A Somatic Therapy Approach
The frustration of chronic pain
Chronic pain, aside from being physically excruciating, can take a huge toll on a person’s spirit. Living with continual pain demands enormous amounts of energy, which is draining not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well.
Then, as if this weren’t enough, many people find the search for answers completely fruitless. Even with a diagnosis, such as fibromyalgia, health care providers are often at a loss to help. It can be terribly demoralizing.
There is hope, however.
Many people do find answers, and healing, and may be able to lessen or even eliminate their pain. Sometimes people find what they need through a traditional medical approach, and sometimes through complementary approaches such as functional medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, nutrition, naturopathy, and acupuncture, to name a few.
And sometimes somatic therapy is the approach that finally gets results.
Massage Therapy and Hakomi Therapy both have the potential to offer healing from chronic pain. It may take a few sessions to determine which will be the most effective for you, or we may find it helpful to somehow combine the two.
Massage Therapy can help in numerous ways. It has the ability to reduce tension, oxygenate tissues, release chronic restrictions, facilitate spinal alignment, and improve circulation, digestion, hormonal activity, and detoxification. Any of these can have a significant impact on pain.
If Massage Therapy is unable to make enough of a difference, Hakomi Therapy may be able to address it on a different level. To understand how Hakomi can potentially address chronic pain, let’s first look at some of the many possible causes, which are as varied and individual as we all are. We could divide these possible causes into two groups, the Known, and the Unknown.
Here are some commonly cited Known Possible Causes:
- Nerve damage
- Major illness or infection
- Misaligned or injured spinal vertebrae
- Inadequate nutrition
- Lack of oxygen to the tissues
- Reduced levels of key hormones and neuropeptides
- Elevated levels of stress hormones
- Excessive muscle tension
- Lack of exercise
- Poor sleep
- Unresolved trauma
- Unresolved emotions, such as grief, anger, or fear
This is only a partial list. There are many more Known Possible Causes. So getting comprehensive diagnostic work is an important first step. If specific causes are identified, treatment options may become clear.
But far too often, the tests are inconclusive, or the treatments are ineffective. Doctors may suggest that “it’s all in your head,” or that they simply don’t know.
Which brings us to Unknown Possible Causes.
And this is where Hakomi can shine a rather brilliant light. It’s not a cure-all, but it has helped alleviate chronic pain for many people who have found little help elsewhere. It works by accessing the vast intelligence of your body.
Intelligence in this body??
It may be hard to believe that there’s any intelligence at work in a body so wracked with pain. And yet the complexity of the human body is mind-boggling. There are trillions of processes that are going on every moment in your body, within cells, organs, and systems. And somehow, beyond all comprehension, the body manages to orchestrate all this information. There’s no way you could do this consciously with your mind. Yet somehow, unconsciously, your body manages to do it.
Here’s the thing to remember: Your body can only work with the information and materials it has. If you’re undernourished, or have unresolved emotions, or nerve impingements – or any of a million other possibilities – your body will have to do the best it can with incomplete resources.
Whenever anything is missing, or incomplete, or harmful, your body will let you know through some kind of pain signal. It may be strong or mild, physical or emotional, but somehow your body will let you know that something’s not right. Hakomi’s healing potential comes through teaching you to understand the language of your body.
Learning how to listen to your body
Your body doesn’t speak in nouns and verbs. It speaks with tension and relaxation, warmth and cold, expansion and contraction, joy and sadness. It communicates, not with sentences but with inklings, hunches, impulses, intuitions. There’s an unfathomable depth of information inside you, just waiting to be accessed.
Hakomi Therapy is a process of interacting with these sensations, feelings, and hunches in a way that gently teases out the information. It’s really quite a beautiful dance, and what you learn about yourself will often astound you. Many things that were formerly baffling or aggravating actually start to make sense. You begin to understand the changes your body is asking for, and once you make those changes, the pain is no longer needed. The pain, after all, was your body’s way of asking for the change.
I’m not trying to paint this as a “magic bullet.” Not everyone finds it helpful. But many of my clients with chronic pain have seen their pain lessen to some degree – some moderately, and others dramatically.
Once you understand the language of your body, you realize your body is no longer your “enemy.” What was once just a barrage of pain now becomes a steady stream of information – physical, emotional, chemical, electrical information – seeking to bring your whole being back into balance. Understanding this information allows your mind and body to work together in a harmonious feedback loop.
Schedule a session by emailing me or by calling me at (616) 262-3848.
Learn more about Hakomi Therapy.
Learn more about the Benefits of Massage Therapy.