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Atheism and/or angnosticism and TMS recovery

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by If 6 was 9, Jul 8, 2020.

  1. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    I've been away from this for a while....I go through stages of becoming disillusioned with TMS, not to mention angry with it (maybe that's for another topic) but strangely enough I can never completely reject it.

    Having said all that, I'm still suffering from pain - lower back, where it always was, and now heel pain which may be part of arthritis or tendonitis. I've even had a modern treatment attempted on my achilles - withdrawing my own blood, extracting the platelets, then injecting them back inside the sheath on my enflamed tendon.

    Despite the purported success rate of this treatment, it didn't work, much to my unsurprise (which in a perverse way is almost a heartening endorsement of TMS being the cause).

    So now my question which may seem a bit of a non-sequitur: does being an atheist limit your ability to recover from TMS related pain and illnesses?

    Are there any success stories from people who don't believe in gods or spirituality or religion and just the plain science? I need to see those stories to heel, I mean, heal.
    plum likes this.
  2. miffybunny

    miffybunny Beloved Grand Eagle

    One can certainly get better without the spiritual dimension (although that never hurts either!) just from knowledge of how the brain works, addressing your own emotions and looking at negative thought patterns. Recovery is not this mystical thing. It's actually quite ordinary and banal. It just requires some work and trust in the process and trust in your own brain's ability to change. The reason spirituality can be quite helpful sometimes, is because it's just one more area of safety a person can have...a source of hope and faith and comfort. It's definitely not necessary to get back to your life though. That is really a matter of your own personal belief system. All that matters is what works for YOU.
  3. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    Thanks MiffyBunny, it’s sort of what I was hoping to hear. I can see how spirituality or belief in a deity could help, and I almost wish I did have that faith. It’s just that Steve O said in his book that he noticed that atheists had more trouble perhaps for that very reason (not having something external to put your faith in) and it put a seed of doubt in my mind. Also I do see a lot of people on this forum who do cite their faith as a help and was really just asking, are there examples where people who come from a non-faith/religious background have achieved the same result (ie. Successful recovery). Thanks for your reply.
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  4. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Bear in mind that SteveO doesn’t much care for the neurological explanations and due to the potentially woolly nature of TMS theory without the science, you’re kinda moored in a place where faith (or hope) become more of a necessity.

    If it helps, remember that Sarno considered this to be a knowledge cure, and I would leverage that by saying success rests on understanding. Once the information clicks and you get it the approach you take doesn’t really matter because the underlying mechanisms are the same.

    Remember too that religion, faith and spirituality are very different animals. There is no deity in Buddhism and the mindfulness practices inherent jibe incredibly well with the lean, clean scientific method. The abrahamic faiths lend themselves more to mystery and the fascinations of the unconscious. I’m pagan and love Nature from the seas to the stars and don’t mind which lens of perception people favour. Science is only describing Nature and Nature is Life, Death and everything in between. As Joseph Campbell would say, they are all Masks of God.

    Pluck out that seed of doubt and simply favour the neuropsychological approaches. There are plenty of people who have recovered without one iota of faith or spirituality but as @miffybunny says there is a great sense of safety and belonging in many traditions and sometimes we really need to rest upon something bigger than ourselves, something more expansive than the ego or personality. This may be some kind of higher self, expanded consciousness or freedom and these experiences tend to lean into a more spirituality based vocabulary, although one could speak in terms of brainwaves and such, yet beautiful emotional states like compassion and peace lose something in that translation.
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  5. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    Thanks Plum, you’re still just as eloquent, I see. Really lovely words.

    BTW I really wanted to correct the typo in “agnosticism” in the subject line of this thread but it wouldn’t let me! I’m sure it must mean something (probably that I’m a perfectionist)
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  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you :)

    I didn’t notice the typo but it’s actually rather endearing. I’m guessing perfectionism is in the mix and I try to ignore mistakes like that when I make them, just for the practice of letting it be (but it can be vexing).

    As for your less cosmic problem did you ever read any of the posts by @Enrique? Some great ponderings and a happy ending to be found there. He went through the mill with Achilles problems and as a triathlete his experience and take on TMS may be a goldmine for you. If you haven’t already explored Monte Hueftle’s work (referenced in the thread, then do. There’s a great free audio on his site which I found really helpful when I ready to throw in the towel*).

    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/im-a-tmser-triathlete.262/#post-1808 (I'm a TMSer Triathlete)

    That aside I used to have Achilles tendinitis and for the most part it’s gone, sometimes an early morning twinge but nothing that bothers me much. It essentially resolved after I’d been stretching for a while. I was doing a lot of Yin Yoga for the sheer pleasure of stretching rather than seeking to remedy anything and the settling down of the pain was a nice side benefit. Yin does work with the emotions and a subsequent release of tension so I put it down to that. On reflection it may also have been simply believing in the inherent wisdom of my body and trusting that all was well. More an act of self care over self cure.

