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Trying to challenge pain from lying down. Should I continue?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by astronom, Dec 29, 2019.

  1. astronom

    astronom New Member

    Hi. First post here and hoping someone with some experience can offer me a piece of advice. I would be very grateful.

    I read Dr. Sarno's book a couple of years ago and after about a year felt much better in my body. I had struggled with headache and back pain for around 10 years. I still, at times, have some problems, but I try not to give it too much attention, and try to think psychologically.

    Theres is one thing that is still bothering me. Every time I lie on my back with my legs straight I get a lot of back pain in the right side of the lower back. I know it logically makes no sense, but I thinks part of it comes from conditioning from people (physical therapists, yoga teachers) who always told me, during my years of much pain, to put a pillow or a rolled up blanket under my knees to be able to relax my lower back. The pain is so intense that it also gives me a headache.

    Although I already knew, I just recently discovered how much I avoid lying down - still through these last couple of years, when I have been relatively pain free. I am tired of having to fear such a benign activity and I know that my fear of doing it keeps me in a state of subtle anxiety.

    The last couple of days I have been trying to lie down with my legs straight whenever I felt like it and tried not listening to the fear. I read how Steve Ozanich overcame his pain from sitting down, and have tried applying the same method. I also try and focus my attention to the muscles on the left side of the lower back which feels fine when lying down and in my head telling myself that I can't hurt myself.

    I am still not feeling any better and actually my pain is much worse also throughout the rest of the day, since I have a harder time focusing on other things, when the pain is so intense.
    I do feel good that I am challenging my fear, and hopefully learning my brain not to fear lying down. But I also feel like I am giving the pain back some of it's old power over me.

    I guess my question is: Should I keep on going even though I am in a lot of pain? Do you have any advice on how I overcome this pain from lying down?

    Thank you.
  2. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    If you are relaxing or meditating to get quiet so you can focus on repressed rage than maybe that might help.... but otherwise it's actually counterproductive. You'll get no results... relaxing the conscious mind isn't at the crux of the problem. Turning the conscious mind into the sewer will get you results. We are/were instructed to turn our minds to unsavory topics when we find our attention is on the body/symptoms.

    Your quote there IS the problem and is a very ANTI-Sarno. Re-read...you are focusing your attention on the muscles? I know you said you focused on the non painful side, but it's still focusing on the body... No good! That is the very antithesis of TMS recovery theory as explained in Sarno's books, whether direct instructions or inference. The point of TMS is to get you to focus on the Body... the more you focus on the body the less you focus on the realm of emotions, psychology, etc.... so you are actually consciously doing TMS's work for it and reinforcing the outward focus... no matter how 'close' it seems, your body and muscles are the 'outward'.

    Inward is Low self esteem, my shitty marriage, my Father dying, my loneliness, my shame. I do get quiet and focus on THESE and then the symptoms go away... like a kid taking his bat and ball and going home the TMS only goes away when it is no longer the Belle of the Ball.

    I have noticed that TMS attempts to 'get me' when I relax.... It's almost like it knows that right before I go to bed I don't want to write, rage, reflect.... Sarno wrote about that and I have found it to be true... the 'weekend vacation syndrome'. When we're up and moving around we have no time to think.... when we get quiet, TMS in it's attempt to 'protect us' gives us the symptom lest that scary repressed thing float to the surface...consciously diving in mentally at the unsavory stuff tells your brain you don't need it's help!

    You might want to focus on how angry you are at the doctors who told you that there is a 'way' to sleep? Before I recovered I slept face down with my head cranked up reading . Doctors told me to stop and 'sleep' right. As part of recovery I went back to sleeping face down... and haven't had any more issues.

    It's always in our life OR in your case, was in your life and morphed into conditioning. Break it .... you can do it really fast. Like days...
    nowa likes this.
  3. astronom

    astronom New Member

    Thanks a lot for your answer.

    I'm a trying to think psychologically and focus on the repressed rage. As I wrote I had great results with this a couple of years ago, although I never fully felt I have become pain-free. This is actually one of the first times I am talking about since discovering Dr. Sarno, since I have had great success not talking about and not thinking about it and instead focus on living my life.

    But now I feel that I have to challenge myself to lie down, otherwise it will always be in the back of my mind as a fear that keeps feeding the pain.

    But I feel totally overwhelmed by pain when lying down and find it very hard to think psychologically in this situation. I read in Steve Ozanich's book how he successfully forced his attention to the healthy part of the body, that's why I tried that method. It does feel better than having my attention on the painful area, but any advice on how to approach this situation in a more helpful way would be much appreciated.

    I find it easier to think psychologically about the pain I'm feeling in general during the day, but the pain from lying down seems very conditioned and overwhelming and I find that very hard to handle.
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    It ain't easy. It might be one of the harder things we ever have to do... but I assure you it does work.

