Local classes teach how to heal what ails you

Feb 04, 2014

Chronic pain has become an epidemic in this country. According to the National Institutes of Health, pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.

And yet, pain is among the most difficult health issues to treat successfully. The vast majority of chronic pain sufferers can recite a long list of treatments – both conventional and alternative – they have tried without relief.

In addition, pain that begins in one area of the body often seems to migrate to somewhere else. This is especially baffling to doctors who, despite their best intentions, are often unable to find the true source of the discomfort.

If they can’t find the cause, they may tell you it’s all in your head. And maybe they’re right! The old song says that “the heel bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s connected to the shin bone” and so on. What if the bones (and muscles and organs) are connected to the thoughts and feelings, too?

Over the past 40 years, a handful of doctors who work on different areas of the body in different parts of the world have come to the same conclusion: our emotions have a much greater impact on our health than most of us realize. Thus, if you heal the mind, you can heal the body.

Dr. John E. Sarno, Professor Emeritus of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Rusk Institute of the New York University School of Medicine, was one such trailblazer.

He began to realize that many of the patients he treated for back pain did not get well or did not remain well. Wondering why, he started asking them not just about their pain, but about their lives.

He began to realize that those who were not helped by conventional treatments carried emotional pain, too. He developed a program to help them discover and address their emotional issues, and 90 percent of the time their physical pain waned or even disappeared.

For the past two years, Edmonds Vitamins and Herbs in downtown Edmonds has been sponsoring classes and workshops that teach the expressive writing techniques that Sarno and others have found can resolve the negative thoughts and emotions that impact physical and psychological health.

Shop owner Justin Reeder has found great relief using these techniques.

“It used to be that my neck and shoulders were tense and painful most of the time,” she said. “When I was under stress, it was worse.

“Ted [Neff, who teaches the classes] was in my store on a day that was particularly rough for me. My emotions – and my neck – were really a mess.

“He gave me a pad and pen and set me down in a quiet spot with a 15-minute timer,” Reeder explained. “I just wrote about what I was feeling without stopping.

“At the end of the time, I’d resolved my emotional issue and realized my neck was nearly pain-free and moving with ease. I was very impressed.”

Pain isn’t the only thing people are shedding as they address their emotional issues. Some are even losing weight without changing their diet or exercise routines.

“I knew something was missing in my health routine,” said Francine (Frannie) Cohen of Edmonds. “My hips and lower back ached; old issues surfaced, creating grief, guilt, and anger; and I was 20 pounds overweight.

“I have since lost 15 pounds, my general health feels better, and my aches and pains have lessened.

“The weight came off effortlessly, my clothes fit very comfortably, and my attitude is much happier.”

Still others have used this healing process to improve other areas of their lives. Neff recently received the following email from a class participant:

“I just wanted you to know that I had a second interview for my job on Friday and was offered the job! Full-time with benefits and the perfect job for me.

“Thanks for your advice. I truly feel that the writing was key, and I am continuing to write. Clears all those cobwebs.

“Thought you could add me to your success stories. After over 50 resumes and offers of part-time work, finally landed THE ONE!”

Attendees of these local workshops have taken charge of their health and of their lives, experiencing relief from digestive problems, joint pain and other common ailments.

Cohen enjoys the opportunity to direct her own healing. “I love being able to tell that hurt and pain to stop,” she exclaimed. “I feel so much more in control of my body and life.”

What would Reeder say to someone considering this class?

“I think it’s a great investment, especially for folks who’ve had long-standing issues, whether physical or emotional.”

Cohen agrees.

“What are you waiting for?” she asks. “Great health is a gift to ourselves. Living in pain is just that. Be your own hero and take this class.”

The techniques used in these classes are not a substitute for medical or mental health care. Most attendees have already tried many ways to get better and some are still using those modalities. They simply continue their medical care and add the writing exercises to their protocol.

For more information on upcoming classes and workshops, call 425-247-8686 or email selfdirectedhealing@gmail.com.

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