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New Program Day 9: Somatic Tracking

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Alan Gordon LCSW, Jul 20, 2017.

  1. gutter3

    gutter3 Peer Supporter

    The same thing happened to me. But I know it's because I try to not acknowledge the anxiety as I am afraid to make it worse. So, when noticing or "tracking" my anxiety I would get anxious bc I would realize my anxiety was up. This only happened a couple times for a couple days. Now I just try and focus on the feeling of the anxiety and not why I'm anxious. It seems to be helping as I notice I am not as anxious and I can stop the anxious thoughts by focusing on the feeling and not the thoughts. I stopped trying to push the anxiety or bad thoughts away and just felt the feeling in body.
    Ewok likes this.
  2. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    I can resonate with your experience with massage, self-massage , deep fascia releases, to help with accessing parts of my body that have 'tensed' over time in my own quest for being the person I imagined or realized others expected me to be. I also was told many years ago during a CPR training that I was not breathing breathes as often a most, e.g. "I wasn't breathing". The body work has helped with this and other aspects of my psyche. Alan's anxiety regulation demo is great, allowing for me to not focus on "the pain" but focus on my anxiety around having the pain just tending to this anxiety with love and caring.
    plum and Bodhigirl like this.
  3. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    Hi gutter3, when you say "It seems to be helping as I notice I am not as anxious and I can stop the anxious thoughts by focusing on the feeling and not the thoughts." What exactly do you mean? You are just feeling the bodily sensations and that in turn are helping the anxious thoughts reduce?
  4. gutter3

    gutter3 Peer Supporter

    I focus on how I am feeling physically, I try to find where I am feeling the anxiety (ie stomach, head, chest). Sometimes it's in my stomach, sometimes in my chest. I think it's helping. I usually get anxious on the weekends, I can control my week better since I work all week so I get anxious on the weekends. When I would start to feel anxious I would observe my body and focus more on how my anxiety was making my body feel. I tried to follow what Alan was saying:

    "I’d like you to try something as you’re reading this: check in with what you’re feeling in your body right now.

    Are you aware of feeling any anxiety? If so, where do you feel it? Do you feel it in your chest? Your Stomach? Your throat?

    And how would you describe this sensation? Is it a tightness? A clenching? A fluttery feeling?

    Is it warm? Is it tingling?

    And as you check in, just notice, is this sensation pleasant or unpleasant?

    Is it widespread or is it in one specific area?

    As you check in, you don’t have to do anything with this sensation; you’re not trying to make it go away or move it, you’re just watching."

    It helped calm my mind down. I tend to try and push the anxiety away, stuff it down I guess (repress it). I think focusing on the physical feeling of anxiety helps so your mind doesn't go crazy.
    Ewok and shmps like this.
  5. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    That's great. The hardest part is remembering to check in. But as you practice, it will gradually become more natural.
  6. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    Thanks !!!
    gutter3 likes this.
  7. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Just this evening an event occurred where I found myself getting anxious while cooking dinner. I was getting too much "help" that was irritating and making me nervous and angry. As my anxiety rose my pain increased, BUT I was able to begin focusing on how my anxiety was increasing and just allowed this to happen, noticing the anxiety and my reaction to it. My anxiety began to lessen and my pain lessened as well.
    suky, Ellen, Miss Metta and 1 other person like this.
  8. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    And I am guessing, you used somatic tracking method to observe the anxiety related bodily sensations. right?
  9. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Hello shmps
    Yes, I did use somatic tracking, but for me it comes down to just allowing, accepting that I am feeling this 'tension' in my body and so be it. I don't angst over exactly where this anxiety is, unless it seems obvious. My acceptance of the nervousness, tightness, breathing issues, or whatever, is all that seems to matter. If I cannot EXACTLY locate the locale of my anxiety I do not fret.
    gutter3 likes this.
  10. Miss Metta

    Miss Metta Peer Supporter

    My main problem ATM, too. Stopped exercising because of pain, thought of exercising brings up anxiety. Not happy about not exercising even though I know there's nothing structural. Pain, well, it hurts. And lasts for days.
    caligirlgonegreen likes this.
  11. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you for this video. Interesting and helpful to change from "oh, no, it's bad," to "okay, I'm watching, listening."
  12. BOP

    BOP Newcomer

    I've been trying to understand my shopping addiction for a while now. So many things, beyond even that, clicked into place in this lesson. I am self-soothing in a destructive learned pattern. But more than that, it's simply a distraction I use to avoid getting in touch with what I have labeled as hard, fearful, work, or have-to. Getting quiet and tuning in has gotten a bad rap in my head!