    Edit: Reading his posts again reminds me that my Achilles pain was off the chart. I couldn’t walk or bear any weight at its worst. I had to stop dancing due to it and it took a couple of years rest for it to become bearable. I still have scar tissue right on the spot Enrique shows in the diagram. I also believed mine was an overuse injury and was dancing on it at least ten hours a week (classes only, not practice). The fact that I was caught in an incredibly distressing dance situation and that this was TMS only became evident many years later. Pain levels from 10 to 1 on a bad day. Rejoice! There is hope.

    * download link:
    https://www.runningpain.com/important_tms_updates (The TMS Master Practice Program - The New-Sarno TMS Program - Important TMS Updates)
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
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  7. SpinCycleMKV

    SpinCycleMKV New Member

    I am an atheist who has largely healed from pretty bad TMS. I am 32 now and had carpal tunnel symptoms that lingered since I was in high school. They got extremely bad where I lost my warehouse job and it turned my entire life around. Made a lot of discoveries about myself through the journal process.

    I am largely healed of these now. My wrist is between 95% to 100% better and I am lifting weights and doing chinups, something that would terrify me before. Other TMS symptoms I cured and/or made go nearly entirely away was my foot pain (started after my broken growth plate), tinnitus in my left ear (comes back from time to time but DRASTICALLY reduced). I went from being able to play basically no computer games to playing hundreds of games of League of Legends last year.

    I assume I could get to 100% if I stop being sloppy about keeping up with things, life's been in a state of turmoil with the pandemic, me moving and other things. I think the issue with atheism and science is science can be very rigid when it's looking for one specific thing in the area. I held steadfast to this belief and thought the TMSers were basically pushing a fantasy (religiousesque thinking) but when I was at rock bottom, lost my job, considering suicide, terrified of a life with this I finally picked up the Sarno book I had bought a month ago and it's like it was reading my life back to me. All the pain and hurt I'd felt for decades. That's what it took for me to consider the TMS, and I think that rigidity and also our tendency to look toward authority figures when they can be misguided, I would say particularly in the US. Because I took this journey it led to me to the best life I've ever led a life I wouldn't let myself lead because I was spending too busy being logical and not giving my emotions the time of day.

    I can elaborate if necessary and plan to make a Youtube video on my experience in the future since I have a channel. I think religious people are more apt to take a leap of faith on something like this. So yes, as an atheist you CAN heal if you put in the work.
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  8. miffybunny

    miffybunny Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi SpinCycle,

    Those are interesting insights!! Faith is a huge part of healing imo and science is inherently mysterious if you think about it...just as much as spirituality. For all the research and knowledge we have on the human body and brain, how much do scientists and doctors NOT know??? A ton I'd say!!! I often feel the need to defend the TMS approach as not "woo woo" to those who don't get it. This is not some kind of New Age twaddle. It's basic psychology, neuroscience and common sense imo. If someone wants to incorporate the spiritual dimension they can but getting better does not require anything mystical. It DOES require a bit of faith and trust in the process though. Not everything can be proven or explained 'how" in a linear way. There are unknowns and one has to be willing to accept that. When you're a kid and learn how to ride a bike, you don't know everything about aerodynamics, velocity and balance...you just sort of figure it out with practice.

    I look forward to watching your video!
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  9. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    Thanks SpinCycle, that’s exactly what I needed to hear! I was starting to think that atheism/agnosticism was holding me back in my recovery.

    As it happens I had an “episode” on the weekend of my back flaring up after working all day in the garden. During the work I was getting twinges of pain but welcoming it with the words “you’re only pain, you can’t actually hurt me” so I thought my attitude was right. But that night it went all bad and I looked like (as my wife says) a human question mark, unable to stand up straight. When this happens I lose a lot of confidence in the whole TMS thing. Lately I’ve started doing push-ups, sit-ups and squats after my usual swimming exercise had to stop due to coronavirus. When I do the sit-ups, I feel strong pain but bluster through it anyway and usually it’s hurting less at the end than at the start. But after my back went like that it was physically impossible. So I skipped yesterday (Monday). But today I thought I’d see and to my amazement it has gone back to before - still painful, but doable.

    So my conclusion is that the TMS journey hasn’t been a total waste (though that opinion may change next time I get a flare up!) as in the past I’ve spent time in bed and taken a good 4 or 5 days to recover. I’m just finding it hard to go the next level - total conviction of the TMS theory and no pain.

    Also, nice to hear about your journey. Will look forward to seeing that video.
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  10. SpinCycleMKV

    SpinCycleMKV New Member

    My full recovery took over a year though I had drastic results right away and many backslides. It's a rather long story which is why I'm slowly trying to script a video to do with my insights I wrote down throughout this process.

