Learn How to Get Well ~ Part 2

Last time I shared that we can participate in and lead the healing of our bodies. We have the ability to influence the course of physical illness. In particular, the point of the previous article was that we should learn not about the course of disease, but that we would be better served by learning from those who got well with little or no medical intervention. We’re not opposed to medical interventions but we can benefit in knowing how we can contribute to our own healing. The same is true when it comes to mental health.

We know that some people who were abused physically, emotionally or sexually as children have significant emotional/mental problems as adults. But it is just as true that there are many people who had similar experiences but do not have mental health problems as adults. How is that true? So far as I can find, there are no studies that explain how others who had similar childhood experiences avoid having problems. Psychologists and psychiatrists have conducted major studies on people with phobias and how they got them. Richard Bandler and John Grinder (developers of Neuro-Linguistic Programming) studied people who got over phobias and how they did it. They developed a process for eliminating phobias in just a few minutes without putting the client though any further trauma. The process has been effective in treating PTSD as well. The process does not fit in any psychological model and therefore it remains unrecognized in the mental health fields.

NLP practitioners are not therapists, though many therapists use NLP in their practices. NLP practitioners are not particularly interested in how dis-ease was caused. We’re more interested in knowing how it’s maintained. Healing does not begin at the “cause” stage. It starts with where the client is and moves to where the client wants to be. The practitioner does not need to know what happened to make you phobic, depressed, anxious or whatever. Instead he needs to know what are the internal mental processes that maintain the current problems state. As an example, consider this: We all have internal dialogues and mental pictures. Everyone can day dream and have wonderful or horrifying day dream experiences. The first is called fantasy. The second is called worrying. Those who have no strategy for distinguishing between imaginary and real, between day dreaming and real life, experience life as being very confusing. Those who experience internal voices or internal pictures as being outside themselves often get labeled as schizophrenic. If they had a strategy for consistently distinguish between real and imaginary, the problems would disappear. Those who are labeled as being depressed, would benefit by being taught how to brighten up the day and future. Wouldn’t it be great if you could learn how to take all those terrible things that have happened to you, bundle them up and put them behind you so they were over and done with? This is possible. This has been done successfully many, many times.

I am not making light of life struggles. We may and often do need help to deal with troubled times. But it is just as true that we play a major role in our successfully navigating our way through those troubled times. We are just beginning to understand how to use our mental capacities to create the kind of life we want. We will always benefit from and need physical and mental health professionals. But each of us has within us the ability to participate in our own healing. We are available to partner with you, that’s what we at Future Life Now do: We teach people how to use their mind and body to achieve the kind of life they want.

Learn How to Get Well ~ Part 1

The scientific medical communities are the world’s best experts at studying disease. But they have not been all that successful in studying well-being. I did an internet search for scientific articles on the study of spontaneous remissions and found exactly one. Spontaneous remission is the term used to explain what happened when someone recovers from a chronic or terminal illness and no one know why or how. There is only one study that attempted to discover how people diagnosed with cancer suddenly recover with no apparent or effective treatment. The term spontaneous remission seems to imply that it will come back. If a cold goes away with no treatment, is it cured or simply in remission?

In the last couple of years, we at Future Life Now have made references to two books The Brain’s Way of Healing and The Psychobiology of Gene Expression. They are among the most recent of a very long list of books exploring how individuals influence the course of dis-ease – both physical and emotional.

And in the 1970’s influential books including Getting Well Again, which reported the use of imagination, visualization and belief and recovery for people diagnosed with terminal cancer. A few years later Bernie Siegel, MD, published Love, Medicine and Miracles about Exceptional Cancer Patients.

It’s an impressive and very long list of authors that have covered this topic including Norman Doidge, MD, Ernest Rossi, Ph. D., Carl Simonton, MD, Stephanie Matthews Simonton, Jeanne Achterberg, Ph.D., Larry Dossey, MD, and Deepak Chopra, MD. A common theme in all these books is that mental processes have an enormous impact on mental and physical health and well-being. Until recently, the scientific communities of mental and physical health have largely ignored or denied what these people have been saying for the past forty-years. These claims simply have not fit into the scientific model of inquiry.

Doctors know that smoking can cause cancer, but they do not know how to explain people who smoke for fifty years but never get cancer. They know that people who have strokes frequently have high blood pressure. But they don’t know how millions of people who have high blood pressure avoid having strokes.

We know that herniated discs or arthritis in the spine can be exceedingly painful. But we also know that there are many who have herniated discs or arthritic spines but have no pain at all. I think it would be great to discover how that happens. When it comes to chronic pain, I do know this: I have never worked with a client experiencing chronic pain that could not make the pain worse. I didn’t have to teach them how to do it, but they could do it without getting out of the chair, just by focusing on it. They also discovered that if they could make it worse, they could make it better. We teach clients who experience chronic pain how to resolve/reverse it so they experience more and more comfort.

