trying to stay afloat, and you don’t much energy left to take in the beautiful view and experience peace.
The hole again represents the drain created by ongoing anxiety and frustration. Trying to outrun your automatic survival reactions can’t and doesn’t work. Processing stress and creating your vision are two separate but intertwined aspects of healing. Once you can efficiently plug the hole, you’ll have the energy to live and enjoy your life journey.
Prepare yourself to navigate your life. Do it now because it won’t just happen. You have only one shot at this human experience.
- Fredheim OM, Kaasa S, Fayers P, Saltnes T, Jordhøy M, Bortchgrevink PC. Chronic non-malignant pain patients report as poor health-related quality of life as palliative cancer patients. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand )2008); 52:143-148.