1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
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This changed everything for me. If you are in pain, pls read:

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by avik, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    I am glad this is helping
  2. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member


    Could you explain more regarding what accepting really looks like in the moment. I've been familiar with Claire Weekes for years, and every day I try to apply her techniques. It all makes sense to me, but I never seem to get anywhere. I face down the symptoms, try to accept, but they never go anywhere.

    For example, I'll have schoolwork to do. I'll sit at a coffee shop with my computer and say to myself that I'll allow whatever feelings - anxiety, pain, tension - to come up and do what they will. But every time it breaks me. The pain, the anxiety build and build. I'll try my damnedest to keep doing what I need to do and not give up. Then I go a home a wreck, torn to shreds by the pain and anxiety. Then I wake up the next day and try again.

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  3. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Or perhaps I'm struggling to understand the difference between enduring and accepting. Or maybe I'm too anxious for the symptoms to stop and watching them too carefully. I don't know.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Accepting requires the suspension of judgement. One looks at the sensations with curiosity and interest, but then adopts a "so what" attitude.
    Enduring is what follows the judgement that these sensations are negative. One looks at the sensations as horrible, punishment, with a "why me" attitude.

    Accepting takes practice, but is not as impossible as it sounds.

    Sorry you are still struggling, eskimo. I'm glad you are hanging in there and still trying this approach. You will have a breakthrough one of these days.
    eskimoeskimo and Tennis Tom like this.
  5. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    I disagree. I've been trying for 8 years.

    I guess I understand in in principle. But in practice, I'm lost. The truth is that I've never hated anything as much as I hate the feeling in my neck, I've never wanted anything to stop as much as the feeling in my neck, and I've never been afraid of anything as much as I am afraid of the feeling in my neck. How do I practice not feeling that way? It always feels like pretending.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2016
  6. MrRage

    MrRage Peer Supporter

    Excellent post, avik! I applied what I learned from your post and have enjoyed great success.
    eskimoeskimo likes this.
  7. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    MrRage, If you have a minute, would you mind elaborating a bit on how that worked for you? What was it really like in real time? I'm confused.
  8. MrRage

    MrRage Peer Supporter

    avik hammered home the message to try not to resist pain or anxiety and instead to allow these symptoms to manifest. This is similar in many ways to Claire Weeke's approach to dealing with anxiety. From months of experience, I can say that the best way to deal with TMS pain is to simply "relax" into it. Whenever I am successful at "relaxing" myself into the pain or anxiety or depression, my perception begins to change and the pain diminishes. I have noticed that when pain starts coming up, I tend to think and feel 'hopelessness' and engage in 'catastrophic thinking' and experience feelings of bitterness among other things. I try to do two things: relax and observe. At the beginning stages of my recovery I had to also be mindful of the TMS diagnosis and mechanism because I hadn't fully absorbed the knowledge. I still visit this site to refresh myself because the brain is always trying to deceive.

    When I 'observe' the pain, I merely recognize its presence and try not to think anything about it. Instead, I observe the phenomenon in the 'present' and also pay attention to my breathing. If I am successful at calming myself down and 'relaxing and observing' then the pain generally subsides and my attention will shift other things.

    I am not always immediately successful nor am I always mindful to relax into the pain.

    I still have issues with TMS but it is far less intrusive in my life than it once was.
    gailnyc, avik, douggie and 2 others like this.
  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle


    Here's some practical suggestions on acceptance. I found that approaching painful sensations with curiosity worked best for me. I thought about what shape, color, texture, etc. my pain had. I noticed where the edges were and how it moved, vibrated, etc. This "noticing" of it allowed me to distance myself from it. It became this "thing" in my body that I no longer identified with and reacted to.

    Acceptance turns out to be one of the most helpful attitudes to bring to mindfulness. Acceptance means perceiving your experience and simply acknowledging it rather than judging it as good or bad. For some people, the word ‘acceptance’ is off-putting – replace it with the word ‘acknowledgement,’ if you prefer.

    Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. This doesn’t mean, ‘If you think you can’t do something, accept it’ – that would be giving up rather than accepting. Acceptance refers to your experience from moment to moment.

    For example, when you feel pain, whether it’s physical, such as a painful shoulder, or mental, such as depression or anxiety, the natural reaction is to try to avoid feeling the pain. This seems very sensible because the sensation of physical or mental pain is unpleasant. You ignore it, distract yourself, or perhaps even go so far as turning to recreational drugs or alcohol to numb the discomfort.

    This avoidance may work in the immediate short term, but before long, avoidance fails in the mental and emotional realm.

    You still feel the pain, but on top of that, you feel the emotional hurt and struggle with the pain itself. Buddha called this the ‘second arrow.’ If a warrior is injured by an arrow and unleashes A thought like ‘why did this happen to me,’ that’s a ‘second arrow.’

    You may inflict this on yourself each time you feel some form of pain or even just a bit of discomfort, rather than accepting what has happened and taking the next step. Avoidance – running away – is an aspect of the ‘second arrow’ and compounds the suffering. Acceptance means stopping fighting with your moment-to-moment experience. Acceptance removes that second arrow of blame, criticism or denial.

    Perhaps you sit down to meditate and feel bombarded by thoughts dragging you away again and again. If you don’t accept the fact that your mind likes thinking, you become more and more frustrated, upset and annoyed with yourself. You want to focus on the meditation but just can’t.

    In the above example:

    • First arrow – lots of thoughts entering your mind during meditation.

    • Second arrow – not accepting that thoughts are bound to come up in meditation. Criticizing yourself for having too many thoughts.

    • Solution – to acknowledge and accept that thoughts are part and parcel of meditation. You can do this by gently saying to yourself ‘thinking is happening’ or ‘it’s natural to think’ or simply labeling it as ‘thinking…thinking.’
    By acknowledging the feeling, thought or sensation and going into it, the experience changes. Even with physical pain, try experimenting by actually feeling it. Research has found that the pain reduces. But remember, you’re not acknowledging it to get rid of the feeling. That’s not acceptance. You need to acknowledge the sensation, feeling or thought without trying to change it at all. Pure acceptance of it, just as it is.

    One way to relax into the discomfort is by courageously turning to the sensation of discomfort, and simultaneously feeling the sensation of your own breath. With each out-breath, allow yourself to move closer and soften the tension around the discomfort.

    If all this acceptance or acknowledgement of your pain seems impossible, just try getting a sense of it and make the tiniest step towards it. The smallest step towards acceptance can set up a chain of events ultimately leading towards transformation. Any tiny amount of acceptance is better than none at all.

    Another aspect of acceptance is to come to terms with your current situation. If you’re lost, even if you have a map of where you want to get to, you have no hope of getting there, if you don’t know where you are to start with.

    You need to know and accept where you are before you can begin working out how to get to where you want to be. Paradoxically, acceptance is the first step for any radical change. If you don’t acknowledge where you are and what’s currently happening, you can’t move on appropriately from that point.

    Here are some ways you can try to cultivate acceptance:

    • Gently state the label of the experience you aren’t accepting. For example, if you’re not accepting that you’re angry, state in your mind, to yourself, ‘I’m feeling angry at the moment… I’m feeling angry.’ In this way, you begin to acknowledge your feeling.

    • Notice which part of your body feels tense and imagine your breath going into and out of the area of tightness. As you breathe in and out, say to yourself, ‘It’s okay. It’s already here… It’s already here.’

    • Consider how much you accept or acknowledge your current thoughts/feelings/sensation on a scale of 1 to 10. Ask yourself what you need to do to increase your acceptance by 1, and then do it as best you can.

