Fibromyalgia: Living in high alert

“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.

I have heard and recorded some key phrases that help me (sometimes, when I am diligent about it) calm a frightened mind. One of which is the RAW approach: REGISTER your pain; ACCEPT it; WORK with your body, not against it.

Another method to reduce the potential threat within our nervous system is to differentiate between emotional and contextual memory. We can train our minds to bring up the specific context of the source that is calling up the traumatic information to our mind, rather than simply responding emotionally, without thought to the source. We do this without the drama of imagined angst.

There are other strategies I have learned over the years and have to work with continually:

  1. Avoid catastrophic thinking. It is an ‘all’ or ‘nothing’ approach to life.
  2. Avoid self blaming such as “should have” or “would of”. Do grant myself self-compassion instead.
  3. Avoid mind reading…imagining that the worst is about to happen. The glass is NOT always half empty.
  4. Avoid fortune telling. The pain, fatigue, anxiety is not forever. I WILL have some good days.

image1I hope these strategies will help in the new year and as I gaze up at the winter sky (at least it is winter in my part of the world, while my Australian friends celebrated the summer solstice just recently!) I can see the dark clouds dissipating while the amazing brightness of the pinks and blues predominate.



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