We owe a great debt to the scientific community. Their efforts have extended life expectancy in ways never thought possible a century ago. The authors listed above and many, many more are suggesting that the scientific community and the world would benefit if the scope of study were expanded to include those who unexpectedly recovered. An eighty plus year old member of a church where I was the pastor was diagnosed with a horribly painful form of skin cancer. She spent weeks in a regional cancer research hospital. She could not even stand to have sheets to touch her body. The hospital eventually said they had done all they could do and sent her home to live with her sister until she died. A niece was a nurse and changed her dressings twice a day. She miraculously completely recovered! She returned to the hospital where pictures of her skin were taken and her case written up. But no one asked how it happened. It was simply a case of spontaneous remission.

For four years, I facilitated a cancer support group. The participants learned how to use their own mental and physical resources to make therapies more effective with fewer unwanted effects. Using mental imagery and guided meditations they strengthened their immune systems, decreased or eliminated pain and had better than expected outcomes. Not all survived. But all lived higher than expected quality of life. Those who did not survive lived active lives up until the last two or three days of life. These same practices have been shown to improve conditions for people experiencing many different illnesses including diabetes, arthritis, heart problems, and others.

We can learn how to be the major contributor to our health, well-being and healing. Health care providers can be more effective if we learn how to take the lead in healing.

What is true in the physical health arena is also true in then the mental health field as well. We’ll address that next time.

Timeless Japan: A Photography Exhibit by Helen Rindsberg

Timeless Japan presents eight photos that capture Japanese landscapes; rural, urban and religious. They are bold color studies of cultural traditions from rice fields to shrine deities, subjects reaching back hundreds of years yet still vibrantly alive in the 21st century.

Drop by to see the opening on Friday, May 12, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Guitar music by Todd Juengling
Meet Helen Rindsberg and connect with new and old friends alike.
Wine, tea, and nibbles provided. Profits from sales to benefit the Cincinnati Asian Art Society.

Show open: May 12 – July 28, 2017

Artist Statement:
My passions are teaching, photography and Japan. Photography is my means of personal expression and appreciation of what is beautiful and important. It’s a way for me to help people see the world in a new way. The photographs in this exhibit are part of my efforts to capture the enduring cultural traditions of Japan and share their energy with others.

Biography:
Helen Rindsberg is the President of the Cincinnati Asian Art Society and in her own words “I’ve been crazy about Japan since I was nine years old.” She has been a teacher and administrator in Cincinnati since 1972, working with students from junior high school to college. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelors and Masters of Arts in Art Education and is currently an adjunct professor there.

In 1984 Helen won a fellowship to study the economy of Japan. That three-week trip began an amazing personal journey. She has traveled to Japan 16 more times, most recently as co-leader of a trip from the art museum. She and her husband have hosted 18 Japanese college students for anything from six months to five years. Their extended family now includes 21 “grandchildren” and has helped deepen her love and knowledge of the Japanese culture.

A docent at the Cincinnati Art Museum since 2004, Helen specializes in tours of the Asian art collection and helps with training for docents and teachers. Helen is also a gardener and Director of Cincinnati Dayton Taiko, a traditional Japanese drum group.

Maybe it IS your Grandmother’s Worst Nightmare

Ernest L. Rossi’s book The Psychobiology of Gene Expression is a pretty heavy read for the lay person, but it carries an important message for each of us. His basic hypothesis, in very simple terms, is that there is a connection between one’s psychology and physical health. More specifically, there is evidence that suggests that psychological processes such as hypnosis can be effective in switching off genes that express themselves as disease. Such may be an explanation for spontaneous remissions (that is diseases disappearing with no medical or scientific understanding as to how that happened). The fields of psychoneuroimmunology and psychophysiology have been around for at least 20 years and have ample evidence of the mind-body connection.

Recently, a student in the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work introduced me to something similar that sounded like psychological DNA to me. The term is transgenerational trauma. The understanding is that the effects of severe trauma is passed on to child and grandchild. Often parents who were traumatized as children had children who had symptoms of having been traumatized. It was thought that it was because of poor parenting skills. It is now believed that it may be epigenetically transmitted. That is, symptoms of trauma arise from nongenetic influences on gene expression. Think of the implications!

This could be an explanation for things like generalized anxiety disorder in which a person feels anxious for no apparent reason. A child is fearful, has nightmares and monsters under the bed. (The child is then actually traumatized by being scolded and sent back into the bedroom.) Is it possible that some parents have been suspected of child abuse because the child expresses symptoms of having been abused but had not themselves been abused?