    • Become really curious about your experience. Consider: ‘Where did this feeling come from? Where do I feel it? What’s interesting about it?’ In this way, the curiosity leads you to a little more acceptance.
    In the realm of emotions, the quickest way to get from A to B isn’t to try and force yourself to get to B, but to accept A. Wholehearted acceptance leads to change automatically.
    gailnyc, Abbo and eskimoeskimo like this.
  10. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thanks for elaborating MrRage. I try to apply these techniques, but usually end up confused and in a miserable puddle of pain and anxiety. On an intuitive level, this prescription makes sense... so I keep trying. It's always helpful, and encouraging, to hear it explained again in slightly different terms. Something's gotta give.
  11. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thank you Ellen. You must get sick of my constantly asking the same questions! I really appreciate your patience and perpetual willingness to try to help me. If I ever get out of this mess, I hope to pay your kindness forward to the other strugglers and stragglers.
  12. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Your struggles are similar to mine, and I'm still working on acceptance everyday. Somehow I finally got it with regard to pain, so I wish I could articulate better how I did it. But I'm still working on accepting anxiety and insomnia. I'm having a harder time with these types of TMS for some reason. Every time I try to explain something to someone else, it helps me clarify it for myself.

    I'm just glad you haven't given up yet. I admire your persistence. One of these days you will write a success story.
  13. MrRage

    MrRage Peer Supporter

    Me too. Nothing works every time and this syndrome is very tricky. I just spent the last hour depressed out of my mind and finally got the willpower to get up and can feel more determination. Let me formulate it this way: Before discovering Sarno, I estimate that 11/16 of the time I was awake was spent dealing with, thinking about, or suffering from TMS pain and TMS equivalents like depression and anxiety. Nowadays, I only spend about 3/16 of my time awake dealing with TMS. That is a remarkable improvement! But I need more time to figure out this beast.

    One thing I believe: If something isn't working, try something new. Then try what you were doing before and see if it starts to work.

    Whatever a TMS patient does, it will be productive, as long as he understands that the process is rooted in the unconscious.

    My main problem now is dealing with the 'mental' aspects and also dealing with exercise intolerance. Before discovering Sarno, I had pain in my back, pain in my neck, pain in my shoulders, pain in my urethra, pain in pelvic floor, pain in my knees, pain in my wrists, and sometimes pain in my elbows. I also had horrible pain in my facial muscles and horrible migraine headaches. From the time I was 16 to the time when I was 18, I had to deal with urinary frequency. It was horrible!

    I have made an enormous amount of progress since late March of this year.

    My belief is that the reason it is hard to communicate precisely what to do is because language is always going to be vague and imprecise in describing a phenomenon. What is going on with TMS mostly goes on at the 'non-verbal' level. Dr. Sarno himself said called recovery a two-way street meaning that the healer must provide knowledge about the mechanism and the patient must use these tools to figure his way out of the problems.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
    eskimoeskimo and Ellen like this.
  14. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thanks MrRage. It really does help to hear people describe how they try to navigate this thing. Wishing you ever more success.
  15. bennet

    bennet Peer Supporter

    Hi! I was away from the forum a while because I was obsessing too much about pain symptoms and I needed a break.

    Overall I am doing better - thanks for asking! (It looks like you asked on my birthday, too!)

    I'm not magically, 100%, effortlessly cured. My symptoms aren't totally gone, but they are definitely milder and more manageable. I'm ok with the slow, steady recovery and I'm not too worried these days about how long pain will last or how horrible it will be (that has taken a lot of work). Really it has been a process of changing how I think about pain, which takes time to learn. I've had to be very patient and forgiving with myself.

    I've these more serious TMS symptoms for two years: 1 year of lower back/hip pain, and then one year of neck/shoulder pain that started as awful headaches. I still get very uncomfortable tension in my shoulders, jaw, and ringing ears, but it isn't prohibitive. I can sleep and go to work, when at first my symptoms were really impacting those things. I also have depression and anxiety, and I see a therapist for support in managing all this.

