This is a personal blog, so I am going to write about a personal topic this time around. Specifically, how learning meditation – or in the more scientific parlance ‘skilled relaxation‘ – helped cure me of 1) crippling sciatic pain 2) seasonal allergies and 3) chronic sinus infections and 4) GERD or acid-reflux.
Many people are introduced to meditation via Yoga, but it deserves it’s own focus independent of the spiritual and physical elements of Yoga.
Too good to be true, you say? Well, it is. In fact, after my adventure through the bowels of chronic incurable health conditions (at least from a western perspective) I learned that all these hard-to-diagnose, impossible-to-treat health complexes are all inter-related and ultimately caused by psychological states.
In other words, these are fundamentally psychosomatic disorders. This does not mean that the pain and suffering is not real, it just means that it is triggered by psychological states, and can only be treated by addressing these psychological states. Treatment with medicine or other physical approaches will fail or at best cause ‘symptom substitution’ whereby the first problem goes away but another takes it’s place.
Without boring you on the details, I first learned that my horrible leg pain – diagnosed at age 30 as a ‘ruptured disk’ – may not be the result of a physical abnormality after a friend referred me to the writing of Dr. John Sarno. He is most famous for writing ‘Healing Back Pain‘, but his best book in my opinion – invaluable for people with chronic conditions – is ‘The Mindbody Prescription“. Please buy and read this book if you have back pain, allergies, GERD, carpal-tunnel, fibromyalgia, or any of the other chronic conditions doctors seem helpless to treat.
Dr. Sarno (now retired) – A true healer, genius, and under-appreciated man
Dr. Sarno focused his attention on proving the these conditions are not triggered by physical causes, and recommends therapy and a conscious effort to uncover the sources of rage and anger that are most likely at the root of the pain or health complex. He also mentions the benefit of mediation. In my opinion, both go hand in hand. First, go to a therapist who understands psychosomatic disorders, then, once you have better a understanding of your mind, start a relaxation program for at least 30 minutes twice a day.
Search the web for information on Skilled Relaxation.. The idea is to get you brainwaves into a Theta, or very relaxed but not asleep state, for 30 minutes twice a day. Do it in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon, not right before or after sleep. This way the calm state lasts throughout the day. When you reach the relaxed state, repeat to yourself ‘I am healthy and happy’. When you are in this state messages have a chance to seep into your subconscious.
It’s hard for some people to truly relax during the day (myself included). One thing that helped me in to use Biaural Beat software. This is noise that plays through headphones and helps move your brainwaves into a desired state. Good software to consider includes “Brainwave Generator” for PCs and ‘Gnaural‘ for Macs. Both are free, and you can download different ‘presets’ to customize the experience. This really helps people who are not used to meditation get an idea of what it is supposed to feel like. Once you are used to it, stop using the software and just rely on your own facilities to get into the Theta state.
The more time you spend in a meditative state, the fast you will heal. It took me about two years to fully recover from my sciatic pain, and another year to fully cure my chronic allergies and other conditions. Now, whenever I get twinges of pain or allergic reactions I know I have emotional pain that needs to be addressed and stress I need to treat with meditation.
So if you’re suffering, take my advice. Meditation is awesome. Not only that – it’s the ONLY cure for these conditions.
Admit to yourself that there is nothing physically wrong with you. Really believe it at a deep level. Then start meditating and you will be amazed at the results. As Sarno says, if you still have some tiny bit of doubt, if some part of you still thinks there is something physically wrong with you, the complex will remain. The pain complex is intended as a distraction to painful emotions. Get in touch with your pain, meditate, and ignore what western doctors tell you (my doctor told me I was crippled for life at 30 – and I just carried my six year old daughter for two miles up a mountain -so nuts to you, doc).
This approach to self-healing may never become mainstream western medicine (Dr. Sarno himself is ostracized and was somewhat bitter about it in our discussions) due to the simple fact that western medicine requires techniques that work whether or not you believe in them.
In other words, western medicine will never be able to treat psychosomatic disorders because the conscious states that trigger them cannot be tested in a lab. This is a real tragedy. It is critically important that we teach children meditation, perhaps via Yoga initially, so they can avoid chronic conditions later in life.
Any experiences with meditation? Let me know in the comments.