    Like I said... I never use anybody's work for a reference except Sarno's and he strongly avoids anything to do with the body... remember he even fired his Physical therapists because some people were getting placebo responses and it was still focusing on the body...and his success numbers improved!!

    That's great! ' The road gets narrower'.

    I have had many friends who got well from reading "healing back pain"... and then went and had shoulder surgery three years later. They all, to a man, said the same thing "well this was REAL"...and then so was their TMJ, their ulcer and their RSI,etc,etc... They reached a point where there development needed to move on but for whatever reason, they were afraid to go deeper...and got lost.

    Go deeper.
  5. astronom

    astronom New Member

    Thank you. When practising lying down I am trying to force my mind onto a good book or a great movie to try and be kind to myself and move focus away from the pain. I also found this answer on this forum from a TMS therapists on the topic of conditioning which I found helpful.

    The tricky thing about it is that by challenging the conditioning I feel more pain in that moment but it also makes my general feeling of pain more intense. I know that I won't hurt myself, that it is not dangerous, and that I have to go through it in order to get better, but I still find the anxiety connected to the intensified pain hard to deal with.

    I am also unsure of how much I should "think psychologically" about the conditioned pain or if I should just focus on trying to focus elsewhere than pain and try to find soothing in spite of the feeling by reading a good book, etc.. Since I know it makes no sense that pain comes when I try to lie down I find it hard to find the psychological reasons behind it.

    I did find this answer from a TMS Therapist (Alan Gordon's fourth answer on that page) which says:

    "When pain comes on because you're engaging in physical position or activity that has become linked with pain, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're repressing a feeling at that moment. Pain as a function of repression and pain as a function of conditioned responses are two different things."

    So maybe I am just overthinking it trying to find psychological reason in my life causing my conditioned pain?
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020
  6. astronom

    astronom New Member

    To phrase my questions a little more precisely:

    How do I differentiate between the pain from conditioning and the pain as physical distraction from psychological issues?

    And what approach should I take to each of these?

    Of course the conditioning is also psychological and the physical distraction is in some way conditioned, so I find it hard to tell them apart. Right now while I'm in the process of challenging my pain from lying down my pain in general has flared up, which makes it even harder to say which is which.
    I will say though that I have a feeling of being on the right path. I go from excruciating pain when lying down sometimes, and then suddenly an hour later lying down with no pain at all and a feeling of deep relaxation that I haven't felt in a looong time. When I'm able to lie down with no pain I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratefulness and compassion for myself, which are things I otherwise struggle with.
    It's hard when the pain comes back again, but I try to breath through it and tell myself that I need to be a little patient with the rewiring of my brain.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  7. AnonymousNick

    AnonymousNick Peer Supporter

    We'd have no syndrome if the origin was not a psychological conflict that started the symptom(s). For the lucky ones, perhaps their emotional issue has already cleared (maybe temporarily) and all they need to do is understand the benign nature of the pain and challenge the fear of injury. But if internal conflicts continue then it makes sense that the symptoms will also. It will get very frustrating to be trying to duke it out with symptoms and "de-condition" yourself when the feelings are not being addressed as well. That's my experience of it, and it can just function as an extension or variation of the distraction at that point to think so much about conditioning. Everything should ostensibly point back to emotional issues/conflicts and that's where I've had the most relief and progress. Get out of the physical and into the psychological! Something in your life that you're saying to yourself is okay but really is not. Conditioning is a real thing, but if you've had some success with other symptoms and this one is so intractable, I'd be looking at my life in general. Good luck.
    nowa likes this.
  8. astronom

    astronom New Member

    Hi Nick, thank you for your answer, means a lot to me.

    I definitely feel I have issues regarding my attitude towards myself. I have been aware of it for the last couple of years, but I recently realised just how badly I often treat myself and how much pressure I put on myself to be good and do everything perfectly.

    I am trying to think psychologically, but I find it hard to see how the pain from lying down connects to my repressed emotions and why I should be "repressing more" when lying down. I know there is also fear involved because I have learned to expect the pain when lying down.

    In any case, I will try and get into the psychological, both regarding the emotional issues and the fear of the pain. Hopefully, in time, I will also be able to find out if those two things are connected and why.
  9. Jeather

    Jeather Peer Supporter

  10. Jeather

    Jeather Peer Supporter

    I have tried similar things after reading about Steve O... it sounds so hard but worth it to do the things he did when he challenged and then the pain was gone. He had some grit. But after a couple of attempts (trying to remain lying down and letting the pain come and then go in hip and back and legs), the pain just came and didn't go and overall got worse until I am in a rough place now. I guess the gentler approach is what I need to do.

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