So why do I write this when I have so little information or knowledge. It is because it calls me to have more compassion for those experiencing the symptoms, especially to have compassion for children who have explainable fears and terrors. Also, I would say, have compassion for yourself, since your fears may not be your own. There are processes for helping people overcome the effects of trauma, even if they don’t know what the trauma was. Some energy workers and body workers can help release the grip of symptoms. Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioners have skills in working to relieve such symptoms without requiring any information about their cause or genesis.

There is connectedness that exists not only within but among human beings. There is the mind-body connection within us. And now we are discovering that the connection is also among us. There is a line in a Native American chant that says, “What I am is holy, holy are we. Body, thoughts, emotions connecting you and me. Great Spirit circles all around me.” We are connected.

Pregnancy – Infertility and NLP

“Oh, you want to get pregnant; you should go see Larry.” Ba dum dum!infertility-pregnancy

Vince Lasorso, a friend and colleague recently told me this is his first response to women who request help in conceiving a child or carrying it to term. And then he says, “Maybe I should rephrase that. Larry has had success in helping women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive and have children.”

It started over 20 years ago, when a young woman confided to Vince that she had undergone several IVF treatments without successfully carrying to term. The doctors could find no physiological reason for this. Vince from Whatever Works Wellness Center and White Willow School of Tai Chi, knew of my NLP practice and suggested she call me for an appointment. We met for a few sessions in which we discovered a psychological issue that appeared significant and was easily addressed. She had another procedure, conceived and gave birth to a daughter, whom she and her husband named Grace.

Within weeks after the birth, mom referred another woman who she had met in a women’s support group. In the NLP sessions with this second woman, we discovered a very different kind of psychological barrier which again was as easily addressed. She gave birth to triplets.

And then yet another referral came from the mother of Grace. The next woman gave birth to twins. All of these women had struggled for some time trying to conceive with the best medicine of the day. I saw each of them for a small number of sessions and they each felt strongly that their work with me was the difference that made the difference in a successful pregnancy and birth.

Slow forward twenty-one years to when Grace is now a young adult. Her mom, the first woman who came to me for issues of infertility, called and brought me up to date on her life. And then mentioned that she had a friend who lives out of state but is having the same kind of problem around conceiving. Could I help? Absolutely. The friend called and it happened that the next weekend she was coming to Ohio, and so we were able to have a face-to-face session that included her husband. And we agreed to continue to meet via live video sessions. We had five sessions about a week apart and then off she went for another IVF procedure. I didn’t hear anything from her for some of time, but then an email arrived reporting that she was four weeks pregnant and she just knew she was carrying twins because she wanted twins. Two weeks later she called with the exciting news. She was indeed pregnant with twins.

Pregnancy factors other than fertility treatments

So, why am I reporting this? It is because each of these situations represent examples of how mind-body-spirit are intricately connected. For each of these women, there were internal thoughts or feelings that they (and I) believe were impacting their capacity to conceive and carry to term. I am not saying that this is true for all couples who have difficulty conceiving. But these four women are convinced that their work with mind and spirit was a big piece of the solution to having a healthy baby.

The evidence is mounting that thoughts, thought patterns, mental and spiritual states are involved in wellness and healing. We now know that trauma even changes DNA, and is handed down for two to three generations. More and more physicians are becoming aware that wellness and healing is a process that involves the whole person. Patient intuition and beliefs have an enormous impact on protocol outcomes. This became crystal clear to me in the 1990’s when I was facilitating a cancer support group. Those people used their intuition, imagination and beliefs to get the best possible treatment outcomes. Their physicians explained protocols but the person made choices. Many of them became experts on the nature of the disease and certainly of their bodies. Not all fully recovered, but all had fewer unwanted effects of treatment and all had a higher than normal quality of life during the course of treatment.

I should state that I am not saying that NLP will “cure” all physical difficulties. But I believe it can be an important part of being resilient not only in times of challenge, but also in times of opportunity.  One’s beliefs and attitudes influence health, illness, treatment, and the course of recovery.

My encouragement for you: Be aware of your mental and spiritual state, especially during times of physical distress. What do you believe about yourself, your physician and treatment? What do you believe about the physical problem itself? If those beliefs are limiting, if they create hopelessness or fear rather than hope and confidence, talk to someone who can help you change those beliefs.

Back Pain: What You Need to Know

If you don’t have back pain, someone close to you does. One half of all working Americans report back pain. And 80% of us will struggle with back pain at some point in their life.1 Most people will get better quickly, yet a few will develop into a chronic pain pattern.

As an individual who had her own significant back injury with a challenging recovery, I am motivated to spread the good news of how I got better. As a practitioner who sees people diagnosed with Failed Back Syndrome, which means the surgery didn’t work as well as planned, I have a passion for helping people return to healthy function, surgery or not. As someone who saw a friend paralyzed from the waist down after a spinal fusion surgery and with spinal fusion surgeries on the rise, I believe it is very important to prevent this surgery whenever possible. In my next article, I am going to dive into the keys for a healthy back. First, we need some important research-based fact finding.