    Journaling and feeling my emotions helped tremendously but never got me to 100%, maybe an occasional 'shaky' 100% but the pain was always ready to scare me back into submission. It was only once I started "inducing my symptoms" on a regular basis that the fear went away. I had just started a new job that involved typing and it literally felt like if I didn't keep this good job my life would be over one day I was typing at work during a hearing and my wrist just kept getting worse and worse, I was almost ready to just walk out and quit my job. It was even worse cause I was being shadowed and taught so there was the embarassment but I just said fuck, no matter how hard this hurts I'm going to just do it I've tried everything else. I realized at that point the pain ONLY got so bad but it was stable and when I kept working through it it went away as I stopped feeding it. That day I made the insight I never quite understood and recognized despite it being in Sarno's and Ozanich's work, that you actually have to encounter the pain. I started waking up in the morning every day I would either rub my cat's stomach or scratch my bedding (which he likes and something I avoided through my TMS recovery cause it made me sore and I was in that IS IT PHYSICAL mindset?) for 3 minutes and just feel the pain go through my wrist, observe it and be okay with it, I did this twice a day and within a day or two the pain subsided dramatically AND recurrences of pain.

    This was one of the biggest insights I made after journaling. When you encounter the pain, observe it, not fear it, and not give it meaning your body ceases to fear it and that in turn eventually removes it. The stuff about "neural pathways"? I believe on here as well as those Day 1: Day 2: etc. posts were tremendously helpful in helping me getting fully better and understanding the process that I was somewhat reading about it but not fully engaging I tend to skim and try to get to the main points. It helped me understand how I was able to help myself prevent future recurrences and such.

    There is a path for you. I've helped two of my friends with TMS now and I hope to get this video up within a month or so to really help people by sharing my experience and the amazing resources that helped me.
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  11. Miss Metta

    Miss Metta Peer Supporter

    Becoming an atheist was actually part of my healing; not the other way around as is usually supposed.
    So yes, absolutely, you can heal from TMS with not a skerick of belief in anything other than that it is your mind that is powerful, not anything else.
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  12. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle


    Saw this and thought of you.

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  13. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    Thanks for thinking of me, Plum, so nice of you! They’re some useful words.
    The difference with me is I never went through church. Brought up pretty much an atheist. I like to joke that I’m a god fearing atheist but maybe it’s no joke.
    I agree, the awe you feel with nature is something special that takes you outside of yourself. The mystery, the unknowable, the it’s-so-much-bigger-than-me-ness of it all. No judgment.
    Religion should be free of all judgment. Judgment comes from the desire for perfection - the impossible, unattainable goal set us by monotheistic deities. I’m reading Greek mythology at the moment and the thing about polytheistic deities is they’re all flawed with the those same unwanted human traits like jealousy, avarice, pride, capriciousness, vengefulness, hubris, selfishness.....which I think, makes it easier to accept our own flaws.
    If only I could think all this when I’m caught up in my next emotional catastrophe! Or even better, feel it ;-).
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  14. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I am not an atheist, I am firmly agnostic. What I am going to say may sound controversial, so please don't throw stones at me from both sides, but here it is: being agnostic is much harder than being a religious devotee or an atheist, simply because agnostics see everything from many sides and angles, and are more likely to doubt and question everything than those believe in God or believe strictly in the interaction of atoms and molecules. Nevertheless, I fully recovered from a pretty bad set of symptoms, despite my innate ability to doubt everything and everybody, myself and my own abilities being a primary object of my doubts.

    But here is a good news for you. In addition to a religious path which was taken very successfully by many on this forum, there is a strictly neuroscience-based approach, which is very logical and very straightforward. The entire concept of re-wiring one's brain, to train the brain so it would forget those pain-inducing neural paths is quite easy to grasp. There are quite a few people who write on that subject, and you may want to check out Norman Doidge who wrote about many of quite astonishing stories of people re-wiring the brain and healing from incurable diseases.

    Still, even if you are agnostic or atheist, the most important factor in your recovery is your faith in your own ability to overcome all the challenges along the way, regardless of the path you take. And that faith is an absolute requirement. Doubts start with the doubt in TMS concept, but then continue with doubting yourself. To me, developing faith in my own abilities and my own strength was the hardest and the longest struggle. Yet, here I am, fully healed. And so will be you!
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  15. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    Good news: the brain is neuroplastic and always changing. You don't need religion for this phenomenon to take place. You have been given beautiful advice in this thread. Yes, religion may help some people be successful because they feel connected to something that provides guidelines and direction, but you can have that same general mindset without having any sort of attachment to conventional religion whatsoever. Perhaps it's a community you belong to? An overarching goal in your life? A cause that strongly aligns with your beliefs? Feeling connected to the Earth, as others in this thread have already wisely pointed out? There are truly endless possibilities. I once read a beautiful poem from a woman who thinks about how her body is made up of particles from the universe and that she is meant to be here - this helped her navigate depression (among other tools and resources, of course). Traditional religion wasn't part of her journey.

    Never let anyone tell you that you must fit into a certain demographic or line of thinking in order for healing to take place. We all have bodies designed to heal from mind-body symptoms/TMS.
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