By Roberta Fernandez, BCH, CI, CPHI
Pain. Just the word itself hurts—and causes major stress.
The sciatica shooting sharply down your leg.
The agonizing contractions of childbirth.
The constant aching and throbbing of that migraine.
The constant pain and exhaustion of fibromyalgia.
Drugs for that pain: Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet. For a few weeks, a few months, years.
What if you could feel pain differently?
What if you could turn down the volume—or not feel pain at all?
I am a Board-Certified Hypnotist and Certified Instructor at The FARE Hypnosis Center in Eden Prairie, Minnesota—and literally my own “walking” testimonial for hypnosis. I used hypnosis, a natural state of mind, to successfully manage my pain after a total bilateral knee replacement (both knees at the same time). I simply used self-hypnosis instead of pain pills, and I had no pain.
Sally, a client of mine, suffered from fibromyalgia for twenty years. She would begin experiencing pain in her neck and shoulders, and then the pain would spread down into her chest and body, typically in the early afternoon while working. Her pain interfered greatly with her work, and sometimes caused her to be unable to drive home. She was extremely sensitive to touch, to the extent that even having sheets touch her body could be extremely uncomfortable. Every day she would have to nap around 4 p.m. so she could make it through the rest of the day. Fibromyalgia dictated nearly every aspect of her life.
We spent time managing her stress and I gave her multiple suggestions for how she said she would rather feel. She is now able to perceive her discomfort in a different way and turn down the volume on any other sensations. After just 12 hypnosis sessions, Sally now uses self-hypnosis every day to manage her level of comfort. She is working more, has eliminated her 4 p.m. naps and is nearly pain free. She has her life back! You can listen to Sally tell her story here, along with two other clients who have used hypnosis to manage their level of comfort.
Pain and Your Brain
There is no processing center in your brain for pain like there is for sight or hearing. Signals are sent from the injured area letting the brain know that something is wrong. The brain decides if it is a real danger. For example, let’s say you were crossing the street and you fell and broke your ankle. You look up and see a bus coming at you and it can’t stop. Your brain might perceive the bus as a bigger threat, so you would get up and run out of the way, feeling nothing of your broken ankle. After you got to safety, the brain may then perceive the danger and your ankle would start to hurt.
How you experience pain is based on your environment, your emotions, perceptions, your previous experiences, and the experiences you’ve heard from others. Your brain determines whether or not you feel pain, and it chooses how you perceive it.
Many neuroscience experiments have proven that the brain cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is vividly imagined or emotionally felt. Imaging equipment, like functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRIs), have shown that very similar areas of your brain that process thoughts (I think I’m moving my finger), also process the actual doing (I’m really moving my finger).
Drs. Guang Yue and Kelly Cole conducted a study that looked at two groups over four weeks, one that exercised a finger, and one that imagined exercising the finger. In the end, the group that had actually done the finger exercise had increased strength of 30%. The group that had only imagined exercising the finger had increased strength of 22%! You can actually manifest your thoughts.
Hypnosis enables you to turn down the volume of your pain, and to also change perception—even coating—of the pain.
Cleaning Your Emotional House and Putting Your Imagination to Work
Science has also shown us that the brain processes physical and emotional pain in the same way. So, you could lose someone you love or cut your hand off, and the brain would process how you “feel” these two different things the same way. This is why it’s common for people who have experienced loss to say that their heart feels like it’s breaking—we feel the emotion in the place associated with love.
Why is this important in managing pain? Because 25% of people with chronic pain have never had surgery or an injury. Their pain is emotion that has manifested physically. Because it is common for all types of chronic pain to have both physical and emotional components, using hypnosis is an effective way to get rid of the negative emotion and limiting beliefs, and bring positive additions to a now clean house.
Because the brain cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is vividly imagined, I use creative techniques for clients in pain. A client had constant headaches every day for five years, sometimes so bad that she could not function for days at a time. Her doctor said there was nothing to be done about fixing the arthritis and stenosis in her neck, and her pain served no purpose. The client told me that she had gotten relief from two very painful shots, but they were only meant to last 24 hours. In hypnosis, she re-experienced those shots in a pleasant way, and imagined the irritated nerves shrinking away to nothing. I taught the client self-hypnosis, she practices giving herself those beautiful shots for a few minutes every day, and she has had virtually no headaches since.
A Perfect Complement
Hypnosis is complementary to your doctor’s pain management protocol, with no negative side effects or addiction. You can easily learn to utilize the natural power of your mind to take back control of your comfort level through self-hypnosis.
About the Author
Roberta Fernandez, BCH, CI, CPHI has 30 years of experience in education, training, sustainability and finance, working across public and private sectors. You can order a copy of Roberta’s book, Breaking Free from Pain and Opioids: Discovering the Hypnosis Option, on amazon.com or from her online store at FAREHypnosis.com/online-store/. At the time of this printing, Roberta is currently using hypnosis for weight loss and has lost thirty pounds. She practices The 7th Path® Self Hypnosis program on a daily basis. She uses hypnosis to help others become more positive, productive and purposeful in achieving their life goals.