“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear-not absence of fear” ,Mark Twain
Neuroscientists can now tell us amazing things about the brain, they are the experts on the nervous system. The argument that there is or is not a ‘mind’ is no longer relevant. A mind without a brain and a brain without a nervous system is not feasible. It is the mind that alerts us to fear, which may or not be a threatening situation. It is the brain within the processes of the central nervous system that responds to this perceived danger, affecting the tissues, causing pain.
In June I attended a month in the Chronic Pain Clinic. Each day we were made aware of the importance of our own minds as we lived with chronic pain. We were encouraged to use breathing exercises to produce relaxation in order to break the cycle of pain produced by muscle tension and to relax the nervous system. Equally as important were the pacing strategies: breaking activities into small parts that were more manageable. Knowing, as I do, the personality patterns of those of us with fibromyalgia, I can say with certainty that we are high achievers and want to accomplish many tasks as quickly as possible. Pacing is very difficult for us. Self-talk was encouraged in order to practice ‘letting go’. The motto was: ‘DO-REST-DO“,finding a baseline within which we can work, stop, rest and do again. I warn the readers it isn’t an easy task practicing these strategies on a daily, almost moment by moment routine!
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:it goes on”, Robert Frost
I have frequently cited the works of adiemusfree from her HealthSkills Blog. She has become my guru for updates on research regarding pain. I take hope because of her personal struggles with the issues surrounding living with acceptance in lieu of catastrophising. Daily pain is exhausting, depletes our energy, leaves us with a sense of hopelessness. Each new symptom (and there are many) can be like taking one step forward and two backward. How do we continue? As she says in her October 18/15 blog: “After all, life doesn’t stop just because pain is a daily companion”. The same could be said of the other myriad of symptoms we experience.
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it”, Plato
The search continues for the ultimate regime that strengthens and improves our overall health. From the ‘pump iron’ mantra… to the videos about Pilates… to the parks filled with the Tai Chi practitioners… to the joggers on our sidewalks…to the yoga clubs whose numbers continue to swell, we are left in a state of frustration and confusion, particularly if we can sometimes barely walk! What is to be done?