When we experience pain, we tend to build an inner wall around it, wether we’re aware of it or not. When this happens, the painful area gets cut off from the rest of our body and recovery gets slowed down. As soon as we recover the area, those walls usually degenerate, however the longer the injury or pain the more persistent our inner walls. Chances are, with this kind of inner wall, there will be repeated injury or pain in that area.
This is a difficult subject to talk about, if you haven’t experienced it yourself.
I’ve summed up this short exercise for my Fibromyalgia group where people have great results with this and many other exercises like this one. This is probably the simplest version, so you can try it, even though you haven’t had any previous practice neither with bodywork, nor yoga nor any other body-based approaches.
Here is how to do it
Take around 15 minutes per day during at least a month, if not longer, depending on the amount of pain you currently have.
- Look for a comfortable place you can lie down or sit in a laid back position, resting with no effort and mostly no pain, if possible.
- Set the alarm to 15 minutes
- Put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly and breathe during 5 breaths feeling your hand on your chest lift and lower with every breath. Just feeling the movement. Then put your attention on your other hand during 5 breaths and just feel how it moves up and down with every breath. 10 breaths
- Now start exhaling a little bit more air than you were breathing out before. Just a tiny little bit, you won’t stay without oxygen, so don’t worry. Every breath out is just slightly longer than the one before, on second, two seconds… You breathe in fully, when the impulse becomes overwhelming, and give it all the space it wants, letting the new air enter without boundaries. Chances are you actually get more oxygen now, than you had ever before, so watch for dizziness in this part of the exercise. If you feel any dizziness, stop and just breathe normally. Only go back to the exercise when you feel well enough. When we breathe out longer than usual, we exchange the last bit of stagnated air in the lower parts of our lungs which is depleted of oxygen, and we fill them with new air containing oxygen, which can lead to dizziness. 10 breaths
- Now we move our attention to the area we usually feel the most pain in. If you have more than one area, start with the most painful one. What you want to do is try to determine the area around the pain, where you still feel well enough. Not the painful area itself, but the area around where you still feel comfortable. We will call this the “comfort zone”. Now the “comfort zone” might actually lie in the area around your body, if the pain is close to the surface, lets say in your hand or elbow. That doesn’t matter, as humans we have a wonderful imagination, which will help us build the comfort zone around the area, even if it’s in the air. Try to “feel” the area around it, even when it’s in the air. This part of the exercise might take a while, so take your time.
- This is where the real work starts. Now that you got an idea about where your comfort zone is, you need your imagination for this next step. A lot of imagination! Feel the rhythm of your breathing, in and out, in and out… and imagine, how the comfort zone slowly and ever so slightly increases and decreases, increases and decreases… with every breath. Imagine the c-zone breathing, in and out, in and out. Increasing with every breath in, decreasing and relaxing with every breath out. The pain is in your foot? Ok, you might need a while longer, but you can do it. It’s just your imagination. And, by the way, this increases your brain plasticity, not a bad side-effect. 20 – 30 breaths (take your time with this one)
- This next step is an extension to step 6. What you want to do now is you want to slowly increase the movement of the comfort zone towards the inside, to where the pain is. Slowly and little by little the comfort zone invades the painful area, slowly and little by little it moves forward, and moves back and relaxes the area, and moves even further and relaxes, and moves forward… 10-20 breaths
- you even invite the painful area to go with the movement, to hop on to the rhythm of the breath. At least 20 breaths (stay as long as you feel it’s necessary).
- Sometimes it happens that as one pain subsides, the other catches our attention. So don’t worry, if now you feel pain in another area of your body, just do steps 5, 6, 7 and 8 again with the next zone.
So let’s sum it up and make it short:
- make yourself comfortable
- set the alarm to 15 minutes
- practice the art of focussing your attention, breathing and relaxing
- Feel out your comfort zone around one painful area
- Connect the c-zone with your breath
- Let the c-zone move forward into the pain – area
- Invite the pain area to move along with the rhythm of your breath
- Do the same with any other pain that catches your attention
This exercise doesn’t only help with pain-issues, it also helps with stress, attention, concentration and quieting the mind.
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