Mystic Light Studios has introduced a FREE video that may be of help to those folks dealing with symptoms of Fibromyalgia or stress that includes some of the therapies discussed above. Read the following article for more information about why this works so well.
Click on the image below to have a look
A NEW APPROACH FOR RELIEF OF FIBROMYALGIA PAIN
Maybe it REALLY is (at least partly) “all in our heads”? LOL
Some recent research is telling us that Fibromyalgia may be, at least partly, the result of incorrect brain processing that creates an increased feeling of pain in the body. In other words when normal non-painful pressure is applied to a muscle the brain interprets it as pain, sometimes severe pain. The whole Central Nervous System seems to be involved as well, including the spinal cord. Strange things seem to be happening in the muscles and connective tissues as well as the peripheral nervous system, which is how the muscles and connective tissue connect to the spinal cord and then the brain. This may also help explain why the pain may be widespread and why pain suppressant drugs like opioids and nsaids don’t work very well for Fibromyalgia. For a more thorough discussion visit: www.fmnetnews.com/fibro-basics/research.
Is pain good or bad??? Why do we need it???
It is both good and bad. Pain is the alert system in our body that lets us know that we’re causing or about to cause some sort of damage to our body. And often it’s how we can identify what is wrong when we are ill. For those of us that experience Fibromyalgia the pain we feel isn’t really protecting us from anything; its mostly an exaggerated response to something, or nothing at all, that others may not even notice.
How pain works.
I’m going to try to give a brief description of how this works. For a much more detailed discussion including graphics please see the links starting at http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/pain.htm. First, what is pain? To put a definition to it is difficult because it’s so personal and subjective to each individual, and is something that we can to some degree acclimate to or ignore. So the pain one person may describe as a 2 and doesn’t prevent them from getting up and going about their normal routine another person may describe as a 10 that keeps them in bed all day.
The process by which pain is felt involves several parts. You place your hand on a hot skillet, a pain receptor is activated which sends a message by way of nerve cells to your spinal cord and on up to your brain where the signal is processed and interpreted as pain. These receptors, nerves and pathways are entirely separate from the ones that detect warm, cold, touch, etc. It’s also important that these various receptors, nerves and pathways operate at different speeds and intensities.
These pain signals travel up the spine to the brain’s relay center where they where they are in turn sent out to other parts of the brain for further processing. As we all experience, some of these signals go through the motor cortex part of the brain back down the spinal cord to the appropriate muscles causing your hand to be jerked away from the hot skillet.
The brain is apparently also sending other signals down the spinal cord that influence the perception of pain. If you are given a medication that you believe will take away your pain, the chances are that the pain will go away whether or not the medication actually contains any pain reliever. Also, I remember a time several years ago when I broke a finger in the middle of an outdoor project; hurt like crazy but I kept working and the work distracted me from the pain and it actually felt better pretty quickly. Experiences like these are an indication that the brain also has the ability to alter our perception of pain by the production of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and something called the Gate Control Theory developed by Melzack and Wall in the 1960s.
The Gate Control Theory suggests that nerves which don’t transmit pain signals can interfere with signals from pain fibers (closing a gate) thereby inhibiting pain if they are activated. This helps to explain why the pain seems to be lessened when the area is rubbed; activation of non-pain fibers inhibits the firing of pain ones. Stimulation of certain areas of the brain produces analgesia by activating descending pathways that inhibit pain receptors in the spinal cord. It also activates opioid receptor-containing parts of the spinal cord.
Here is the part of all this that is of interest to those of us that experience Fibromyalgia: “Brain pathways interfere with each other, so that the brain can control the degree of pain that is perceived, based on which pain stimuli are to be ignored to pursue potential gains. The brain determines which stimuli are profitable to ignore over time. Thus, the brain controls the perception of pain quite directly, and can be “trained” to turn off forms of pain that are not “useful”. This understanding led Melzack to assert that pain is in the brain.” For a more thorough explanation of this please see these links: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gate_control_theory and http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/pain4.htm
Now, move that information to the back of your mind for a few minutes.
Now let’s talk about BRAIN WAVES
Our brains consist of a mass of cells, billions of them, which are called neurons. All these neurons talk to each other using tiny bits of electricity and chemicals such as beta-endorphins and serotonin (“feel good chemicals”). The electrical activity in the brain changes according to what the person is doing. When our brains are quite active, such as solving a math problem, and a lot of these cells are working hard to solve the problem more electrical activity is taking place which creates a shorter, faster brain wave. When our brains are resting and not very active fewer neurons are needed, less electrical activity is taking place and consequently we have a higher, slower brain wave. This electrical activity can be displayed on an instrument and measured. There are millions of brain wave levels that have been divided into 5 general ranges which include:
Gamma brainwaves which are between 30 and 100 Hz (the definition of 1 Hz is one complete cycle in 1 second so that on an EEG you would see one peak and one trough in each 1 second wave pattern) and are the brains highest function level. This is where you are ‘in the zone’. Brain activity rises to this level during heightened creativity and problem solving and are related to increased compassion, happiness, and positive attitude.
