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Day 1 Doing the program again

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by robertmiller, Apr 26, 2020.

  1. robertmiller

    robertmiller New Member


    About one year ago I did the entire structured educational program for TMS and it worked. On day 3, I took a yoga class a noticed for the first, that I could remember, I had no shoulder or upper back pain during class. It felt so freeing that I cried during class. I could now reach both of my arms well over my head and stay in a "downward dog" for a much lengthier period of time unrestricted by pain. I could also take cycling classes and lift 5lb weights while riding the bike with no shoulder pain. (These are the heaviest weights they offer during the class.) Running felt easier - no tension in my back. I got faster. And at the gym, I was lifting 60lb dumbells to workout my chest, something I hadn't done since early college. I'm 35 years old.

    Over the past year, I have had only small occurrences of upper back pain again. The pain usually comes with muscle spasms in my upper back, neck, and the sides of my torso. Sometimes it makes my fingers tingle, and others it's accompanied by bubbles in my stomach. (Ulcer? Unclear.) Said simpler, my symptoms are similar to most of the stories I've read here on the TMS Forum.

    Over the past two weeks, my back pain came back. I decided to write this forum post because last night the pain reached a level it hadn't reached in over a year. I'm not worried. I know I have TMS. It's 100% clear to me that I'm resisting something. What I want to accomplish in doing this program again is to determine what I'm resisting! The first time I did the program I didn't post in this forum at all. I did all of the journal exercises, and I had already been a daily meditator for over 5 years. Perhaps public posts will take my TMS journey to another level and help others too.

    It's fascinating to me how, when the pain comes back, I can find myself buying back into that old story of "I have back pain. Oh, my back is so bad. I'm going to end up just like my father and grandfather." (Both who suffered from back pain and other chronic illnesses, including cancer.) And how, even writing this post, I am regaining the awareness that my pain is the result of that old story itself. That plus other childhood stories and the related repressed emotions. It's all led to my own version of perfectionism. Trying to be perfect is infuriating.

    Of note, and to be clear, I go to the doctor for regular check-ups. I eat a healthy diet. Considering my family's history, I take the necessary precautions that Western medicine would prescribe. And, having said all that, I'm convinced my family's history of back pain is likely caused by repressed emotions too. My grandfather and I have discussed at length the power of the mind on his own healing journey, and how none of the back pain prescription - from drugs to chiropractic to PT - ever worked. When I sent him Dr. Sarno's book last year, he said he wished he had come across it earlier in his life. Luckily my grandfather is mentally strong as is. He beat cancer at 73 and is now 90 years old. He gets around great and his mind is still quick.

    I have TMS. It's clear. Each time I've journaled and meditated my way through something I've been resisting, the back pain goes away like magic. If you've just started this journey, keep going. Read the success stories. Most important for my recovery was the journal entries.

    If anyone has any insight into pain coming back and revisiting this program please share!
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  2. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome back.
    That's the crux of it. That story is funny (not). It needs to get deleted and over written. I found Sarno a little younger than you and I am 20 years your senior and still lifting weights and playing ball with 20somethings and I just got out my mountain bike for the spring, day before last.... That whole 'creaky old man' story is just that... a story. It is NOT a true story, unless you believe it.

    I was at baseball practice the other night... it was my turn to hit and they call me 'Viejo' 'Pops'and 'The OLD one'.... but I cranked several shots into the gap and all the teasing ends! I actually get a sick sense of happiness that I still get to play and none of it would be here if it wasn't for Sarno. Almost as if I know a secret they don't....oh wait, I do!... in that respect he gave people the most wonderful gift ever... the gift of freedom from pain and fear, so we might enjoy our life!!!! I am grateful to that man every time I play ball. Every time I dig a hole. Every time I eat sh#t and just get up and don't worry about it.

    Over the time I have been doing this (21 years next month) I have had a number of times where IT came back...sometimes as sciatica, foot pain, Knee stiffness/pain, shoulder issue, TMJ and Wrist/hand issues. And every single time I just went back to page one, day one and started over. The older I get, the faster the resolution of symptoms. My initial recovery was 3-5 weeks. The return trips were always shorter....first days....and now sometimes hours, and I have even arrested attacks in real time.

    ..and it is always the same answer. There is something going on in my Personal/Financial/Relational/Family/Work/Athletic life that is bugging me down there.... Oh, I am always 'Fine' to my conscious self, but upon inspection, there is some new Rage/anger/Fear/shame that my 'Fine' self just swallowed without even paying attention. The Text of Sarno's Books work like a questionnaire and I rarely get more than a few pages in before I go "OHO! AHA!".... and then I turn my attention to THAT and the symptoms dissolve. Yes it is that easy.

