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Daniel L. Can I still stretch, get massages, etc?

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by walllc643, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. walllc643

    walllc643 New Member

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Since discovering Sarno's work and much of the content on this site, I have made a concerted effort to eliminate any behavior that reinforces the notion of a structural cause for my pain. There are many activities that I used to perform compulsively in an effort to "fix" some imagined structural problem: namely stretching, exercising and consciously attempting to relax certain muscle groups.

    As long as I approach these activities purely from the standpoint of promoting health or providing symptomatic relief, are they safe to engage in?
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    I love this question.

    As you may already know, there are many different beliefs regarding this particular issue. Sarno believes that anything you do to send a message to your unconscious that it is a structural issue can be a problem. He argues that even the slightest bit of reinforcement to your brain can hold you back. If the exercise provides some relief (albeit temporary), then part of your brain associates the exercise with a structural problem.

    Here’s an anology: My neighbor. Matt, has a fancy new car with a touch screen on the dashboard that tells him all about the cars’ fuel consumption. Two months ago he noticed that his car was going through gas at an extremely rapid rate. He kept filling up the tank, but the gas levels kept dropping. For a long time, he thought that it was the type of gas that he was putting in the car that was the problem: “Regular doesn’t work, so Supreme will fix this…”

    After weeks of aggravating confusion, Matt finally took his car to the mechanic. It turns out that the computer system inside the car was malfunctioning and sending the wrong message to the engine. The computer was telling the engine to use the maximum amount of gas, when that wasn’t necessary. If my neighbor continued filling up his car, in theory the car would still run and he and the car could function that way for quite some time. But it wouldn’t fix the problem – and he’d run out of money pretty quickly.

    Just like the computer in the car, your brain is sending the wrong signals to your body. Somewhere along the way it malfunctioned, and stretching (like putting more gas in the car) has provided enough relief to keep you going, but it hasn’t fixed the problem.

    Here’s my personal belief: You can’t drive the car to the mechanic if there isn’t any gas in it. You have to fill it up to give you that extra push (even if it is for a short time/distance) for the time being. Similarly, stretching, while not the solution to your problem, may make you feel better in the moment, and give you the mental space to continue to work on the reasons why your body is manifesting this TMS pain. But stretching won’t cure your pain. Exercise is an important way to keep your mind and your body healthy, but when it comes time to fix the malfunctioning part of your brain, exercise won’t do anything.

    In short, it is completely “safe” for you to continue stretching; this is not a structural problem, therefore it is not possible to exacerbate imagined structural damage. And if stretching is part of your normal health routine, then by all means, continue. But don’t think for a moment that stretching (putting gas in the car) is going to solve the problem with the brain (the computer). If you start thinking that way, then you’ll spend an awful lot of time and money on the wrong solution.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    giantsfan likes this.
  3. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    Great response!
  4. walllc643

    walllc643 New Member

  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Dr. Sarno and Steve Ozanich say exercise is good, despite any pain.

    Just be careful.
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

  7. Steve Ozanich

    Steve Ozanich TMS Consultant

    Stretch because it feels goooood, never for pain reduction, but because you enjoy the experience and want to feel flexible. Lift, run, exercise for health, tension reduction, and a sense of wellbeing--never for pain reduction. In fact, never do anything for pain reduction, or you're TMSing. Your brain would love for you to do things for pain reduction, so that your 'problem' can be swept inside.

    Never let symptoms stop you from doing anything (unless you're dizzy and about to perform brain surgery and/or self-vasectomy). The idea is not to heal, never try to heal. The idea is to take away the need for the obsession. Since fear is at that beginning of the chain of TMS events, start there. It's not just a fear of death, but it's also a fear of shame and guilt, for being exposed for who you really are.

    Like Dr. Sarno said, he didn't have a method for treating pain. He had a method for dealing with the reason for the pain. The same is true for all obsessions, like pain. Why do you need to worry about pain, and body? Or phobias or anything? That's the mechanism to get to. If you have deep fear, then when you heal from TMS, your need for an obsession will simply shift to something else, like drinking, phobia-ing, dancing, singing, etc...anyth-ing.

    As long as you care about your body, or what your body is doing, you are still TMSing. In my experience, the most common form of TMSing that I see is people asking questions about whether they can do this or that, etc. The new TMS-obsession is on "healing perfectly." They don't realize that their new obsessive focus is slowly shifting from body-obsession to question-obsession.

    They can never be free until they become aware that thinking is replacing feeling, and therefore, living. I quoted Emile Chartier in GPD, "To think, is to say no." Did anyone understand why? The real conflict is not within the mind, but between the head and the heart.

    Go live in the moment, doing what you love with all your heart, then you are free. If you love it, your fear fades. Hate is not the opposite of love, fear is.

    BloodMoon, Forest and heleng like this.
  8. heleng

    heleng Peer Supporter

    I find this thread really interesting as I have become really obsessed with stretching and trying to heal myself and know it is going to be tricky to get the balance right, to do things for my body that are good and kind without trying to heal myself, save myself,protect myself. It is almost impossible to do stretching yoga or anything if it is done in fear and I know I have done that for a long time. I want to get back to doing it because it feels good and really connects me to my body in a positive way instead of a desperate way.

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