    This is a really good program and is a great augmentation to the work I did in Unlearn Your Pain by Dr Schubiner. I must stress that while I have untethered many symptoms from MBS, this stuff works on real clinical pain as well. I have melting nerves in my spinal cord from an epidural gone wrong that can make my legs go out, chronic Lyme, bone spurs/PF, and damaged bladder lining. However, I still walk miles, dance including performances, run a company, and LIVE. It gets better every day in how my mind responds and how I treat pain. It's now just a passenger and not a master. Thank you!
  13. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Love this line.
    caligirlgonegreen and plum like this.
  14. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi allen,

    This a confusing 'asigment' for me!

    Recently i started to do muscle relax exercizes' which means that ones a day i lay down and try to release the tension in my muscles. Its hard and i have not been able to get relaxed from head to toes . Wich explain my headaches because of the stuff neck and upperback. Somehow i think it is really important i keep trying at that because i feel the tension every day.

    This somatic tracking is the opposit: i tried it today : lay down : noticed the enormous stiffness in my upperbody and told me self 'okay do not worrie just let it be .. and then : i woke up after 40 minutes. I napped !! Me ! I have major problems sleep-ins at night. So falling a sleep at 4 in the aftermoon is rare. So : strange experience , but woke up as tense as before and now wondering : what about my myscle relax 'exersizes' is that bad : is it 'forcing myself to relax ... or should i keep doing both ?

    Hope you get what i mean ?

    gipfel65 likes this.
  15. Miss Metta

    Miss Metta Peer Supporter

    Hi Karina
    It is 'normal' when doing progressive muscle relaxation exercises (which is what you are doing) to become aware of the amount of tension in your body, so you are actually doing it 'right'. But the point is not to put pressure on yourself to 'do it right' or say to yourself, "I must relax, and darn, I can still feel tension in my neck, I must relax". Falling asleep when you first start out doing this kind of relaxation work or meditation, is a normal, very common problem. It usually means that you are not getting enough sleep at night, which you have said is the case with you. So this is normal. Don't beat yourself up about it.

    You may find it helpful in the beginning stages to get yourself an audio relaxation program or a book about progressive relaxation. Or even just look it up on the web. The more you persist with it and practice most days, the better it gets, and you start to not fall asleep. I think progressive relaxation exercises is a marvelous tool for anyone suffering anxiety. Over time, it lowers your baseline anxiety so that you don't get that adrenalin 'rush' or panic sensation so often during the day. It can take 4-6 weeks for the benefits to really start to appear, but if you remind yourself of this and stick with it, it can be very helpful. I know some people prefer meditation, but I find progressive relaxation more effective for anxiety, distress or panic. The tense/release method is the best in my experience, though you can find an audio for a meditation of body-scanning which is similar. It is free online (I just don't recall where but a search will bring it up). Hope this helps
    gailnyc and Lunarlass66 like this.
  16. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi miss meta,

    Thank for your reply and you are right about 'how to go about the muscle relaxing'
    But it was not exactly my 'problem'
    I meant : how do you do this program 'item': somatic tracking vs my
    muscle relax exersizes?
    Because they are opposit of eachother
    So when you do muscle relaxing you automatic have to 'tune in' on discomfort and pain and then you try to act on that ' by trying to relaxing the muscles :
    With the somatic tracking you do the opposit : you notice it but NOT act on it and tell yourself its Okay whatever you notice (at least that is what i understand )
    So how to implement the both?
    Is that possible or not helpful to do ?

    Maybe Allen can comment on this ?

