The well-known English Idiom; The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back is often a useful reference offering a more digestible explanation as well as a more personal connection for those attempting to gain understanding and equally to heal from an apparent “sudden” onset of pain.
What is generally overlooked as a contribution to the onset of peculiar pain is the interactive self. While resilience through life’s trials, defined as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change” has its value in preserving our personal roles and responsibilities and on some levels contributes to sustaining our personal fortitude to persevere. Yet if we look closer, can it pose a disruption to true healing and therefore when in excess contribute to the establishment of chronic pain?
What needs to be recognized is the outward expression of resilience is occurring within one’s living and adaptable central nervous system. Through a manifestation called neuroplasticity our collective inputs and outputs communicated through the brain become over time as the brain “sees it” to be our new normal. So as one limps to work or the store after the weekend’s hiking mishap, a combined protection, and a need to press on imprint on the nervous system is made. Or as one repetitively leans to one side to relieve their back from the aching demands at the factory or one slouches over their computer for hours at a time, an altered postural imprint on the nervous system is made. And as one tenses up with regret or is belittled to a sense of unworthiness, a fearful-closing-in imprint on the nervous system is made. Throughout life, as one presses onward through one noble cause after another (all the while loading the straws of life’s mishaps and trials yet failing to fully heal) a lingering imprint on the nervous system is made. Such an accumulative existence over time can and often does establish itself to varying degrees within one’s life as the new normal – unfortunately also as a pain stirring source, leading to frustration, depletion of hope and ultimately a diminishing quality of life.
For such persons to once and for all rid themselves of their persistent painful existence, it must be recognized that their lingering source of pain production has become rooted or hard wired into their communication of nerves and in particular one’s combined circuitry of motor control and emotional responsiveness. While each person’s history of injuries varies greatly and therefore their existence of being and respective needs are unique to them, what is universal and therefore the most powerful ingredient in personalizing the process for resolving chronic pain is addressing the pathology within each person’s motor related protective patterns coinciding with the most essential physical aspects supporting one’s day to day life movement requirements.
What is fascinating to me as a therapist is no one taught us at birth to breathe and no one taught us on a motor level to walk, or to reach, or to eat, or to talk, or to think… and yet each of these created to be natural developments can progressively erode concurrently within the establishment of chronic pain. Within these vast capacities of ourselves, the essential breath on a hierarchical level is the master link and therefore the essential component for resolving chronic pain. All other existences are subservient to our ability to fully breathe and ideally to breathe without compensation.
If movement is associated with pain or has become labored, we protect and in doing so hold our breath. If our lives coexist with anxiety and we fear, even subconsciously, we hold our breath. Repetitively holding our breath commands adaptations of our natural design to leverage other physical means to literally survive.
Resolving chronic pain therefore requires us to recognize the painful existence as literally now encompassing our very being. Knowing now “how this establishment of chronic pain happened” does not make it easy to resolve, but the great news is knowing how it happens makes it possible to resolve. We cannot change our history; however, we can change the impact our history and even our present moment has on our future selves… by unweighting the impact of our straws.
Breathing, is the first and the last thing we do in life… it must be important. Beyond the life it preserves, it reflects the life we are living. Begin today unweighting the straws that are absorbing your existence. By restoring the health of the vessel created to carry you through life’s journey we give new breath to life and in the process, one likely will also find a pathway for replenishing the clarity of their mind as well as the levity of their spirit.