Beta brainwaves dominate during normal daily activity characterizing a state of being wide awake and alert for conversation, physical activity and things like problem solving. These brainwaves range of between 12 – 30 Hz.
Alpha brainwaves dominate during a wakeful but deeply relaxed state such as daydreaming when the brain is not processing any information. Alpha may begin almost immediately when the eyes are closed. Daydreaming, visualization and creativity are characteristic of this state as well as becoming more receptive to suggestion. Alpha brainwaves range between 8 – 12 Hz. These brainwaves are prevalent when our mind and body are relaxed and stress free. Your brainwaves move to Alpha when you come home to relax and turn on the TV. Due to the relaxed and stress free state Alpha brainwaves are the healthiest brainwave and when training the brain 10 Hz seems to be the best brainwave frequency to attain. If you start focusing on some issue you will move from alpha back to beta.
Theta brainwaves take over when we are sleeping and dreaming or when we feel emotional, extremely relaxed and unfocused, Theta brainwaves are within the range of 4 – 8 Hz. During the Theta state we experience great relaxation and are highly creative with an increased ability to think outside the box. In this state the subconscious and conscious minds are communicating which allows the more imaginative, creative thinking.
Delta brainwaves are the slowest brainwaves within the range of 1 – 4 Hz. When you enter a Delta state you are in an unconscious state rather than the subconscious state associated with Theta. There is not likely to be any conscious awareness in a Delta state. So Fibromyalgia pain is, at least partly, created in the brain, the brain has the capacity to control the level of pain we experience and when our brains are in a suggestive brainwave state we can suggest to our brains to use this gate control to minimize the pain we are feeling. What we have to do is find a way to move our brains, whenever we choose, from the normal beta brainwave activity to the Alpha and Theta brainwave states where our subconscious is taking suggestions to reduce our pain or stress or whatever. Fortunately there are ways of doing that. One is Meditation. Another is Hypnosis, preferably auto- or self-hypnosis, so you don’t need another person (therapist). Often these two can be combined for added benefit because they are very similar. I’m not so sure we shouldn’t be calling it Hypno-Meditation or something. Both (either) can be accomplished on your own, by yourself, however with the guidance of an audio or video recording it is much easier.
Meditation is about clearing all that monkey chatter from your mind and attempting to be as still minded or “mindful” as you can be, achieving a relaxed, thought-free mind in Alpha or Theta. Thoughts will come in and you will gently set them aside and keep going. Meditation can also be used to train the mind by placing suggestions into the subconscious mind so in some ways the lines between the two techniques blur here as well. We know that Buddhist monks are capable of raising and lowering their pulse, blood pressure and body temperature using meditation. Sometimes we find ourselves in this Theta state without even trying. Most of us have had the experience of driving someplace and after we get there wondering how we got there. Most likely while driving and watching car after car and building after building go by you slipped into a Theta state. If you’re involved in some project at work or school and you lean back to take a break and find yourself daydreaming that too is a Theta state. Often during these Theta states, while driving, daydreaming, showering is when we get our best ideas.
Self-Hypnosis is generally more goal oriented with the main goal to provide positive suggestions for change to the subconscious mind. You may be wanting to change some behavior; such as relieving pain, stop eating so much, stop smoking or becoming more creative or simply, more happy. As with meditation we must clear our minds to reach a mental place where these suggestions have any chance of being heard by our subconscious mind. You must have first moved your brain activity from beta through alpha and hopefully into a theta brainwave state where your subconscious is listening.
Once you are in this suggestible state, visualization, imagery and metaphor are used to communicate with the subconscious mind, to facilitate or effect the change. Think of your subconscious as the software engineer for the firmware of your brain. So literally when you change your thinking at the subconscious level you can change the way your brain operates; the way in which it (you) responds to the world around you. Video-assisted Guides use visualization and the power of our imagination to promote changes in our Subconscious Mind.
Athletes often talk about attributing their success to pre-visualizing, in great detail, the game they are about to play. The brain doesn’t know the difference between intense visualizations and actual experiences. This kind of visualization and imagery can transform your mind and enhance your performance in any area of life. The idea of ‘Mind Over Matter’ used to be thought of as just a cliche but now we know the amazing power it gives us when we learn how to use it. When given under hypnosis, suggestions about pain relief are very effective at decreasing pain sensations. Our ability to affect the outcome of our current experience can not be underrated.
Before Big Pharma, the Art of Medicine was about working with you to mobilize your own internal healing abilities. New Medicine incorrectly and negatively calls our ability to heal ourselves the “placebo effect,” trying to convince us to believe that only physicians have the power to help us-and that trying to help ourselves is foolish at best. But knowledge is power and we do have the power to help ourselves.
Both of these methods can be challenging for many people because, as we all know, our minds seem to be full of thoughts we can’t seem to shake off. This so called ‘Monkey Chatter’ is that constant rehashing in our minds about the multitude of things we all have going on in our lives-fears about the future, worries about mistakes we may have made, decisions to make, problems to solve and so on. A fair amount of practice along with the use of an audio or video guide may be necessary to become proficient at reducing and eliminating this chatter.
