1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
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"The Work"

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by McAllister, Jun 3, 2020.

  1. McAllister

    McAllister New Member

    Hi friends. I've been listening to and reading the Pain Recovery Program, and I've read Sarno's book. I've also read a loooot of stuff about TMS online, from information to success stories. I'm talking months. But you know what's still 100% a mystery to me? What "the work" actually is! You've got to put in "the work..." but what do you actually do to get better? What are the steps? What is the goal? How do you measure your progress? That information is missing from everything I read.

    From what little information I've been able to find, the actual "work" is something like being aware of your body/emotions, or maybe considering the idea that physical symptoms are caused by anger/fear. I've tried that, and it doesn't seem like enough to hang my hat on. I must be missing something huge — I feel like I spend hours a day introspecting already, even before I ever knew about TMS, and it hasn't cured me yet. Please forgive the frustration in my post... I'm just really at a loss and it seems like the answer isn't anywhere to be found. I've heard that everyone needs to "find their own way," but that's meaningless if one doesn't know what the actual goal is, or how one knows they're on the right path.
  2. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi McAllister,

    Welcome to the forum.

    There is also the Structured Education Programme (SEP) that you could consider doing (it's free) https://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Structured_Educational_Program (Structured Educational Program). The SEP gives you TMS work/tasks to do every day for 6 weeks.

    Also ACE1's 'keys' to recovery might interest you, if you've not already seen them on your travels around the forum; they're in the first posting by 'balto' on this thread https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/key-to-healing.3577/ (Key to healing)
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
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  3. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Essentially healing is about feeling safe, both physically and emotionally.

    TMS happens when we can no longer contain our emotional responses (imagine a pot simmering on the stove), and the pot boils over. Recovery is taking the pot off the boil and learning how to keep it that way.

    So the “work” is figuring out the situations, experiences, relationships and beliefs that cause you distress or some measure of inner conflict. This is where combing your past is useful because it helps you see where your typical responses come from. Maybe you’ve inherited a belief system or some other dynamic that is at odds with who you truly are. It’s amazing how much stress, pressure and criticism we experience by out-growing limiting beliefs especially where they are heavily culturally sanctioned. And so we tend towards patterns that rest upon the nervous systems fight~flight~freeze~fawn survival responses to cope with this psychological battleground.

    So is your tendency to be reactive? Angry? Bullish? Aggressive? Or do you tend to run away? Deny? Repress? Maybe you dissociate? Or people-please?

    These are the unconscious behavioural patterns that are the nexus of the emotional work’. This is quite a focused aspect of healing and it’s also the place many people get stuck. It’s not enough to introspect and garner insight, you then have to recognise where and when you start emotionally fraying and do something about it.

    This is where self-soothing enters the equation. You learn to calm your fears, shame, guilt, anger, sadness or whatever instead of letting your emotions take you for a ride. Most people here have to learn how to talk kindly to themselves in these moments, especially if pain/anxiety/depression is bad. It is these knee-jerk reactions (to emotions, to pain, to our bodies, to our relationships, to our lives), that we need to soften and become much more chilled about.

    People with TMS have high levels of physical and emotional tension (boiling pots). Recovery comes with recognising the pot is boiling (anxiety/pain etc), noticing what emotional state the dial is on (anger/grief/fear etc) and dialling it back down to relaxation/mellowness/safety. It’s the surging, unmanaged, unrecognised high octane emotions that cause TMS. The work is learning emotional literacy (knowing what anger/sadness/etc feels like, knowing the way it feels in your body, paying attention to the inner dialogue that accompanies this) and through disciplines of self-care and self-soothing learning how to feel them and express them safely.

    The goal is to be free of your symptoms.

    Actually it isn’t. All the answers are there.

    I do understand your frustration though because it took me years to experience the epiphany I needed. Before that point I used to comb the forums (here and tmshelp) for magic bullets, for the one post or piece of advice that would yield the answer.

    I used to think I was emotionally savvy, spiritually deep and in ok relationships but I was completely denying how I actually felt, how unsafe I felt every single day of my life, how conditional most of my relationships were (people-pleasing all the time)... and I never, ever, ever felt angry. Big beaming smile all the time despite the heartbreak playing out beneath the surface. It took me an age to see all this. It also took me an age to realise that while I had a great intellectual grasp on TMS, I didn’t really understand it.

