“The traumatic moment becomes encoded in an abnormal form of memory, which breaks spontaneously into consciousness, both as flashbacks during waking states and as traumatic nightmares during sleep”, Judith Lewis Herman
Trapped in our psyche, past traumas wind themselves into the body and present as a multitude of physical symptoms. Pain, extreme crushing fatigue, intestinal difficulties, severe itching, rashes, tingling of limbs- the list seems endless. We seem not able to control our anxiety about when or which kind of bodily experiences will be next. We are constantly on guard, judging past and possible future symptoms… was this pain the same a few minutes ago? Will it become worse? If I do this or that will it harm me? What is this new symptom about?
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”, Anaïs Nin
One of the common sayings in Mindfulness Meditation is that thoughts are not facts. In the chronic pain clinics we are told that hurt does not necessarily mean harm. B.K.S Iyengar, a yoga master, says to think light and feel light. But what are we to do when we are in a state of high arousal, waiting for disaster to fall, whether it be in the form of new symptoms or the same old ones we have become accustomed to over these many years? How are we to reduce the amount of anxiety and /or trauma we live with everyday?
There are many strategies that one could employ but key is to keep watch over our breath. Breathing is key to meditation, yoga and living with chronic pain. A state of mind is crucial to living a life of ease (somewhat) in spite of the daily challenges we face with this condition of fibromyalgia. We are told to be vigilant about our breathing and it is well documented that we are people who hold our breaths when thoughts become fearful. It is our minds that are in need of reassurance that the worst is not to befall us.
“Every man (sic) can, if he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain”, Santiago Ramon Cajal
I have before me books, newspaper clippings, magazines that speak to the phenomenal advances that are occurring in the area of brain science and remapping the brain. Just this week I have read in our Canadian newspaper (The Globe and Mail) about brain research exploring the differences in social economic status (SES) of children, in particular regarding children raised in poverty. The June edition of Yoga Journal speaks to training the brain through meditation. The book Buddha’s Brain explores the brains of those who meditate, while the magazine ShambhalaSun has an article (May edition) on this very topic as well. All of these I have read (or re-read) in just one week. Interestingly, apart from the Buddha’s Brain book, and the research cited in the newspaper, the other two are magazines not known to be ‘scientific’ in nature.