When “I” becomes “we,” illness becomes wellness.
– Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati
For the past ten months, I was just like many of the clients that I see; I suffered from back pain. As a massage therapist, I was helping others with their back pain and trying to help myself at the same time. Several times, I thought it was the physical work as a therapist that was causing my pain.
Dr. Ben Benjamin, author of “Listen to your Pain,” says, “Pain is a signal that something is wrong. If it is mild and disappears quickly, it’s probably nothing to worry about. However, if the pain is severe, or persists over a week, your body is trying to tell you something. Take it seriously!” If you catch the injury early, it makes it easier to heal. However, if you wait and not listen to the body’s early warning signs, you may have pain for months or years. In cases of continuing severe pain, always see a doctor.
I have a new sense of compassion for my clients because I was one of them. I received massage therapy two to three times a month. My back pain would get better and then come back. I decided to explore different ways to relieve my back pain.
During my journey to healing my back, I found that pain can originate from the energy body (chakras) and emotions (psychogenic pain). According to Benjamin, muscle tension is often “triggered by increased life pressures which add to an overload of emotional stress to the nervous system.” When the emotions are unbalanced, the chakras are unbalanced too.
Looking back ten months ago, I can see that the stress of my father’s Alzheimer’s Disease has taken a toll on me. After seven ER visits and hospitalization for my dad, my chakras were off balance for sure. And then add the stress of my mother falling apart at the seams. I thought I was strong enough to handle it all, but my body shouted a different tale.
I decided to balance my heart chakra. Every morning after I woke up, I placed my hands on my heart chakra. I felt the universal energy vibrating to heal my heart, to heal my back pain. Love and compassion softened my body and mind.
For the last month, I have had no back pain. I used an integrative approach to my back pain. In the future, integrative therapies will be utilized for all human dysfunction. Humans will learn to be resourceful. There is not just one therapy that will work for all conditions. We will have a toolbox of treatments.
Here is a list of treatments/modifications that I used to heal my back pain:
Massage: Massage makes me feel great! After each massage, I feel a full integration of my whole body. Massage relieves stress and revitalizes every cell in the body.
Yoga: Yoga stretches and lengthens the muscles in the body. The most helpful yoga poses for back pain are:
Uttanasana (foreword fold):
Salamba Sarvangasansa (shoulder stand – get assistance from an experienced yoga teacher):
Halasana (plough pose – get assistance from an experienced yoga teacher):
Janu Sirsasana (foreword fold with one leg straight, and one leg bent):
Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog):
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose with a bench):
Posture: I watched how I sat and stood. I made sure that I did not bend my back, and I lifted heavy items with my legs.
Exercise: Exercise strengthens muscles. Exercise can be great for back pain as long as it’s low impact (like walking, biking, and swimming).
Acupuncture/Acupressure: I received acupuncture and gave myself acupressure. Acupuncture stimulates the meridians in the body, and this facilitates healing. Acupuncture and acupressure are energy based systems.
Reiki: I gave myself Reiki treatments each morning. The gentle universal energy healed my emotional body.
Sleep position: Sleeping on my stomach (prone position), puts stress on my back. I changed to sleeping on my sides and on my back.
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. – Anatole France
When I was in India in 2015, my love for animals sang loudly. I arrived in India around one in the morning. Smog and wild dogs welcomed my colleagues and me. My professor could tell that I wanted to pet the dogs, but she gave me a strict warning not to touch any dogs while in India.
I saw a lot of dogs and puppies in India. Many were thin and starving. Several litters of puppies walked around with abandon. My heart went out to each dog. I wish I could do more to help them.
I wanted to touch them, hold them, and care for them. They reminded me of my dog back at home. I love all animals fiercely, especially dogs.
Each dog was in survival mode. They looked through garbage and begged for food from people on the streets. I realize now that India can barely take care of its people much less the animals.
I took a lot of pictures when I was in India. However, I only took three pictures of dogs (two of them are included with this article). I could not capture their desolate state. I did not want to relive their suffering. Many times I just had to look away when I saw a sick or injured dog. I felt powerless and looking away is all I could do.
My heart sings for the wild dogs of India. I wish the people of India would sing to their dogs like they sing for their cows. Cows are sacred; dogs are not. Cows are sacred because they give milk, till the fields, and cow dung is a source of fuel and fertilizer. Dogs only give love and companionship. They have a way of opening one’s heart. The wild dogs of India suffer because the people of India suffer. Once there is more stability in India (if there ever will be), the people will recognize the love and beauty of their dogs.
Doorway Meditation, by Penney Peirce
The next time you approach a doorway, use it as an opportunity to set your intention. Every door is a passage between experiences, between dimensions of awareness. As you enter the arch of a doorway, pause a moment. Enter the feminine mind and the warrior’s attention. Let yourself feel the subtle difference between the space you are leaving and the space you are about to enter. Is there a difference in height? Spaciousness? Color? Temperature? Comfort? What was your consciousness like while you were in the space you are now leaving? Feel into the new space. Prepare to enter the new state of awareness, to welcome whatever it holds for you. When the moment is right, step through.
“Keep running love and trust through your body. Soon even your cells will believe this is their true nature.”
– Penney Peirce