Have You Ever Noticed?
Have you ever noticed that when a cat or dog has had surgery or is injured and the area is bothering them, they lick it a lot? So much in fact that we have to devise ways to keep them from disrupting the area further with their incessant worrying.
What do you do when you have had an injury or surgery or some physical thing is bothering you? Usually, the average Westerner’s first instinct is to scream, “Don’t touch it!” Other cultures handle this differently – for example a sprained ankle in China is traditionally treated with vigorous manual massage and manipulation. In sports medicine culture, a sprained ankle is iced, taped, and trainers nag you to use it as if it doesn’t hurt at all. These last two methods are painful but also very effective. They give little or no attention to the experience of pain, focusing instead on what will most quickly heal the physical injury.
To heal well and thoroughly we actually need a pretty good mix of all of these instincts and methods. Why? Because injury, pain, and dysfunction are physical, mental, and sometimes spiritual experiences – to neglect one area in the healing process will usually keep the whole thing from resolving completely.
Pain can be tricky, because it has such a strong psychological aspect. We have so many stories that we tell ourselves about the pain we feel that it can be very difficult to tell the difference between the story and what we are actually feeling.
But before you do anything else, the number one thing you have to do first is to feel directly in to the center of your pain. I know this sounds like a bad joke for some of you. Chronic pain, severe pain, they are terrible. But, if you are ignoring your pain and the emotions it brings with it, if you are trying not to feel it, to pretend it’s better (or worse) than it is, if you have yourself convinced that you cannot handle how much pain you actually have, then it is going to be hard to start getting rid of it.
I know that people are afraid that if they feel directly into the center of their pain, they will be completely consumed by it, overwhelmed and unable to return from it. In this exercise, this is true for about a split second. And then the overwhelm clears a little, and a little more, and then the information (the real information about your pain) starts pouring in. It takes some trust, some courage to do this exercise. But my general rule is that if you were unable to handle all of the pain in your body right now you would be passed out or in the midst of a psychological break instead of reading this.
I have really, truly, through many sessions with my own pain and through my sessions with my clients, found this exercise to be of extraordinary value.
Once you have accurate internal information about your own pain, you can start to formulate a plan to relieve it.
To my mind the next stage of pain relief is to actually start touching the area, in our case the abdomen, which may include the pelvic area for you. This doesn’t have to be a lot of touch and it doesn’t have to be strong touch. Just engaging at all is the next most important diagnostic stage. Here we hope for two things: one, that you can start to make friends (or at least acquaintances) with your belly; and two, that you can gather enough information to start doing something about it.
Don’t Force It (Unless It’s Time)
You have likely experienced enough pain, dysfunction, or trauma around your abdomen that there is no need to add more in. If you’re not ready to do this exercise or actually start touching your belly, then just imagine yourself doing the exercise, imagine your own hand touching your own belly. There is no need to force anything. Of course, if you feel stuck and really want to move forward, it may be time to give yourself a little stronger nudge and take the plunge even though it scares you. In the end there’s no way through it but through it. Cliché, but true.
In the end, relieving your pain (whether it is from adhesions, scar tissue, or overly tight abdominal or pelvic muscles) is going to be about healing your whole Self. The tools I offer on this site in the form of the various programs will hopefully help you on your journey and I hope that as you move through this process you find it all useful.
Remember to be gentle with yourself, to give yourself lots of positive self-talk (“Yes! I Can!” Yes, You Can!), and take your time. Drink lots of water, rest and eat well, and give yourself some room to flail a little as you go through this journey to the other side of the pain.