Learn about the Better Back 12-week program

You have an amazing ability to get better. Most people “heal” themselves every day from all kinds of assaults to the system. A small percentage of people will struggle with back pain for more than twelve weeks and be classified with chronic back pain. In these cases, the body is overwhelmed and needs some help getting “back on track.” Even with severe back pain, I have seen significant improvements for the majority of people once the right approach is in place.

Causes are more unknown than known. It is popular to say the reason someone has back pain is poor core strength, bad alignment or suboptimal posture. See any rehab professional, personal trainer or body worker and you will likely get one of these reasons as the cause for your back pain. This makes little sense from a larger view. I see people with incredible core strength that have back pain. I see people with great posture who have back pain. And I see people with horrible alignment or poor alignment but no back pain. Working with a biomechanical lens is helpful, but when it is the only lens, the results may be limited.

MRI or x-ray results are misleading. “When it comes to diagnosing most back pain, MRI machines are at least as useless as Monty Python’s medical machinery that goes ‘bing.’” offers Paul Ingraham2 in a sentence I wish I had written. Studies show that structural deformities are poorly correlated with pain.3
A good percentage of people with herniated discs, bulging discs, scoliosis, and even stenosis walk around without pain. And not all people with back pain have a structural issue.4 That is enough to make many people scratch their head. Surely there must be a clear structural issue that causes back pain! To make matters worse, getting an MRI leads to more procedures and incorrect conclusions about next steps including ineffective or unnecessary surgeries.5

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider structural realities in the equation, but it does mean we should refrain from deciding we are doomed to have pain because of something found in the spine. This simply isn’t true.

Learn about the Better Back 12-week program

Surgery is not better.
In comparing spinal fusion as a treatment to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), CBT came out ahead. Research on physical therapy shows similar results.6 Given the potential side effects of surgery (which can include nerve damage, paralysis or more surgeries) it seems it should be avoided whenever possible. Is surgery sometimes mandatory? Yes. Is it a VASTLY overused as a solution? Yes.

Your Brain Has a Lot to Do With Your Pain
Any approach to chronic back pain that doesn’t include how your brain is producing pain is missing something. This deserves an entire article all of its own. And I can’t recommend enough the first couple of chapters of The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, M.D. to get a good understanding of this topic without blaming yourself or thinking anyone is saying it is all in your head if you have chronic pain.

A multidisciplinary approach including biopsychosocial interventions has been shown to be most promising.7 Chronic back pain can be quite debilitating. And still, the majority of people that I see do get better even when the problem has been present for many years. There is ample reason to have hope that you can live with more comfort and less pain. Maybe you feel you have tried everything there is to try. I don’t think so. So do read the next article coming soon: Mysteries to a Healthy Back Revealed.

 


1 2. Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.

2 Ingraham, P. MRI and X-Ray Often Worse than Useless for Back Pain, updated October 17 2016 (first published 2007), accessed 12/08/16.

3 Deyo RA, Weinstein DO. Low Back Pain. N Engl J Med. 2001 Feb;344(5):363–70.

4 Brinjikji W, Luetmer PH, Comstock B, et al. Systematic Literature Review of Imaging Features of Spinal Degeneration in Asymptomatic Populations. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015 Apr;36(4):811–6.

5 Webster BS, Bauer AZ, Choi Y, Cifuentes M, Pransky GS. Iatrogenic consequences of early magnetic resonance imaging in acute, work-related, disabling low back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2013 Oct;38(22):1939–

6 Mirza, S, Deyo, R, et al. Systematic Review of Randomized Trials Comparing Lumbar Fusion Surgery to Nonoperative Care for Treatment of Chronic Back Pain Spine 2007 Apr 1:32(7):816-823.

7 Guzmán J, Esmail R, Karjalainen K, Malmivaara A et al. Multidisciplinary rehabilitation for chronic low back pain: systematic review BMJ 2001; 322:1511

7 Haiku and a Couplet for a Feldenkrais Gathering

 

Guest post by Lawrence R K Becker

Feldenkrais Party:

I’ll pretend I’m a poet

With talent to burn.

___

Julie made some prints.

One, stones stacked like vertebrae:

Just had to buy it!

___

Website photo shoot.

Camera scrutinizes,

But Arlene just smiles.

__

Other bourbon friends

Can’t get me to do as much

Good as Larry can.

__

Years of Feldenkrais.

Learning to trust Cynthia

Has been a good choice.

__

Counselor Carol,

On Wednesdays, watches the fish

Keep clients’ secrets.

__

Football playoff time.

How kind, our hosts, to schedule

On Pro Bowl Sunday.

__

The rest of you, watch what you say,

Or you’ll be in a poem some day.