    Claire Weekes' books have helped me see how important it is to practice accepting the pain in the moment. The more you resist it, the more you feed it. It's a very scary cycle and it's hard to break out of. Throughout the day I take moments to rest my awareness on any physical or emotional discomfort, and to let it be there without fighting it. I practice that every time I feel myself getting upset about pain. I let it be, and remind myself that I'm safe and ok. It's not easy, but it becomes more natural with practice. If I can come to a place where pain is ok, then it doesn't matter if it's there or not. But by then, it usually just goes away, because my fear isn't feeding it any more. The trick is to let go of that as the end goal. In addition to these quick check-ins throughout the day, I also practice mediation at least once a day for 5-30 minutes, and I try to get some exercise like a walk, some cardio or some weight machines at the gym (something new I've started this year, to build my confidence a bit).
    brendan537 and eskimoeskimo like this.
  16. bennet

    bennet Peer Supporter


    Acceptance of pain is really hard, and I'm sure for some people it is harder than others. I'm not saying that to discourage you, but to affirm that you're really, really trying.

    I have a few ideas for you - I hope something here helps you. In my journey I feel like I am just picking up little helpful pieces along the way. The more I pick up, the more it starts to come together.

    1) If you have the ability to access podcasts, try listening to the podcast "Tara Brach". She is a psychologist and meditator. The podcast has MANY episodes and I have started listening to them from the beginning. The first five or so episodes have been just filled with wisdom relevant to people struggling with TMS. They even address the practice of acceptance specifically. I would really, really recommend trying to listen to a few all the way through, and see if anything feels useful to you. They are long, but so valuable that I make chunks of time to listen to them on the train on the way to work, or while I'm making food.

    2) Google Vidyamala Burch and find some interviews with her. She also has excellent insight into using mindfulness to alleviate chronic pain.

    3) Meditation has been one of my major breakthroughs. There are so many different ways to meditate that there is bound to be something that can help you. Be patient with yourself, try different techniques, and be willing to try again later if you feel too frustrated. If you're not familiar with meditation, I really recommend trying the app InsightTimer. You can also just start poking around YouTube to try different guided meditations. I think body scans are a good technique to start with for people with physical pain-- it's where I started.

    4) If you aren't already, and have the ability to do so, start talking with a therapist for extra support. You're trying to do some very hard work.
    Ellen, eskimoeskimo and brendan537 like this.
  17. ladyofthelake

    ladyofthelake Peer Supporter

    Yes! I've only "got" this in the last week. And YES! this is a great description of what works. I find I can even invite the pain to increase...."come on, you need to hurt, ok you can do more!" Ha! It is a trick because that causes it to fade away.
  18. MrRage

    MrRage Peer Supporter

    Isn't it funny how this process works? I was recently relapsing a bit and just couldn't get into the right frame of mind to accept the pain. I started focusing on my emotions during an intense episode of pain and definitely noticed for the first time that I was having very intense emotional feelings, possibly a reaction to the pain or possibly as a reaction to something else.

    I was able to get into the right frame of mind, accepted the pain, and as soon as my attitude changed, so too did the intensity of the pain.

    If there is a setback, try not to let it get to your head. It is good to really let this recovery process sink into your brain so that you'll be mindful of TMS even in the worst of times.
    bennet and Ellen like this.
  19. 0208mad

    0208mad Peer Supporter

    Hi I am new to this site I have had burning tingling awful sensitivity to clothing for the last two years. Been throughly examined all clear. No neurological problems. Seen five neurologists all agreed it was anxiety based.
    BUT last year for a good six weeks I had a really good spell it actually started to go. This good spell started after I shouted at my synptoms "Go ahead burn tingle sting do what the hell you like YOU WILL NOT GET TO ME!!!!" and di you know what they actually started to go. However I didn't know about TMS then and as my symptoms were going I started to get over confident and cut my meds and then the pain returned. But you know what after reading a bout TMS I really wish I had stuck it out because it fits with what I've read. I'm back in pain but I am going to take control. I've done it before and I can do it again !!!
  20. Marytabby

    Marytabby Peer Supporter

    Hi Avik, great book indeed. THanks for suggesting it because it helped me with my palpitations.

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