Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2015

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centrate on new perceptions and not be dominated by those that are less pleasurable. Diverting atten- tion away from pain sensations allows people to "rewire" or "reboot" areas of the brain involved in pain perception, he said. "Distraction is a very pow- erful mechanism." Daniel Lyman, a psychotherapist specializing in chronic pain, uses a related cognitive behavioral tech- nique at the Pain Psychology Center in Beverly Hills. Preoccupation with pain exacerbates pain-sensations by creating internal anxiety, he said, causing more in- stances of pain "! are-ups." His practice focuses not only on managing people's pain, but eliminating the symptoms by "rewiring" the pain perception centers of the brain. "" e goal of a lot of our work is growing new neu- ral pathways so that your brain isn't preoccupied with pain, and art is a great way to do that," said Lyman. " is pain technique is e# ective not only for visual arts, but for auditory ones as well. Alison Murphy, 53, an acupuncturist and sound healing facilitator, uses her voice to manage her dis- comfort. Murphy was in a movie theatre two years ago when she took a bite of popcorn and noticed her lips and tongue were numb. In the following weeks she started experiencing migraines and sharp pains throughout her body. She was diagnosed with late-stage neurolog- ical Lyme disease, which, like Lupus, is associated with not only physical chronic pain symp- toms, but also cognitive problems, such as mem- ory loss and fatigue. "When you're very ill, so$ toning and chanting can be soothing, com- forting and releas- ing," said Murphy, 53. "I am releas- ing the frenetic energy, I'm releasing anxiety—I'm releasing pain." Murphy recently started a Lyme support group on Meet-up to build community and share infor- mation about remedial techniques, including this "toning" therapy. "By the third or fourth session people are just singing and opening their voices and letting it out," she said. "It can be so, so beautiful to sit in a group and received other's vibrations and give the healing vibrations." Creative expression is not only a way to be distracted from pain; it's also a tool for taking better control of it. Psychotherapist Ruschelle Khanna, author of 30 Days of Prayer: Healing Autoimmunity for Women, takes advantage of her personal experiences with chronic pain to facilitate a women's therapy group that uses writing as a tool to manage their pain. In March 2014, a$ er her usual CrossFit workout, Khanna felt a strange tightness in her neck. Within two months she was experiencing seizure-like spasms in her back and says she felt as though she were being electrocuted and her head was on % re. Five months later she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Writing allowed Khanna to become more mindful of what was happening in her body and work through her pain, utilizing it as a motivational force, she said. Changes in diet, exercise and medication can only do so much. Ultimately many chronic pain su# erers discover through trial and error that the best way to alleviate their misery is to let it out. For Murphy, her writing is "like art, painting, moving, sing- ing or any other type of creative arts —you're ex- pressing your pain," she said. "" e person who can express their pain is not the person who is re- pressing it." june/july 2015 25

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