Riding the Wave of Pain

When you breathe, there is a beginning and crest and then an ending.  It is like that with everything:  Sound, sensation, thought, emotions and fatigue.

Everything has a wave and when you can track it, it will help to diffuse the experience.  Riding the wave is a foundational concept in many arenas, and my focus will be on the concept from Duke University Yoga of Awareness Program.  Let’s use pain as an example. 

We tend to talk about our sensation in absolutes, yet it changes.  Even if the sensation is chronic, it still has movement. 

When you begin to notice the pain and track the different sensations associated with it you will take the emotional charge out of it.

To begin to cultivate noticing the wave, try this:

  • Find a place in your body where you are feeling sensation or pain
  • First imaging a wave and think about how it begins, crests and then lessens.
  • Now, without using words to judge it, simply track it and say what you are experiencing.  For example:  It might be a burning sensation that shifts into a stinging or throbbing.  It might move down your leg and pulse or feel hot or cold. 
  • Notice the sensation from the onset, to the crest and the decline.  You might have many of these, but there each has movement when you really pay attention.

This will take practice but the research out of Duke Integrative Medicine, supports that when we are mindful of the entire wave of sensation we take our reaction out of the equation.  Pain and it is exacerbated by our judgments. 

Let me know in the comments below if you were able to work with the wave of sensation.  Was it challenging to name the experiences without any judging description?  Feel free to share your experience.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

Leave a Comment (0) →

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Improve with Breathing Practices

Article: Slow Breathing May Soothe Pain:  February 08, 2010 Pain journal

Authors:  Reuters interview with Dr. Alex J. Zautra:  Psychology professor at Arizona State University

Fibromyalgia patients need help dealing with the physical and emotional reactions to chronic pain.

Objective:  The study gauged pain responses among 27 women with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia and 25 healthy women the same age.  The study looked at the effects of becoming more aware of your breathing.

 Results:  Researchers found that when they had the women perform slow breathing; it dampened their reactions to a moderately painful stimulus.

Overall, the women rated the pain intensity as lower and reported less emotional discomfort when they slowed their normal breathing rate down by half.

Conclusions:  How we breathe" does alter perceptions of and responses to pain.  The findings suggest that breathing techniques could offer an additional way to deal with fibromyalgia or other types of chronic pain.

"It is not 'all in your head, but it may be in your brain."

Custom Calm founder, Ellen Sichel has trained with the originators of evidenced based programs for  Mindful Based Stress Reduction and  Yoga of Awareness for Fibromyalgia and incorporates many of the techniques used into Custom Calm programs.  The practices are non-invasive and easy to learn, offering lifelong support for both patients and their loved ones. 

Posted in: This Stuff Works

Leave a Comment (0) →

Chronic Pain Costs U.S more than Heart Disease

Washington Institute of Medicine study published in the Philadelphia Enquirer June 30: 

Nearly a third of Americans experience long-lasting pain costing the nation at least $558 billion a year in medical bills, sick days and lost productivity.

“We are viewing this as a critical issue for the U.S.” said Philip Pizzo, Stanford University dean of medicine.

All kinds of ailments can trigger lingering pain, from arthritis to cancer, spine problems to digestive disorders, injuries to surgery. Chronic pain can also be a disease all its own, the report stressed.

Dr. Doris Cope, pain chief at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center states:

“Too many think a pill’s the answer, when there are many ways to address pain.  The population is getting older and less fit, and more survivors of diseases such as cancer live for many years with side effects from treatments.”

The article concludes:  Too few doctors are trained to manage pain as well as insurance might not cover time consuming counseling in pain-management techniques, consultations with specialists, or even nondrug care.

It is clear that other options are needed.  Custom Calm techniques are a cost effective way to lower pain.  Teaching clients how to take charge of reducing their pain gives them the ability to greatly improving their daily living.

Posted in: This Stuff Works

Leave a Comment (0) →

Susan Avoids Back Surgery

Susan’s Challenges

I have experienced low back pain for several years.  Over time, it got progressively worse.  The pain brought me to seek medical attention and I was diagnosed with two ruptured discs and severe degenerative disc disease.  Surgery was recommended.  I was willing to try anything and to avoid surgery.


