The older I get, the more compassion I have for folks living with pain. I am not intending to minimize the experience of those living with severe and chronic pain or pretend I can come close to fully grasping those realities. While I error every day, I try very hard not to get caught in assuming another person’s experience. Yet, my body is shifting with age and with that comes more frequent pain and unfamiliar oddities arising. Not to mention the body transformation during pregnancy and the anticipatory pain related to the birthing process. My pain events got me curious about the causes of pain, what keeps us stuck in pain and what maximizes resilience around the pain experience.
So, I found myself reading yet another book by Dr. Peter Levine (developer of Somatic Experiencing). Freedom from Pain: Discover your body’s power to overcome physical pain is co-authored with Maggie Phillips, PhD. It also comes with a CD which guides you through 15 related practices for pain recovery. What I like most about this book is that it provides succinct information and doesn’t get you stuck in jargons and technicalities. Mostly, it is immensely practical. The book started helping me answer some of my questions about pain, too. (Of course there are more questions than answers much of the time!)
Drs. Levine and Phillips walk you through understanding hurt and suffering, how pain creates a trap that keeps us looping, the shifting of normal or necessary pain into the chronic pain experience, navigating the three stages of recovery, and how medical trauma can be prevented and resolved. You can also find specific recommendations for specific types of chronic pain such as Fibromyalgia and Migraines. If you pick up this read, let me know! I’d love to have conversation and hear about your experience with the practices.
In my practice, I often see clients who are on the journey of healing from stress and trauma. Pain is a common manifestation of the overwhelm our bodies experience and get stuck in from these type of life events. While chronic pain is no doubt complex and has many etiologies, Levine and Phillips articulate the connection of “a crucial missing factor essential to long-term healing: addressing the unresolved emotional trauma held within the body.”
Should you be experiencing ongoing or chronic pain, you may want to consider Somatic Experiencing as a modality to integrate into your care plan (with consultation with your providers). You may also be interested in reading Dr. Phillips Reversing Pain Blog.