  17. Miss Metta

    Miss Metta Peer Supporter

    Hi Karina
    yes, you are are right. One is a deliberate, structured practice, the other is a day to day, moment by moment practice. However, I feel that the approach to them is the same, at least as far as mind-set goes. With progressive relaxation, yes, sure, you focus on the feeling of allowing the muscle to relax, but you don't force it (you can't really, or you get tense again), so that even though you are tensing and releasing, or just releasing, you are still just noticing. You do the action, but with a calm and accepting and curious attitude, you just notice sensations. An important element of progressive relaxation is that it is ok to not relax, to just feel what you feel, to experience the sensations. The somatic tracking is the same. You check in with yourself at any time, and just notice what you are experiencing in your body. A by-product of this may turn out to be muscle relaxation, but this is not the aim. Yet it is often the result of simply tuning in and noticing. The moment you put pressure on that the somatic tracking has to go somewhere, has an end in mind, is when it becomes problematic. With somatic tracking muscle relaxation is often the result simply because you tune in to what you are feeling and where in your body, and sometimes, when you pay attention to, say, your left shoulder and you notice that the sensation in your shoulder is tightness, often by just noticing this-when before it was unconscious - allows it to release. But that is not the ultimate aim, the aim is to just notice sensations and allow them to be. "Oh that's interesting, my shoulder feels tension", rather than, "OMG my shoulder is tight and that means I'm stressed and this is awful and I should relax and what can I do to relax and why am I stressed...oh god, go and pour a drink, watch TV, my shoulder is tense and this means something bad". With somatic tracking you try and remove the interpretations and meanings behind why you experience a feeling or a bodily sensation. To answer your question, you absolutely can do both practices, I do both and I think they make each other more powerful. One is more formal practice, the other is informal. I personally think that combining both is giving you the best possible outcomes. Progressive relaxation lowers your baseline day to day anxiety reactions so that you are starting from a better place. You also become more familiar with what your body and muscles feel like. Somatic tracking allows you to notice throughout the day to check in with yourself and pay attention to not just your muscles, but how you are feeling generally. The somatic part of it is where -in your body - are you feeling that feeling? This too rewires your brain to learn that whatever is happening in you is ok, that you are safe. Both ultimately re-wire the brain.

    I think yes, absolutely do both, I have found doing both better than just one by itself, they complement each other. But I suffer high level anxiety to begin with. Someone who is dealing pain but is not hyper-anxious could probably do well just from somatic tracking alone. Alan may have more to say on it but I think the two are ideal together and complement each other, if you find that progressive relaxation works for you.
    Hope this helps
  18. caligirlgonegreen

    caligirlgonegreen New Member

    Mornings are the most difficult for me. You are not alone at all. I think for me it was because I was alone every morning and responsible to get myself and my brother off to school from a very young age. I felt very pressured and nervous. I also felt lonely and wished my parents were there to make breakfast, lunch and be with me. I was sad, scared, and overly responsible. I wanted to be taken care of. I was also angry. And anger can turn to rage and rage=pain for me. Now I work on taking care of that little girl who wasn't taking care of. I tell her shes safe and shes not alone and she doesn't have to be responsible for anyone anymore. Try to dig deep and figure out why mornings are hard for you.
    Now as an adult, when I wake up my brain is immediately flooded with "to do" and "do I have pain?" once my eyes open. I have started reading for a few minutes upon waking. I used to get on social media right away but now I think that just makes me feel worse. Maybe try the reading or journaling upon waking? I hope your morning is better tomorrow.
  19. caligirlgonegreen

    caligirlgonegreen New Member

    This is 100% me. I have no fear of damage or injury. I'm just sick of hurting and why would I want to hurt MORE?
  20. caligirlgonegreen

    caligirlgonegreen New Member

    I have never felt more at home in my body than during my hot yoga. Strong, sexy, powerful, releasing, stretching, crying, connecting to every part of me and everyone. Then the pain took it. I felt like my body betrayed me. I felt like a prisoner trapped inside. I realize now that I only love my body when it feels good and looks good. My love for it was conditional. I want to love my body even when it doesn't look good or feel good. That's when it needs it the most, no?
    gailnyc and plum like this.

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