There are many techniques that you can use to achieve Meditation or Self-hypnosis. Progressive Relaxation or Progressive Muscle Relaxation (this is where you you tense and relax the various parts of your body sequentially from foot to head) is used frequently in both methods. Focusing on your breath and creative visualization (this is where you visualize (or imagine) walking down a beautiful path next to a babbling brook and so on). Concentrating on your breathing – in and out – is often very helpful. Repeating a word or mantra over and over or focusing on a point in space or a spot on a wall or on a candle flame or counting can be helpful for many people.
Whether you’re doing hypnosis or meditation you might imagine taking a guided walk down a beautiful forrest path next to a babbling brook, walking on a beach or climbing a mountain to become deeply relaxed and still. Staying in this relaxed meditative state will provide new insights and improved frame of mind. You might then continue on in this mindful state and make suggestions to your subconscious mind.
How do we get our brains to do that quickly and easily? Entrainment is the answer.
Entrainment is the synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles. It is a fundamental feature in nature that operates in chemistry, physiology, physics, astronomy, human brain function and so forth. Brain entrainment is about using rhythmic sounds and visual flicker rates to move or synchronize the brain to the proper brainwave where meditation or hypnosis can facilitate the incorporation of suggestions for change. This is called the Frequency Following Response. In fact, the brain is affected by any kind of rhythm such as musical sounds, metronome clicks, drum beats and light flickers or flashes. Even vibrations or electric pulses have the ability to affect the brain in this way. In fact, many ancient cultures used drums to enter deeply relaxed states during Shamanic rituals. Though they may not have called it brainwave entrainment, there is evidence that the rhythmic stimulus of the drum could have been the cause of the Hypnotic states reported during such rituals. This is nothing new, outrageous, off the wall, ridiculous, voodoo or woo woo. Most of us have been exposed to this daily for our entire lives. Like sleeping or breathing, self-hypnosis, is a completely natural state. Everytime you fall asleep and again when you wake up, you are in a self-hypnotic state. Whenever you drive a car or read a book or magazine, take a relaxing walk, or become completely focused in a task, this is a state of self-hypnosis. You have been exposed to this every time you watch TV or listen to the radio. When you watch TV whether it is the programming or the advertising your brain is being entrained by the flicker of the screen, the frame rate of the moving pictures, the movement of the objects and the movement of the camera panning, tilting, zooming, changing shot direction and so forth. We experience this same flicker effect at the movies. There is a reason why after leaving the movie “Titanic” it didn’t seem as though you had been sitting there for 3 1/2 hours, except of course that your backside was really sore. Most people are unaware that when they turn on their TV sets or computer screens to watch a video that what they are seeing is actually a stream of still images that the brain sees as flicker. On a conscious level we don’t see this at all but at the subconscious level the flickering of the images creates brainwaves similar to hypnosis. This is that Frequency Following Response. Within a few seconds of watching a video program on a TV or computer screen brainwaves change from mostly Beta to mostly Alpha and Theta and because of this information can be transmitted to the subconscious mind similar to hypnosis. With all this new science around the brain’s involvement with fibomyalgia symptoms Hypnosis is now becoming one of the best alternative treatments available for fibromyalgia pain and in many cases, enlightened physicians are considering Hypnosis as a treatment alternative. Even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has now recommended that Hypnosis be used as part of a treatment regime for chronic pain, like that caused by fibromyalgia.
So with all this new information in mind maybe we should consider giving this approach a try. How do we get started using this technology to ease our pain? The first few of things to consider are: Do not expect instant results. it may take many times to train your brain to do this-maybe even up to 30 days or even 90 days for a few of us-but be persistent, the results in the end will be well worth it. The vast majority of us are suggestible-a few of us have a very difficult time accepting any suggestion and a few of us are very suggestible the very first time we try it. Naturally most of us fall somewhere in the middle of the curve. As I mentioned earlier, for most of us, especially when we are beginning with this, a video-assisted guide my be really useful. There are a lot of audio guides available but not many that use the very important video portion along with the audio. It’s an easy way to get started because you have a guide that helps you focus and relax. Keep in mind these guides will not put you into an Hypnotic state but rather will arrange circumstances to increase the likelihood of your shifting into your alpha and theta states on your own. As always, don’t try this without the approval of your healthcare provider especially if you use a pacemaker or are pregnant and NEVER use video-assisted guides if you experience any kind of seizure. For best results, if you’re using video-assisted guides, sit closer to the screen with the ambient light turned down. It’s not necessary to pay a lot of money for a hypnotherapist unless you feel you need that extra support. I would invite you to experience the following video that features a sample of a video-assisted guided session at the following link:
Mystic Light Studios has introduced a FREE video that may be of help to those folks dealing with symptoms of Fibromyalgia or stress that includes some of the therapies discussed above. Click on the below image to have a look.