Currently viewing the tag: "pain"

Part 1

Cocaine BlissDrug addiction is a form of seeking. The high we get from drugs is the closest thing to the altered states of consciousness that are the hallmark of deeper states of meditation, including samadhi, and thus drug users—most unconsciously—are seeking what we all are: the internal source of bliss. Bliss can only be achieved from within, whether it be inspiration, fulfillment, joy or any other state of being; it is an inside job. Drug addiction, then, is like any other attachment to the external world—it is our seeking fulfillment from things outside of us.

The quest for bliss, or a something other than what we experience in the purely physical world, is a real and ubiquitous drive—a universal human yearning. We bounce from experience to experience, desire to desire, and even relationship to relationship—what the yogis would call gaining knowledge—seeking this bliss. And all these quests for the outer are necessary to lead us to the reality of the inner. Drugs and chemical highs are no exception. In fact, former drug users may even be at an advantage on this quest, as the altered states so familiar to substance abusers most closely approximates the different states the meditator passes through on his or her way to Self-realization.

Learning the Self is the most rewarding experience we can have, as it lasts a lifetime. While every former drug user has learned invaluable lessons about herself, only through conscious awareness and awakening can true Knowledge—and all it affords—be had. In seeking the Self the greatest of all fulfillments is ours—the bliss we are never able to find in outer experiences. By taking on this quest, the former drug user has the greatest probability of remaining clean, because what is a temporary high when compared to bliss?

russell brand meditatingThe quest to “find” the Self can be carried out by a number of paths. One such path is meditation. Meditation, the art of silencing the mind and going within, is a profound practice, one which has a number of short and long term benefits for the former drug user. The benefits range from the physical, like a decreased risk of debilitating cardiac events, to the mental (increased emotional control), to the spiritual, like greater creative inspiration. In the following paragraphs, I will touch upon these benefits of body, mind and spirit to encourage former users to take up the habit of going within. I am certain that when I am finished you will see that the enormous advantages the practice of meditation affords are far greater than any momentary highs we get from drugs.

The Way I Feel

Dopamine system

Click to enlarge

Drugs feel good—we can thank the dopamine system for that. But the physiological sensations resulting from drug actions are temporary and come with the risks of tolerance, withdrawal and potential overdose. Going within, on the other hand, particularly via the path of meditation, provides physiological changes which are longer lasting, and many even permanent. These physical changes can feel good too, but they are subtle and come on gradually, so there is really no high with true meditation.

Meditation has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiac events—like heart attack and stroke—by one half. At risk African American men and women were given either a meditation program, muscle relaxation exercises or conventional health education courses. Those participants who meditated had nearly half the risk of suffering a cardiac event. These findings are particularly valuable for recovering methamphetamine and cocaine users, as stimulants can stress the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels). Further, the practice of pranayama (breath control) works to slow the metabolism, bringing down heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. These physiological changes are imperative for any person who has been artificially speeding up their cardiovascular system with drugs.

Meditation also has been shown to reduce pain, fatigue and depression. Many people who suffer from chronic illness turn to drugs to alleviate pain. A 2010 study showed that an eight-week course of mindfulness training reduced all three symptoms above, and improved health-related quality of life for people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). As any long-term drug user will tell you: part of the package that comes with substance abuse is pain, fatigue and ultimately depression. Here we now have evidence of the power of going within for alleviating these overloading sensations which often plague chronic drug users.

healingFinally meditation may lead to improved healing—something every drug user needs, as repeated use of chemicals can and does lead to breakdown of the body. Both inflammation and immunity are altered by meditation. Inflammatory processes have been observed to diminish, while immune function has been found to increase in regular meditators. As self-healing, self-regulating organisms, we need our innate powers to function unimpeded. While drug use hinders our healing abilities, quieting the mind and going within enhances them instead. Choose meditation and watch your miraculous regenerative powers operate in full force as your body and mind return to their most optimal functioning states.

Here’s an interesting thought: Humans may subconsciously create pain conditions in their bodies to relieve emotional stresses.  Hmmm…what do you think?  Are our physical ailments simply a way for us to deal with mental misperceptions?  Check it out:

Scientist have recently found that people who practice self-mutilation, clinically known as nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), show decreased brain activity in areas responsible for negative emotions (anterior cingulate and the amygdala), while activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—an area responsible for pain integration—increased as a result of pain.

To explain the findings, researchers have toyed with the idea that self-mutilators actually enjoy pain.  Wrong—since people suffering from NSSI primarily engage in self-inflicted pain–usually cutting or burning the skin—during times of increased stress.  Researchers also proposed that perhaps self-mutilators are attempting to punish themselves.  The problem with this reasoning, however, is that, by definition, punishments increase negative emotions and make behaviors less likely to occur in the future.  Not the case with those practicing NSSI.

