The Surprising Memory that Transformed Migraine
I’ve written before how being in pain trains your brain to get good at creating pain. I’d like to share with you what led me to transforming my experience of migraine.
And just what the heck that has to do with Mr Spock.
February 2016. A wipe-put migraine attack.
I wake up with a stabbing pain deep in my left eye, throbbing ache in my temple and fighting waves of nausea.
I start working though my muscles; hunting for the usual trigger point suspects. Trapezius shoulder muscles – nope. SCM neck muscles – nope. Masseter jaw muscles – nope.
Am I treating myself with kindness and compassionate curiosity?
No, not I am not.
Am I basically doing everything I advise my clients not to do? Yes, yes I am.
(Note to my clients reading this: when I say to you I understand how frustrating a flare-up feels. And that I mess up too. I really do mean it.)
I slowly work around my eyes. In the left corner of my eye, by the bridge of my nose – bam! I find it. Pain intensifies, nausea gut punches me. Horrible.>
But, this happens too.
I hear a quiet voice go: “Nah. That can’t be right. That tiny muscle opens and closes my paper thin eyelid. There’s no way it can produce this heap of troublesome symptoms”.
And with that thought, a small space of quiet appears.
I think – “What if what I’m suffering right now isn’t coming from a physical trigger point in my muscles? What if it’s coming from my brain?”
A distant memory floats back from my childhood.
When I was a kid I used to get crippling belly ache. I was told to drink milk. It didn’t help.
Only one thing did. Pretending to be Mr Spock. Yep, that Mr Spock of Star Trek fame.
Imagining I could “Spock” my pain away
Back to the present day. I’m thinking, if I could do that as a kid, why not as a grown up?
Hollywood ending would be immediately the hurt melted, clouds parted, birds sang and all was hunky dory. Well. Not quite. And that was OK because now I had a new avenue to explore.
Reading the science of how even when the physical cause is no longer present, the brain doesn’t always get the memo. So your brain carries on producing a reaction, producing your symptoms. Way to go, brain.
And I’ve been exploring that avenue ever since.
Learning techniques to untrain your brain. Techniques that help you deliver that memo to your brain and so change the outcome. It takes practice. But you can learn how to swap unhelpful patterns by untraining your brain.
One technique involves using something you have with you all the time. Your breath
Try this mind-body technique
As you sit there, notice how you feel. Now, keeping your breathing regular, begin to breathe out a little more than you breathe in. Breathe in to the count of seven. Breathe out to the count of eleven. Repeat five times.
What you’ve just done is tap into your rest and digest part of your nervous system. The bit that lets you know you’re OK. That you are safe.
Notice how you feel now. A little more at ease? A little less physical tension?
If not, no worries. All that’s needed is to develop your body awareness. You can learn how to do that. It takes practice and patience, but with time you’ll get there.
Live long and prosper, my friends (couldn’t resist saying that!).
Exciting News: Changing Migraine Pilot Program 14 June – 23 July
Whether you would like to learn how your brain creates and deals with pain or have the space and and support to practice, my Changing Migraine Pilot Program is for you.
This 6-week program begins 14th June. Join us and learn how to change your migraine story.
Sign up and discover more at Changing Migraine Pilot Program.