Being with physical pain

Being with physical pain 

Types of pain

There are four primary types of pain each having their own flavor of expression. Physical pain is the most obvious being that of the production of unpleasant sensations in the the body.  It often deeply activates our survival mechanisms and more primitive, reactive brain structures.  Emotional pain is experienced when our feelings get hurt or we feel unloved or unloveable.  This is less connected with our immediate survival and more with our sense of a personal self and inherent worthiness.  Mental pain is the experience we have when we’re trying to force or insist that life to be a particular way,  when we argue with what is and can’t see outside of a limited perspective.  This is often connected with who we are in the world, what we want to accomplish and how we are perceived by others.  Lastly spiritual pain is that which we feel when we tap into the collective at large and feel the suffering of a group or community.  Spiritual pain is the least personal of all the experiences of pain, but it tends to invoke a high desire towards service towards others when felt.

Though none of the pains that we experience are necessarily easy to be with I find that physical pain can sometimes be the most challenging for us. Our relationship with physical pain is such that we feel the threat to our survival through its expression.  Most of us have subtle, or not so subtle, beliefs in place that to allow ourselves to feel physical pain may ensue our demise. Even if our higher brain centers know this is not necessarily the case, the lower primitive survival structures take precedence and rule our reactions.  

Due to the perceived threat to our survival that physical pain activates inside of our psyche we have a higher tendency to protect or guard ourselves from this type of pain.  This creates a hyper-vigilance which activates our sympathetic (fight/flight) nervous system, creates massive amounts of tension and hijacks our awareness.  In this state of being our capacity to recognize that we are not the pain and that the pain does not control us is quite limited.  We feel consumed by it and have lost awareness of anything else.   

Mastering the primitive nervous system

Coming back into connection with yourself

separated by wallUltimately we must become the master of this primitive survival response of our nervous system so that we can learn to be present with physical pain rather than consumed by it.  When we guard against physical pain we wall off our awareness from  that particular location within our body.  Walling off awareness creates a sense of disconnection from that expression.  When we perceive disconnection we feel powerless because the expression is something other than us. When something seems other than us the mind perceives it to be an external problem and often goes into trying to figure out the solution to that problem. This is a rabbit hole without resolve. You will constantly be looking for and trying the next best magical cure.  

When instead you begin to create a connection with this aspect of your self that’s expressing as a painful sensation you begin to realize your power again.  You realize that you can be with this expression too. That you can even move into and towards it rather than away from it.  That you don’t have to protect yourself from it, but rather that you can experience it. 

It is through this and through realizing your power and thus your capacity to work with these sensations that you can come back into oneness with yourself and with that which was previously perceived to be other than you.  This is how all healing happens in every category of pain.  In this way you begin to master those primitive survival responses of your nervous system.  Rather than letting them run the show of your life you develop greater awareness of your self beyond them and with that new options for how you can engage with these painful sensations begins to open up.  With that you stop seeing pain as the enemy that’s overtaking you and you discover how you can work with whatever sensation arises.  In this working together communication happens.  Vital communication.  Communication that is required for all systems to function and work coherently towards a common vision, in this case a physical vehicle that moves with ease.  

All healing happens through connection and coming back into oneness with yourself.  When we forget our wholeness we appear to ourselves to be broken. From the perception of brokenness no healing arises, only further brokenness.  To join with what’s present (even physical pain), rather wall yourself off from it, creates balance, harmony and an optimal environment for you to thrive within. 

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado

How can such a light touch type of chiropractic (i.e. Network Spinal Analysis) help me?


I hear this question frequently, “How can such a light touch do anything?”  Typically after people receive one or two sessions they begin to experience just exactly how profound light touch Chiropractic is, but today I am going to demystify it for those who have never experienced it before.

Network Spinal Analysis works at the level of the spinal cord and effects nervous system function and communication.  Through thorough analysis of the body’s spinal-neural integrity systems from a skilled practitioner, the precise location is identified where the body says “yes, this is the spot to place a precise, gentle touch in order to make the most effective global response throughout my entire body.”

Now that may seem impossible to some but our body’s nervous system is actually wired for this degree of subtlety and communication.  Think of a time when someone gently kissed your neck at just the right time and place and how that gentleness created a response throughout your entire body.  At a neurobiological level that feeling creates a cascade of feel good neurochemicals (how your nervous system communicates) which promote health, enhance your body’s innate immune system, and produce feelings of overall well-being.  This is one of the ways that a light touch can create a global healing response throughout your entire body.