Enter a few new studies.  One recent study showed that fruitflies will avoid noxious odors associated with a painful shock; however, they will gravitate toward the same noxious odors when the odors are associated with shock removal.  Hmmm again.

In a second study, scientists found that removal of various forms of experimental pain were associated with a reduction in negative emotion in people with no history of NSSI.  What makes these findings especially interesting are that both general negative emotion and pain-induced negative emotion are processed in the same brain areas.  That means that pain relief and emotional relief are essentially the same thing.  Many of us know that pain-numbing drugs like alcohol also temporarily reduce emotional pain (until, of course, they lead to new forms of pain).  But recent research has shown that simple over-the-counter analgesics (pain relievers) also reduce emotional pain.

So scientists believe that self-inflicted pain, at least as it relates to people engaging in NSSI, may serve the function of reducing emotional pain or stress.  I propose that all pain states, thus all illnesses, result from the mind’s attempt to balance emotional events.  I’m not saying that illness is merely due to negative thinking, because I think any exaggerated thought process–whether positive or negative–can lead to disproportionate emotions.  I’m saying any unbalanced emotion can ultimately lead to illness.

I am fascinated by this study as I think it opens doors to the workings of the mind and it’s involvement in physical experience, including health and disease.


Here is an affirmation I have given to a new client who is being treated with chemotherapy for cancer:  The pain IS the healing.

I was thinking very deeply about this client, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma late last year, when I came up with the affirmation.  He is being successfully treated with the chemo, but the it has put him in excruciating pain.  He says it feels as if his bone marrow is boiling.

What we don’t always realize is that life is often painful; but the pain we endure is often our greatest blessing; it’s what usually brings our greatest growth.  That is the gist of this post.  And the gist of the affirmation.

Affirmations are statements that we say over and over to ourselves, to help establish in our minds the truth behind the statement.  What we say to ourselves repeatedly we believe.  What we believe we create.  In other words, we create our reality, whether you want to believe it or not (hidden wisdom, hidden wisdom, reread, ponder).

However, affirmations are powerless if we don’t really believe what we are saying in the first place.  For my client, it is not too hard to get him to believe.  First off, he’s super-sharp: He already sees the blessing in his illness, and he sees how his life (and mind-set) has led to where he is now, for all of which he is grateful.  Second, he’s a fighter; he feels like ess ayech aye tee (i.e. not well), yet he comes for his visits anyway.  He is doing everything he can to get well, including chiropractic, acupuncture, nutritional therapy, and very soon…rehab.  Third, he knows he is getting better; this man knows the principles of the universe, and he gets that he’s getting a second chance; he understands the process.

So “the pain IS the healing” rings true for him.  But I have given him the affirmation to get him through the rough times.  When his bone marrow starts feeling like it’s boiling from the chemo, the affirmation makes it firm in his mind that it is an integral part of the healing process; and he’ll help his body along through his certainty.

And you can use this affirmation too.  Whether you are going through a tough breakup, financial or legal troubles, or any other painful experience, just remember…the pain IS the healing.


Do you wear orthotics? Do you have back pain, hip pain, knee pain; do your feet hurt? Has anybody checked your feet? If you wear orthotics, then you know how much they help your particular condition. But did you know they need to be repaired periodically?

Orthotics are devices inserted into the shoes that support the feet. They are customized to each individual, so they may provide an arch for one whose arches collapse; or they might provide cushion for people that come down hard on their feet. Each foot dysfunction and gait abnormality has its own particular correction in custom-made orthotics.

We take approximately ten million steps a week. By the shear volume of it all, orthotics wearers have to be aware of one thing–orthotics eventually break down. Once the device expires, symptoms slowly return. Hello sciatica–long time no burn. Shin splints–thought you’d never come back. Oh, and low back pain–fuggedaboutit–that’ll come back with a vengeance. Sometimes symptoms return slowly; other times–BAM!–hello again.

The approximate time frame to repair or replace your orthotics is 1-2 years. For runners or heavy tennis players that only have one pair, your looking at closer to a year. But for the average weekend warrior, or for the person with two or more pairs, it’ll be closer to a year and a half, two years. Once you get them repaired, your orthotics will be like brand new.

Just ask my Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood chiropractic client Eddie Pence. He’s been running around in his pair for a couple of years–he’s taken them up Runyon Canyon in Hollywood, trudged them through the Los Angeles flag football gridiron, and slugged mud in them with his dog at the most popular of West Hollywood dog parks. And although the Biomechanical orthotics we fit him for could take a serious licking, Ed knows that to keep them ticking, it’s time for a repair.

If you need orthotics, or you would like to have your low back, hip, groin, knee, calf, shin or foot pain evaluated by a sports chiropractor, and you live in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, or West Hollywood, come see Dr. Nick Campos and get your foot problems squared away.

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