Holistic Wellness with Life Coach Melissa Holman

A Holistic Healer Explores Alternative Pain Management

What do you do when you’re in pain?

In our Western culture, the go-to option is over-the-counter or prescription medication, but what is the holistic healer’s perspective?  Choosing medication is the expected and even embraced method for pain management.  Maybe you visit a doctor specializing in pain or listen to friends who have been there before, but what should a holistic healer do?  Would it be hypocritical to jump right to a medication when you have so many other tools in your toolbox that could help to manage the pain while your body heals?

What is pain anyway?

Pain is often seen as the problem, but it’s more like a fire alarm. It’s your body’s way of signaling that something is amiss. In fact, pain is a crucial part of the healing process. It alerts your mind to the issue, prompting it to dispatch white blood cells to the area and initiate healing. Without pain, your brain would be oblivious, and the healing process would be significantly delayed. 

Many conditions prevent a person from experiencing the pain fire alarm. The one I’m intimately acquainted with is diabetic neuropathy, which can cause numbness, tingling, and nerve pain.  Injuries to the spine, preventing the pain message from getting to the brain, are also common.  Rarer, however, is congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP).  This syndrome is extremely dangerous.  People with CIP must check for cuts and bruises regularly, and self-mutilation is common among the sufferers.  The odds of being born with CIP are rare, and many pass away before they turn 25. 

Pain is an essential part of your life experience. 

So, what should a holistic healer do when they’re in pain?

This is a question I’ve been wrestling with for about two months as I have been experiencing pain unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve endured pain.  When I was a teenager and dancing ballet, I had a muscle spasm in my back that had me crawling to the dressing room.  Another time, after a full day of dancing, my entire body seized.  I’ve been in several collisions in my life, and I’ve had two cesarean sections.  Pain isn’t a foreign concept, but this most recent issue is a doozy. 

I have been going through an exacerbation of the last collision injury I sustained, which has metamorphosized into sciatica going on for two months.  I would not wish this type of pain on my worst enemy. I struggle to sleep, sit, walk, or stand.  Cooking a meal has been challenging, and exercise has ceased. 

The question remains: What does a holistic healer do with nerve pain?

I first did a Body Code session to determine what energy may contribute to this recent issue. The Body Code is an energetic healing modality designed to get to the root of a problem.  I am all about getting to the root cause. There were some trapped emotions, but there was also healing interference energy; something stood in the way of total healing.  I had an inkling of what it could be, but I wanted outside confirmation.

I sought out a local Feldenkrais practitioner (a somatic healer) and began weekly sessions.  The very first session confirmed what I knew: I had not grieved my brother’s passing.  The avoidance of the pain of grief was interfering with my body’s healing from this current sciatic issue.  Each session built on the one before, and though it’s always darkest before dawn, I gradually started to see a reduction in pain. I visited the healer for several weeks and began to see an improvement in the duration and frequency of the sciatic pain. 

I also used my mad Aromatherapy skills to create a nerve-calming topical containing a 3% essential oil blend of Ravensara (R. aromatica), Coriander (C. sativum), Eucalyptus (E. globulus), Yarrow (A. millefolium), and Frankincense (B. carterii) in a base of fractionated coconut oil.  I applied this several times daily for its nervine and analgesic properties.  Aromatherapy works on the mind, body, and spirit simultaneously, and this blend was calming not only to the sciatic nerve issue but also to my central nervous system.

As I write this, the pain has not yet entirely disappeared, but I am on the road to recovery. 

What is the takeaway from this experience?

This has been an exciting opportunity for me to practice what I preach. As a Life and Wellness Coach, Aromatherapist, and energy healer, how do I respond when my body has decided I need a break?

  1. Recognize the story behind the pain. Yes, I am going through a physical experience of pain, but there is also an emotional component. I realized through this that I do not grieve.  This is not just about my brother’s passing but all of the times I have not grieved throughout my life.  The cumulation of grief has manifested itself in recovery interference, preventing my body from letting go of the physical pain and discomfort.
  2. Embrace the suck. This phrase is a throwback to my time in the military. Sometimes things suck!  What you choose to do with the suck determines the outcome and quality of the time spent in the suck.  It’s about finding comfort within the discomfort.  If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I believe in Providence.  This idea is that everything happens precisely as it’s meant to happen, exactly when it’s meant to happen.  I embraced the suck of minimal rest.  Instead of whining and complaining and wishing to go back to sleep, I took every interrupted night as an opportunity to work on projects, study the scriptures, and write this blog tonight. Does it still suck?    But what you do with the suck matters.
  3. Share the misery. This step is not about having people pity my situation but helping others see that things can be different.  You can be in pain, limping into the grocery store, but do you let it run your life? I have had an opportunity to tell people about what is going on and why I’ve been absent from events (after all, it’s pretty hard to get in and out of the car right now, much less sit still for extended periods).  I’m not looking for sympathy, just sharing.  I know that this pain has a purpose, and I’m telling as many people as I can so they can see that their pain may have a purpose as well.
  4. Enjoy the pain-free moments. As my body repairs itself, I’m having less and less full-on, pain-filled moments and more and more pain-free ones.  It’s easy to overlook when something good is happening in your life.  We have been trained, as a society, to focus on the negative (take a look at the news or your social feed if you don’t believe me). This includes pain.  Though pain serves a genuine purpose in your healing journey, we don’t like it.  As you focus on the pain, your Reticular Activating System (RAS) seeks out more evidence that you are in pain.  If you can shift your focus to the pain-free moments, your RAS will start to focus there. How fabulous to experience less pain simply because you choose to focus on feeling less. 
  5. Offer praise and prayer. I won’t lie.  I asked God to let me sleep before I got up to write this blog tonight.  I’ve been getting, on average, about three hours of sleep each night.  I’m a little deprived by this point and hope tonight might be a night of rest.  It is not, though; I praised that I had uninterrupted time to write.  It is all about perspective.

It doesn’t have to be either/or; it can be yes/and

I have another Feldenkrais session tomorrow and an appointment with my medical doctor.  It’s been over two months of barely sleeping because of the pain.  If you don’t get enough rest, your body cannot complete its diurnal cycle and repair. If I don’t start to get uninterrupted rest, my body’s structure and function will suffer.  It’s time to invite allopathic medicine to support the healing process.

So, as a holistic healer, I choose to use all the tools at my disposal—YES, the ones in my own toolbox AND those others have to help.  Remembering that the body wants to be well and choosing to give it all of the support I can will allow it to continue healing. 

 

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