    I have also found that being on this forum and helping other people is insurance against falling into the TMS trap, because the largest part of our experience is similar.... when I read someone's post who is currently 'stuck' , I can see my own sticky's. ....and we all have them and there's no shame in being human.

    side note; To anybody on this forum, the last few weeks have been Real Anger makers for a lot of us. I was scared when I first heard the 'story'... and that turned into anger as time goes on. Mostly because baseball season didn't start on time. I know me. I AM that shallow. I am that selfish. But I don't have any TMS right now.

    I imagine your symptoms will go away faster than you think....

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  3. robertmiller

    robertmiller New Member

    Hey Baseball65 - Thank you so much for responding! It's honestly an honor, as your story has played a big role in my own discovery and healing process. Grateful to have your support.
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  4. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for this. I’m actually really enjoying the lockdown because it’s freed me from all the small, annoying adult tasks and responsibilities that I have come to simultaneously resent but do anyway. It’s given me the chance to step back and look at the story of these obligations and the story of the life I could have had, “should” have had. I was in my 30’s when my life was ‘destroyed’.

    I’m pretty shallow too.

    I want to be young and lithe again. I want to turn heads when I walk into a room. I miss that. I feel like a saggy old cloth cat (brownie points for the brits who can name this reference). I’m epically fucking pissed off about being nice and cool and caring, and I’m really pissed that it’s taken a pandemic for people to appreciate key workers. I’ve been a carer for over a decade and this is the first time it’s had any kudos outside of my family circle.

    I’m a wild hermit with a fierce nostalgia for the minutiae of human life with every foible and my spirit aches to be young again so that I can taste it all without the bittersweet twist of maturity and experience. Mostly I want a time machine so that I may go back and choose a different path...even though I know every path leads me right back here.
    And so it goes.

    peace, dear one.
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  5. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    "Hits it out of the park and flips her bat!"

    Without going off topic, this current situation is a great time to see what stuff is really like and how people really are....adversity does NOT build character. It exposes it!

    ..and I am a Hypocrite when I complain about it. I am an 'essential' and yet have spent loooooong hours playing with my dog, working on my swing and re-reading Harry Potter and fricking LOVING the slothful indulgence. ...and yet I will complain about 'the government' and 'people's cowardice' and a lot of other stuff that from a James-ian pragmatist viewpoint has nothing to do with me....

    That sort of disconnect is what causes a lot of the cup to fill with TMS. The reason I don't get symptoms now is my awareness of how full of sh+t I am....

    ..and to address the OG topic, everytime I have had symptoms return it is because I accidentally started taking my 'adult' and 'parent' too serious and forgetting the kid. I don't have to be the kid, but I better know what he's saying and thinking.

    awesome @plum
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  6. robertmiller

    robertmiller New Member

    @plum and @Baseball65 - Do either of you ever get stuck trying to "figure it out?" Yesterday I went for a run and the pain went away almost immediately. Both of your responses helped me recognize that staying active in and of itself helps me get the emotions moving out of my body. It helps me remember that it's all in my head and that I'm strong.

    I can often find myself journaling and reading this forum - using the Structured Education tools and other mind-body work I've picked up along the way - trying to uncover what's really happening. What's the childhood thing I'm pissed about? What's really happening within me that's causing me to make these choices and experience this pain?

    My question is - is it even worth the digging? Maybe just acknowledging that I'm pissed off and afraid is enough. It's like... I know that I don't need to get to the root of what's happening, yet my curious brain wants to figure it out. So I dig and dig. The digging is probably just more perfectionism! Any thoughts here would be amazing. Thanks again.
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  7. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh yeah baby!

    That's really odd... if you go back and look at any of the advice I've given anybody on this forum over the years, my summa theologica on TMS would be titled "The digging is the solution"

    You would also see my caveat, "You don't have to be right... the digging itself is sufficient"

    All of my personal tools to prevent/stop TMS are built out of my Dr. John Sarno Fundamentalism. I took the models and information out of "Healing Back Pain" , saw that they worked really good and streamlined them to fit my life.

    One of the most essential tools is intentionally turning your mind to a source of irritation when you catch yourself noticing the symptoms. What does that mean?