    If you are really stuck then it might be because you’re not sure whether this is TMS. I spent a lot of time going over and over this in my mind because I wanted to believe it was TMS but I couldn’t make the leap of faith so I had one foot in the psychological camp and the other in the physical (looking for remedies/cures/etc). At this point there wasn’t much (any?) discussion about nerves and neuralgia in Sarno’s books or on the forums and this threw me a curve for a long time. I thought the pain, numbness, tingling and associated weirdness had to be real. I was very conflicted about this issue and endlessly sought reassurance about it.

    I had to muddle through until I finally got it. I could never afford to speak with a TMS therapist but I have noticed that this step generally benefits people and enables them to commit to their recovery. I don’t think it’s necessary though largely because there are so many incredible (and mostly free) resources out there but also because TMS healing can do no harm and only further physical healing. If nothing else it’s a great complement to all other methods of healing most likely because every illness and condition possesses an emotional component that typically goes unaddressed.

    The neurological explanations really helped me. A combination of Dr. Schubiner, Rick Hanson, Dr. David Hanscom and a garden variety of other such resources. Once I understood that my emotional state was keeping my amygdala on high alert and my physiology constantly revved up I made the connection and understood that this was a vicious cycle that I could break. For me, sleep was the first link in the chain because it calmed this over-sensitivity. Once I had a firm grasp on the neuro-psychology of TMS, I was able to return to Sarno and the more nebulous theories with tremendous insight.

    I hope this post doesn’t read like another Zen Koan. I also hope other people pitch in with their thoughts because if you’re anything like me there will come a tipping point in your understanding and from there the TMS world becomes your oyster. Please, don’t be shy about posting and interacting on the forum because this really helps tease things out.

    plum x
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
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  4. Sita

    Sita Well known member

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  5. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

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  6. whitewatersmetta

    whitewatersmetta Peer Supporter

    I love the replies you've already received, and I'll add here some concrete options that might help you jumpstart things:

    -frequent reviews of the relevant literature. You know it already, but you FORGET it in daily life. Reminders, in the form of daily reading of books or podcasts (I love Nicole Sachs podcasts, and there are lots of others) really help keep me moving forward.
    -Somatic Tracking from Alan Gordon's program on this wiki. At first I ignored it but it has been one of the most important keys for me. If you try somatic tracking and think it's a good fit, you might like Shinzen Young's book Natural Pain Relief. It also comes with free meditations.
    -Journaling. I wax and wane in my journaling, but if you're looking for something concrete to do, you can't beat journaling. I'd recommend Nicole Sachs free youtubes for guidance.
    -Active self-love and self-compassion. If you are anything like me, you might not even know what this means at all. You can find tons of guided meditations and some really good books. The App: Insight Meditation Timer has free meditations from some of the most respected self-compassion practitioners in the scientific and clinical communities. Check out Kristen Neff, Christopher Germer, Ruth King, Tara Brach, and Sharon Salzberg. This was probably the hardest and most necessary piece for me personally.

    -if you really want to try something concrete, active, and illuminating, you could try the book The Presence Process by Michael Brown. A lot of people in this community have found it to hold some really important keys to healing.

    Finally, you mentioned that you have spent hours introspecting and weren't seeing results. I had the same experience. Introspection definitely helped me understand some things in my life that were causing a lot of intense emotions. But ultimately just thinking was definitely a dead end for me. Which is hard because thinking is kinda my jam. When you find yourself introspecting, try looking for the emotional trace in the body. your chest and belly. throat. skin. maybe the muscles of your face. It's not really about looking for muscle tension, but the sort of energetic flow of emotion, if that makes sense. And focus on THAT rather than the thinking side of your emotional experience. Really investigate it...and investigate what feeling it is like. I found that my emotional body was so uncomfortable that I could see why my brain was choosing pain instead. But if you can use somatic tracking (Alan Gordon) on the emotional felt sense, then you develop more equanimity with it and it gradually becomes less intense and totally "okay" to feel. It can take some time though.

    I'm not suggesting you have to do all of these things, but hopefully something in here will be a good fit for you! Best of luck and don't give up!!!
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  7. Sita

    Sita Well known member

    Pranayama Technique (5 min):


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