Although it says Day 13 it really should be about day 20 something - I've had lots of interruptions.... But I wanted to report how I got a glimpse of how challenging the pain can make it disappear. Which is really important to me because I need evidence that I'm on the right track, as being the devout god-fearing atheist that I am, faith has never really come easily to me. But anyway, back to this glimpse. On Day 12 (which I did about five days ago) we were instructed to read an article by Monte Hueftle called Three Strategies for Thinking Clean. I read it at the train station on my way to work. I thought it was interesting, but doubted it would work with me - I've always been a bit suspicious about repeating mantras and aphorisms and positive thinking as nothing more than New Age mumbo jumbo. Anyway, within minutes of sitting in my chair at work, the back and leg pain came on big time. Actually it had been bad all weekend, but now it was worse. I just gritted my teeth and sat through it, but it wasn't fun (though when is pain fun?) After about half an hour or so I got up to fill my water bottle. I could barely walk properly, every step was half my usual stride length. I looked and felt like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz in need of a good oiling. As I got closer to the water tap, I remembered one of the three statements Monte suggested and I tried to really relax as I said it. "Wouldn't it be good if my body was open and free." Surprisingly, the pain in my back pretty much vanished within about 10 seconds and I felt that I could walk normally on the way back. I thought more about the words - even now, I'm not even sure I understand what they mean. So I kept repeating them if I felt the pain return, they worked for a time, but the more I kept repeating them, the less effective they became. In the end, it stopped working. But I didn't mind, because it was a sign! I think what happened is I had unwittingly ambushed my unconscious. It still doesn't worry me so much that the pain came back. In fact, it returned stronger the next day, then became so unbearable that I took ibuprofen-codeine painkillers for the next two days at work. (I felt bad about this at the time, but I'm not so troubled about it now, sometimes it's counterproductive to be in extreme pain). Then yesterday before I went in I read Day 13's reading, the article by journalist Jonah Lehrer, called The Psychology of Chronic Back Pain. It's a long read, but I found it a really interesting article. I didn't have the eureka moment of painlessness of Day 12, but I managed to get through the nightshift without taking pain killers. The article talks about how some people still feel the intensity of pain, but somehow the brain detaches itself from it and prevents all the negative emotions that go with it. It's these emotions that make it worse. As I've suffered depression on and off for the past 25 years, I've given this pain all the right conditions to go ahead and make itself a comfortable home to live in. So to anyone still having doubts, myself included, these little glimpses are invaluable and I think they're not anything that can be forced. It seems to me that, like the Spanish Inquisition in Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, the most powerful weapon against your unconscious and therefore pain is the dastardly element of surprise. And paradoxically you (or I) may not even be aware that we're wielding this weapon. Hmm, it sounds like it's an unconscious fight against the unconscious. That's really doing my head in to think about, so I might leave it there.