Stopped short. Pain out of nowhere…and it recurred over and over with increasing frequency and intensity. It was a mystery. I hadn’t hurt myself in any way that would warrant it. I couldn’t even track what movement caused it. But the laser-like sensations zeroed in on my trunk, and the points shifted inexplicably, as if it wanted to remain elusive. It literally brought me up sharp, halting motion.
I began to have real concern, particularly on how such transient pain, consistent only in its constant appearance, would affect my ability to be fully present. An important journey was coming up—my Heart of the Andes program in late October. Those 2014 travels involved riding a horse and hiking at elevations up to 16,000 feet on our way to the Q’ero village of Ccochamocco.
Arrival in Ccochamocco in late October 2014.
Photo credit: Sage Garrett.
By that time, I had already attempted to address the issues in ways I thought would work to loosen things up: Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, network chiropractic, regular chiropractic, energy work. All gave temporary relief but not what was needed.
I’ve been a spiritual mentor and practitioner of holistic health for over 20 years. I knew that, more than likely, this physical challenge I was dealing with had a strong, integral mind-body-spirit component.
I remembered back to the mid-90s when a man came to me with severe pain originating in his neck and radiating down one arm. He told me it was so severe he’d gladly cut his arm off to get rid of it. That’s pretty severe. He’d been medically diagnosed with osteoarthritis. The doc told him there was nothing he could do about it.
But I was listening to his language as he spoke about the progression of the pain and asked him: What was going on in your life when you first noticed discomfort? He’d identified a time nine months prior. He thought about it and said with surprise: It was the break-up of my relationship, and I had no control over it! I then guided him through processes to resolve any lingering grief, and then forgiveness. His pain disappeared entirely. It happened in one session.*
During the processes we used, he also realized he’d been conflicted about issues within the old relationship that resolved during our work. I followed him for about a year after that. The only time he’d had any slight recurrence of pain was when he wasn’t being true to himself, which he adjusted. The body has a wonderful way of giving us signals to those things we attempt to push aside or are unaware of in the first place. Hence, we’re supported in our spiritual development this way if we pay attention.
I knew to ask myself these questions and did so. Indeed, I identified an exact point a number of months prior when—out of nowhere—something occurred that went against my values and caused a foundational break for me. Isn’t it interesting how the body can mirror…and what better place to reflect such a thing than the first chakra region, that of foundation?
The truth is: This was an area of my life I’d been uncomfortable with for quite a while. I just didn’t want to look at it. I was forced into it through the circumstances. It had to do with loyalties and impeccability. Qualities I hold highly. But I finally had to answer a question a few folks had directed to me in the last years: Why do you maintain such loyalties when it’s really not beneficial?
I began to do the self-work I knew needed to be done, and over the next couple of months lost the emotional charge to the event that instigated this deep work. In fact, I became grateful for the incident. I experienced relief and so much more alignment. I felt some slight physical discomfort during my Peru program that dissipated entirely over the course of the journey.
But then I returned home.
I address re-entry with the folks on my spiritual travel programs, counseling them how we’ve been in a beautiful, expansive cocoon, an altered state really. It’s necessary to create such a space so that such deep learnings can enter and gain a heart-hold. When we return home though, things at home haven’t changed even though we have. It’s a time of integration and realigning those things hanging out there not fully addressed.
There was that pain again right on cue.
I finally asked my massage therapist, Rhonda Hamilton, if she had any ideas. She’s well plugged into the alternative healing community in our area. She recommended I make an appointment with Ruth Backway, a physical therapist in town who has an excellent reputation. I called for an appointment and was told by the receptionist that she had a long waiting list. But through some miracle, Ruth called me back and got me in within a few days.
I was not in good shape when I showed up at the end of her workday. This woman knows what she’s doing. And my body responded readily as though it had been poised for release. When I left session that day I’d say I was about 80% better. Over the next few weeks I saw her, I vastly improved to the point of complete release.
Release is the operative word and state here. Unbeknownst to me, my entire trunk was twisted to the left. Bizarre. How do such things happen when nothing to cause it occurred? She directed her work on the fascia in that area of my body, the slippery membrane that holds organs and muscles in place. Her approach was painless, a gentle holding until the fascia let go….as though all it wanted was acknowledgement. Isn’t that what we all want?
Ruth had questioned me closely on any accidents I may have had over the years. The only one of any significance I could remember was relatively minor when I was 18. But it was the one I mentioned. In my own practice I always pay attention to what is mentioned, even if it’s not the most obvious. We carry our own wisdom.
Ruth had me recall exactly what happened… and I remembered even the angle of impact…which it turns out was mirrored in my body in the present issue. The question she in turn asked me to consider: Why is this coming up all these years later? We’re talking 40+ years after the fact, especially with such force, when there was no visible injury or emotional trauma at the time. An old pattern stepping forward perhaps?
Why am I telling you all this? Sometimes things hold on…or may have gone underground but affect us in ways we don’t discern…for years. Sometimes there’s a conflict, generating an attempt to go two ways at once. It stops us in our tracks. Sometimes these aspects look for an avenue of recognition, maybe through related issues or correct timing. They become exacerbated.
Any mind-body-spirit residue must be fully identified and released in order to move through the next threshold. When it’s something deep, we can’t address it fully ourselves—even if we have all the tools—and it takes guidance outside ourselves, someone who knows what they’re doing and can see the forest for the trees…and the way out.
With Maya spiritual leaders Don Xun Calixto (l) and Apab’yan Tew (r) in January 2015.
I am so glad I did. The momentum through the threshold is palpable.
*To read an article originally published in Anchor Point Journal on The Effect of NLP on Physical Pain and Trauma relating the case history in this post, go here.