For those of you who are interested in self-healing or the potential that the mind has to change the body, this short book is a must-read. In 2004, I felt my body had given up on me. No health practicioners could help. I had experienced years of crippling back pain, which had left me often walking with a cane and unable to sit for more than a few minutes, and also excruciating eye pain which took away part of my sight for many days. Luckily when I was near my wit's end I found the right information, applied the right techniques, and made a full recovery.
Here, I describe the exact process and the techniques that I used. This little book is a natural companion to the works of Dr John Sarno, Norman Cousins and Fred Amir as it gives a practical illustration of mindbody healing. Below are some of the first pages. The full chronicle is available as a download for 3.50 euros by clicking the green button next to the book description (or at the bottom of the page if you are using a smartphone).
Note: This book is not affiliated with any of the aforementioned authors.
Please note that if you are experiencing pain, it is essential to get a medical diagnosis. This chronicle is not meant to replace medical attention; It merely describes how I managed to cure my condition.
Background and Diagnosis
In mindbody healing, looking at the person as a whole is important. Here is some information about me and the condition that had me in pain for years. All will be expanded on during the course of the chronicle.
I was born in Norway of a Jamaican mother and Norwegian father, and grew up mostly in Canada. I did an honours degree in psychology but after graduation worked primarily as a musician. During the time described in this booklet I was living in Tokyo, Japan, far from my parents, brother and young daughter. In terms of character, I have always loved creative pursuits and being with people. I have often been referred to as a "nice" guy, although I'm sure not everyone would agree, as I am quite rebellious in my own way.
I had had back problems since around 1988. Until around 2002 they were intermittent and although I would have to rest in bed for a day or two they would usually go away and only come back a few months later. In the spring of 2002 they came back and stayed. I was then diagnosed with 2 herniated spinal discs and degenerative disc disease. Within a few months I had to quit a teaching job that had been bringing in half my salary, was walking very slowly with a cane and could only sit down for a few short minutes at a time. My life consisted of walking slowly for a few minutes a few times a day or lying down. The pain was constant although the intensity varied. Sometimes it was an ache and others I was in full blown spasm, lying in bed trying not to move at all.
In trying to relieve my pain (I was told that there was no cure for the disc degeneration), I tried medical doctors and pain killers, acupuncture, chiropractic, muscle training, osteopathy, yoga, faith and energy healing. Although I did have some temporary relief with almost all of the treatments, nothing lasted. The pain just kept coming back. At one point I had a lull in back pain for a few days and then suddenly my right eye became red, inflamed and extremely painful. I lost most sight in the one eye; everything was blurred. It felt as though a knife was being jabbed into my eye for several days straight; No respite even when "sleeping". The ophthalmologist did not know what it was, so I tried homeopathy. In my first of several appointments with the homeopath, she asked me about anger and whether I thought I was repressing any. Not being aware of it, I just told her no. I was later to revisit this question. Once the eye pain had subsided, the back pain came back very strongly. I was just about ready to give up on ever being healthy when I found a little book. This is where the chronicle begins.
From that point, the eye began a slow but clear progression to normality. I continued to take the remedy and soon I was able to be under even the strongest sunlight - pain-free.
A few weeks later, after fully regaining sight in the eye, the buttock pain started again! Having gone through the hellish days with the eye, this was easier to handle. At least I could get out of the house. I had begun to feel that it would take a long time for me to get back to normal (if it was going to happen at all), and I just tried to deal with whatever level of health I had at any moment. That day, I could walk, so I went to a bookshop in Shinjuku. Browsing through the health section, a little book smothered between two large ones caught my eye. It was the TMS book I had seen months ago and put down - Healing back pain by Dr John E Sarno. After the dramatic results with Homeopathy, I was feeling cautiously open to new ideas. I picked it up and leafed through it. This time, I read slightly deeper than the first skim, months prior, and noticed the words “rage” and “anger” in a few passages. These were the very words that had come up time and time again in the homeopathy sessions. I could almost hear Maki sensei’s voice. I brought it over to Hana, who was checking out some magazines.
“What do you think? Should I spend the money?” being the stingy man I am.
“Of course. Why not” was her standard answer concerning these matters.
I thought about it for a while; then put it back. Next time, I thought. Returning empty handed, Hana glanced away from her magazine, looked me in the eye, shook her head in a somewhat motherly way and exhaled,
“Paul. Just buy the book.”
I took it home and started reading at once. Lying down on the floor of our sunny living room, I went over the words somewhat sceptically. Within a few pages however, every line was ringing with familiarity. He was writing about my symptoms, my experiences with specialists, my current situation, and even my personality. He was writing about me. He was writing for me.
I read with intense focus. It was though he was guiding me through my past and forward into a hopeful future. I could see or hear nothing more than the words. By the time I was half way through, I was pulsating with the possibility that this book, this man could actually help me.
The main idea was simple, but slightly unconventional. I actually pride myself on being only slightly conventional, so it may have been a little easier for me to accept than for some others. Dr Sarno, a professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine at the New York School of Medicine, had years of experience in treating back pain, and many other chronic pain related illnesses. He discovered that in almost all of theses cases, the pain was caused by restricted blood flow and therefore insufficient oxygen supply to those painful areas. This was caused not by some sort of physical abnormality, but by abnormal autonomic activity (the autonomic system being the brain’s subsystem that is responsible for regulating the body’s involuntary or “automatic” functions- e.g. breathing, blinking, blood circulation etc.) This abnormal activity is a result of emotional factors - subconscious mental tension. Deep, unacknowledged, unresolved anger coming from frustrations, anxieties, fears and complex emotional reactions to life were at the source of this often extreme and unremitting pain. Pain could manifest itself in various places in the body, sometimes switching from place to place. In certain cases causing the sufferer to lose confidence in their body as a whole.
The term for this phenomenon is TMS - tension myositis syndrome. At first, the term may sound daunting (as it had for me the first time I saw the book), but the relieving thing about the condition is that it is completely harmless - harmless in terms of permanent physical damage. The pain will disappear, and the body will go back to normal once the patient has fully accepted the emotional basis and rejected the physical diagnosis. It seems that the brain attempts to divert attention from the uncomfortable emotions by causing (often) extreme discomfort in the body. But once the person realizes this, and knows that there is no physical problem, the brain can no longer “use” the body in this way; the person cannot be “tricked” or made to worry about the body anymore. Once the attention is directed away from the physical and onto emotional issues, the person will be on the way to normal, pain-free functioning of the body. Actually, some of Sarno’s patients didn’t even really need to work through all of their deep feelings....