Got Pain? Heal your Emotions – Part 2

This is Part 2 of my series of articles exploring the connection between emotional healing and physical healing.

Check out Part 1 if you missed it.

My Story – Healing Pain/Frozen Shoulder

In 2014 had a life changing experience of healing my own physical pain.

I had been experiencing severe shoulder pain for months. Despite trying many different treatments and seeing many different doctors and healing practitioners, the pain was worse than ever in the weeks right before I was scheduled for a 10-day Vipassana meditation course.

Right before the course, my doctors diagnosed frozen shoulder and advised that I not attend the course because keeping my shoulder immobile while meditating would cause more pain and more problems.

I ignored that advice.

My pain sensations were excruciating for the first 4 days. Vipassana meditation teaches a specific technique that works with sensations in the body. I kept patient and persistent with the meditation technique.

By the 5th day, I was amazed to find my pain was no longer there.

Poof. Gone. No more shoulder pain. No more frozen shoulder. And it never came back. And no doctor could ever explain why.

The human mind is where anxiety starts, and where emotions start (the limbic system is the part of the brain regulating emotions), and where pain starts.

Quieting my mind and my emotions, released the pain from my body.

7 Types of Pain Often Linked to Emotions

• Headaches and migraines
• Neck and shoulder pain
• Back pain
• Stomach pain
• Menstrual pain
• Pain in the extremities
• Widespread pain including fibromyalgia

* Source: Kim Saeed, Author, Researcher, Educator

Thoughts ⇒ Emotions ⇒ Pain

Remember that neuroscience research shows that the same neural circuity is activated when you experience physical pain as when you experience emotional pain. 

Because the neural circuitry is shared, when either type of pain is experienced your brain has the same chemical response as well. This chemical response is primarily excess release of stress hormones (mainly excess cortisol and adrenaline known to cause inflammation as well as anxiety).

Dr. David Hanscom, MD and author of “Back in Control” believes the primary cause of chronic pain is Unconstructive Repetitive Thoughts (URTs).

He concludes that these Unconstructive Repetitive Thoughts cause the sustained release of those stress hormones which cause physical pain.

What You Can Do

Chronic pain is one of the most difficult things to deal with. It can make you feel very out of control.

One of the hardest parts about chronic pain is that often no one can find the specific source of the pain, or a concrete explanation. Friends, family and even doctors don’t believe you or tell you it’s all in your head.

So, what to do?

#1 – Learn about your emotions and emotional healing

In addition to seeking physical pain relief or treatment, this may be the time to explore how your emotions may be contributing to your physical pain.

Sometimes that means looking at your current emotional state and the emotionally challenging or stressful things in your life right now.

Sometimes it means looking at past emotional experiences that have not been dealt with (recent ones or even adverse childhood experiences).

Sometimes it means looking at unhappiness in current relationships – a big cause of emotional and physical pain.

#2 – Change your thinking with CBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented process focused on problem-solving. Through the process, you learn to understand and manage your thinking (cognitive), feelings (emotions), and actions (behavior).

CBT can help people feel more in control of their pain, and teach new coping skills. It can help you change the way you view your pain and help you function better, with pain interfering less with your quality of life.

Changes in your thoughts actually change the chemical response in your brain (cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin) that can make pain worse. When you think better, you will feel better. 

In multiple ways, changing your thinking process can help you regain more control of your life despite the pain.

#3 – Learn Mindfulness

Mindfulness research shows that it can help you cope with pain by:

• Decreasing repetitive thinking and rumination about pain
• Decreasing emotional upset about the pain
• Increasing a sense of acceptance of the present moment
• Increasing the relaxation response and decreasing stress