What Susan Tried

Acupuncture was suggested along with yoga.  I had been practicing yoga for 10 years but had only experienced moderate relief.  I tried several Chiropractors before I began the practice Ellen showed me. 


What Worked

Custom Calm yoga was introduced through series of coincidences.  I began a daily practice along with acupuncture.  I experienced relief within several weeks.  I continue to practice Custom Calm yoga on a daily basis, including bed yoga  and have no pain for over 12 years.

 In addition, my range of motion has been restored to near normalcy.  The healing I have experienced though Custom Calm yoga has been miraculous.  I feel more energized, look younger and am no longer limited in my day-to-day living.  I would recommend Custom Calm practices to anyone interested in improving their quality of life.  It keeps me off the operating table and out of constant pain.  IT WORKS!!


What you can learn from Susan’s Experiences

When we are looking for ways to help ourselves when facing pain, we try many venues.  Even yoga practices are not all the same and Custom Calm practices are specifically customized to target specific tensions in the body.  Susan is committed to avoiding surgery and she practices simple techniques daily.  The physical practices also affect energy level and overall health.  Susan’s daily life has changed dramatically from the practices.

Posted in: This Stuff Works

Leave a Comment (0) →

Lynn Suffered from Chronic Back Pain and Poor Posture

Lynn’s Challenge

I lived with chronic pain.  My right hip was frozen and it hurt all day long.  I have a sway back and my low back would lock up at times.  My shoulders rolled forward, my belly protruded and my overall posture was terrible.

What Lynn Tried

I tried many different practices including yoga in the past.  Also, I go for deep massage, which does help, but I was still in pain.

What Worked

Step by step, over time with the practice of Custom Calm yoga, my hip began to open up and as a result, others areas of my body opened and straightened up as well.

The yoga quieted my mind and relaxed my body.  I think the support has been the key to my body and my mind finally relaxing and accepting joy and ease.

The Yoga Therapy totally melted the tension in my hip muscles so much so that whenever we began a session, the muscle remembered the treatment and would soften to Ellen's touch.

Over time, my yoga practice has become a central part of my life, opening me up to real happiness and contentment. The daily practice has slowed and relaxed my mind and my body resulting in a “being comfortable in my own skin” feeling that stays with me all day. I have come to know a depth to my Self that I did not know existed and was afraid to experience.

My posture has changed, the chronic pains have subsided, I breathe more fully, my state of mind is calm, and life is full of joy.   The yoga and the yoga therapy have brought me internal peace in an ever-changing, fragile world. And the deeper I go, the better it gets.

What you can learn from Lynn’s Experiences

Lynn was motivated by pain to explore other avenues.  Lynn embraced the practices and committed to home practice, which expedited her healing.  When Lynn's body became more open and relaxed, it resulted in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual changes as well.  It is all connected.   At times yoga is not enough and Lynn was able to work individually through yoga therapy to speed up her process of healing.    Lynn’s experiences show the life changing power of consistent practice Custom Calm techniques.


Posted in: This Stuff Works

Leave a Comment (0) →

Hope After Loss of a Loved One

Carol’s Challenges

The loss of my husband, both parents and other family members to cancer had repercussions that were both physical and emotional. I had continual back and neck pain and it was very difficult for me to deal with the losses emotionally.

What did Carol do to help herself?

I am grateful for what I receive from my classes with Ellen. I use the Adapted Yoga poses I learned from her in my daily life and they are very helpful in relieving my back pain brought on by travel. I am thankful that I now know how to take care of my body when it hurts. I am learning to be aware of my breathing which helps reduce my stress level. Since I began participating in classes with Ellen, my lower back feels better than ever before. My emotional and spiritual well-being has been greatly enhanced.

What can you learn from Carol's Experience?

Experiencing loss has both physical and emotional consequences. It is often easier to help ourselves emotionally first, by using techniques to relax the body, and then use practices to calm the mind. The Custom Calm techniques that Carol uses are easy for her to incorporate into her life and have improved her overall well-being tremendously.


Posted in: This Stuff Works

Leave a Comment (0) →