“In a system of considerable complexity (such as the human body and nervous system), there is a precise point where even a small amount of energy applied (light touch) brings about a major change.” ~Dr. David R. Hawkins

These gentle touches also cue your brain (particularly the frontal part of your brain) to pay greater attention to your body.  This is how healing becomes an inside out approach.  What I mean by that is that parts of your brain begin to “wake up” and create connections to parts of your body.  Sometimes these are parts of your body that hold tension or have pain, other times these are parts of your body that feel peaceful or experience bliss.  Often times when something hurts (or yes also when it feels too good) we tend to try and protect, guard or avoid feeling it in order to decrease what we believe will feel like greater pain (or joy).  What this effectively does is decrease the communication between that part of your body and your brain and you actually lose some of your internal resources for being able to heal and connect to that part of you.

For sustainable healing to occur you must be the one making the changes and connections from the inside.  Nothing done outside of you, to you, will create a lasting change.  Network Spinal Analysis in conjunction with Somato-Respiratory Integration helps you become more aware of you so you can make the necessary shifts from the inside.  Benefits of this type of care are:

    1. You become more aware of your body by enhancing neural communication to parts of your body on the inside
    2. Creates ease in your nervous system so that you can heal and grow instead of being in survival mode in your body’s communication system
    3. Develop new neural pathways and strategies to help you become more adaptable to life stressors and this creates greater health and well-being
    4. Feel more empowered in your ability to navigate whatever comes to you in life (including physical dysfunction, pain, disease or other everyday life events)
    5. Expand into versions of yourself that are more healed, whole and experience more joy and fullness of life expression

Sound good to you?!  Let’s get started!  I can’t wait to help facilitate you connecting to more of you and your self-healing and self-regulating abilities so that you feel more empowered in your health and your life!

Dr.  Amanda Hessel, DC, MS, L.Ac

Symptoms: Your Body’s Reorganizational Wisdom

What if your back pain wasn’t just this annoying symptom that you wanted to get rid of? What if it held inside of it the wisdom you needed to become the next better version of you? What if your low energy, mood swings, irritability, headaches, allergies, etc. are telling you that something needs to change in your life? Would you want to learn how to listen to your body’s reorganizational wisdom and make that change or would you choose to ignore it, get rid of it and stay the same?

Unfortunately all too frequently we choose the later. Something goes “wrong” in the way our body is expressing and our first instinct is to get rid of the “problem.” There is an underlying disconnect in our culture between our body and our life. We believe that if our body is expressing itself in unhealthy ways that it is our body’s fault and we go to address the physical structure to correct the dysfunction.

What symptom and disease expression really is, is the body’s attempt to reorganize itself. It means that way your life and body has been functioning no longer works. You need an upgrade so you are destabilizing. Think about when you get a new computer and how fast and well it works. Overtime, if you didn’t upgrade your software programs then your computer would slow down and malfunction. It needs an upgrade. Your body works in a similar fashion. If you don’t upgrade your system then your system slows down and malfunctions. We label this disease.

Destabilization is necessary in order to allow something new to replace it. Back to the computer example above. Let’s say you have an old computer from 1992 and it still works. It never broke down per say, it still turns on and off, you connect via dial-up and it’s slow but you don’t really notice.   It sits on your desk because it is too large and heavy to move. You cannot communicate with any of your friends on chatting systems or send word documents out because your software is incompatible with the newer versions that everyone else has. With all of that said you don’t really notice because it is the same computer that you have been using for 20 years and it still works. If it did breakdown (destabilize) or it quit turning on then you might notice and you would be faced with the decision to upgrade to a newer, more advanced model or to try to fix up the older model. You might try to fix it up once or twice, but it keeps having new problems and eventually you need to upgrade.

Your can think of the body the same way. You can fix it up a few times, meaning take a pain medication to numb the pain or have a surgery to fix the problem, but if you don’t upgrade you then that same energy and out of date software that created the dysfunction in the first place will create new dysfunction and there is a downward spiral to disease and illness.

There is great reorganizational wisdom in how our body expresses symptoms. Symptoms are our body’s little messengers and when we utilize them instead of get rid of them they can be incredible sources of fuel for creating change and sharing our gifts and selves with the world in ways that are important to us. It is simply a matter of how long we wait to make the change that our body is telling us that we need to make. We don’t always know “what to do” or “how to change” or “what is required of us.” Sometimes we are simply too overloaded by life stressors that we can’t pay attention even if we wanted too. Most people haven’t developed the skill set to learn to listen to our body and make the connections between our body and life.

We must start the process exactly where we are, which isn’t necessarily always where we want to be. It is in being with “I have ‘xyz’ and I don’t like it, want it or don’t know what to do about it.” This begins the exploration and the process of reclaiming and reorganizing your body, life and health.

Amanda Hessel, D.C., M.S., L.Ac