We are a society of instant gratification; feeling good (now) at any cost.
It is no surprise that the desire for instant relief of our chronic pain is a symptom of that paradigm. We have become a nation dependant on pharmaceutical drugs. Furthermore, we take more drugs to combat the side effects of our original medications. Like any shortcut, however, there are myriad hidden costs not only to our pocketbook but more importantly to our state of well being. The consequences cannot be overstated, the most dramatic being our disconnection to our biggest resource regarding our healing process and recovery: our bodies.
Modern medicine has obviously blessed countless millions. What I am pointing to is our need to eradicate our pain before we have understood why it is has manifested in the first place. My concern is our inherent separation from our bodies as a result. Ironically, the original symptoms we are trying desperately to eliminate (with medication, substance abuse, food, dysfunctional relationships) are often our clues to healing our chronic pain and discomfort. Approaching recovery from pain as a process takes maturity and courage. The notion of instant relief for established chronic pain encourages a lack of ownership of our bodies and our pain; it focuses on fault and blame rather than responsibility.
Living in our bodies is a relationship like all others in our life. How long have we been ignoring what our bodies have been trying to communicate to us, perhaps for years? The result is dissociation, an overloaded central nervous system, tense gripping muscles and an inability to deal with stress in healthy and appropriate ways. In his book “Waking the Tiger,” Peter A. Levine, Ph.D., discusses how traumatic symptoms are not caused by the “triggering” event itself. They stem from the frozen residue of energy that has not been resolved and discharged; this residue remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and spirits.
How does one integrate instead of simply medicating? Connection and trust are important first steps. Somatic (body) healing therapies such as Hellerwork, Bodynamics and Hakomi, to name a few, can access latent psychological resources while increasing our awareness and experience of our bodies. Integration involves releasing old patterns that may no longer serve us and replacing them with new possibilities: in the way we move, think and how we relate to ourselves and the world.
Most of all there are no harmful side effects and the changes can last a lifetime.
Ivan Duben is a certified Hellerwork practitioner living in Vancouver, B.C.