The other night at dinner, my older daughter was complaining that she had injured her wrist at her aerial silks class and it hurt to hold a fork. I leaned over and asked her to show it to me. I felt around her wrist and hand a little and then went to a point near her elbow and asked her if it was tender. “Ow!” she replied. I asked her if it changed the pain in her wrist. “Yes! That makes it better!” she exclaimed. I held that point for about 45 seconds and then let go. The pain was gone and didn’t come back.
Another time I’ll never forget, I was helping a friend with knee pain. It happened to be localized on the gallbladder acupuncture meridian. Among other things, the gallbladder is associated in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with decision making. As I unwrapped some needles I asked offhandedly, “Is there some big decision you’re feeling stuck about?”
“Yes!” he answered. “I can’t decide whether or not to stay in the band I’ve been drumming for. They’re all young guys, partying hard every night, and that’s just not my scene at this time in my life. But I think they’ll hate me if I quit.” While I thought about how to respond, he closed his eyes and then let out a big sigh. “It’s gone,” he said.
“What’s gone?” I asked.
“My knee pain. It’s not there anymore.” He bent and straightened his leg a few times.
I came over and felt it. “What? How did that happen?”
“I decided to quit the band,” he smiled. “They’ll get over it.” And just like that, his knee opened up.
Dozens of times I’ve helped friends and clients reduce their pain to a zero using only breathing and visualization. Though I was trained in acupuncture, I’ve come to depend less and less on my needles over the years. It’s fortunate because I don’t always have needles with me and many people – especially my wife and kids – don’t like getting needles stuck in them. It’s forced me to get creative, and I’ve long since lost count of stories like these where someone’s pain quickly disappeared or was greatly reduced without drugs, surgery, or anything invasive.
These events aren’t evidence of some amazing gift I have; they’re a testament to our incredible potential to heal spontaneously and our ability to change how we experience pain. I used to spend way too long trying to teach this stuff to my patients in the clinic. A few years ago I decided it made more sense to just collect all the concepts and tools I use to clear pain into an online course called Live Pain Free.
I’ll be leading a FREE interactive webinar on Tuesday, July 21st to teach some of these techniques. I’m going to be explaining some basic and valuable lessons about pain that I believe everyone should know. You’ll be able to use them to manage pain for the rest of your life.
I think I’ve never been so glad to have these pain management techniques as the time I dropped the corner of a thick sheet of plywood on my bare pinky toe. I was at a lumber store, wearing flip flops (I know, bad choice of attire), carefully sliding the plywood off a high stack of wood. I didn’t realize how close the back edge was to slipping off the stack. When it dropped off the stack, it fell about five feet to land on my little toe. Sometimes you hear people say after a severe injury, “I think I was in shock. I didn’t even feel the pain.” I wish I could be so lucky.
Instead I felt – very clearly – what might have been the most exquisite pain of my life. I remember thinking, “Will I still have ten toes after this?” Luckily I had enough presence of mind to do something proactive. I grabbed my calf a few inches above my ankle and twisted the skin and underlying connective tissue on the same meridian (urinary bladder) as where the injury occurred. Instantaneously, the pain was reduced. I kept at it. A minute later there was almost no pain. After about three minutes my toe felt fine. I didn’t get to keep the toenail, but that was a small price. By the way, I teach this myofascial release technique in Live Pain Free. It’s something everyone should know.
I hope to see you at the webinar!