    Ok.. of a sudden I feel a pinch in my Butt. I instantly start canvassing my recent past, people very close to me and any 'new' situation , positive or negative I might be involved in. Aha!... I am starting a new job tomorrow. (I am a construction worker so I am always starting a new job). Than I turn my thoughts to WHY after 54 years of being on this planet and having successfully built,remodeled,repainted a thousand things, I still feel in my core like I don't know what the fuck I am doing.

    while I have been thinking about this, I took out the trash, washed the dishes and cleaned the house...20 minutes later I notice "Oh... no Butt spasm"
    I am lifting weights. of a sudden my arm feels like an icepick is in it. I go to the bathroom and do the same inspection. I realize I am really pissed at my son (Who I am lifting weights with), because He was just short with me when I offered him some cash to buy a house if he only gives it his attention and care... but he's too busy being a rock star.... ungrateful bastard!
    I continue lifting and focusing on how angry I am at him... and by the end of the workout I am fine.
    I'm lying down reading. I realize I am having a mild sciatic leg burn. I stop reading Harry Potter and grab "Healing Back Pain" or "Mindbody connection". Two pages in it reminds me of WHO I am at the core (a perfectionist,narcissist, with low self esteem) and I realize I am super nervous because someone is GIVING me a pile of money. I have never had more than 5k in savings in my life and now I have 10 times that...why does that scare me? Responsibility. Perfectionism. If I don't invest it wisely it will all disappear and then people will laugh at me and say "See...he IS an idiot!". Deep down I don't trust myself.
    ..... I go back and read Harry Potter and right before I role over to sleep notice that the burn is gone.


    I gave three real events that have happened over the last few years so I don't have to generalize or be vague. To be quite frank, I am NOT even sure I got the right answer...so there is the end of your worries of perfectionism. If you had to be perfect to do this, it wouldn't have worked for me.
    It's not finding the answer, it's the PROCESS itself that ends the pain. I suppose it's what Sarno said, that when we do this turning of our attention to the realm of the psychological, it sends a message to the deepest, poorly understood part of the brain that we know what it is doing and that we do NOT need it's help! Having been exposed, it gives up the strategy, because the strategy has been rendered useless.

    Your question about acknowledging that it is just anger and ignoring it? I have heard that that works for some people. BUT, in my long years it seems like they eventually end up here asking us why that doesn't work anymore. But that is my own very biased outlook. It might work?

    It sounds like you are already 'getting it' from your run... And you are right about one thing for sure. Inaction gives the mind too much time to think and since this is mental, isn't the healthiest.... Only warning there might be I was extremely active and in the best shape of my life when my initial symptoms arrived.

    But I look back at that guy who had all of the pain like a little brother who died. He was so hellbent on being a GOOD middle class, little league coaching, moral,ethical guy that he almost blew up! I didn't have to become Jim Morrison or Mickey Mantle to get better.... but I had to acknowledge that there is a little bit of both of them in me and they want to give me a shout out every now and then...TMS!

    sounds like you are already getting it.
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  8. robertmiller

    robertmiller New Member

    @Baseball65 this is awesome, grateful for the response. I'm going to read this and let it settle in. Thanks again!
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  9. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes. I got so utterly mired in this endeavour that I gave up on Sarno and TMS for a long time. The error lies in looking for something, something we believe will redeem us...or at the very least, take our pain away.

    I feel gently towards this tendency now. It is a very human thing to do. But as @Baseball65 says, the digging itself is the key, not unearthing Pandora’s Box.

    And life likes it’s little jokes. As Kenneth Tynan so wonderfully said “We seek the teeth to match our wounds."

    The wounding itself holds the secret. Some of us need to get down and dirty with our past, our past selves and what it made us. No blame. No shame. A neutral eye. This lends clarity.

    I used to be pretty selfish and precious which I wrapped in a freedom-loving Bohemian blanket. Only now do I see the truth of who I was and the years between then and now have been hard and humbling.

    We are storytelling beings by nature and this curiosity is part of the warp and weft of the pattern. We also seek “closure” so that we may move on. I used to describe this need to get to the root as a splinter in the brain. It is maddening. We worry at it endlessly as we would a sore tooth. We run the risk of making it into something where nothing existed before.

    @Baseball65 says it all really. We get better at taking emotional inventories and gauging our psychological temperature without recourse to such wearying psychoarchaeology. Look at it this way, we know that all over the globe ancient stones and megaliths exist but we cannot really know with true sacred intimacy what lead to their creation. Archaeologists* take punts on this but their ideas lack spirit and meaning. It is enough that the stones exist. We can honour the ancient beauty of them without any attempt to understand the mystery. It is not our privilege to possess all the answers, and anyway isn’t an enigma quite enchanting.

    *Astronomers, on the other hand...

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