Intense Pain Exposed, pt. 2

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

One of the most powerful experience I’ve had as a therapist was written up in a post called Intense Pain Exposed. It’s definitely worth a read or a re-read. In a nutshell, it’s the fascinating and powerful story of a client who bought a gun to kill himself over pain he had carried for over 25 years. He had been molested as a young boy by his beloved grandfather and could no longer take the pain. An inner voice told him to try therapy… one more time. He returned the gun, came to see me, and we had great success as he learned how to go there and feel and release the pain. From my vantage point, it was quite a wild ride. His body was shaking, sweating, and crying, and then it just settled down after a few minutes. Sadness remained. He knew that this was probably not the end of it, but he knew the technique and he knew that I was always there to help. And he knew that a major amount of this pain was no longer in his body.

Due to life circumstances, he was no longer coming in regularly. We’d check in over the phone from time to time, but a decent gap had passed. When I talked to him next, I learned that he had been having major vomiting fits that would land him in the emergency room. This is called Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. I wish he had told me when this first started! That’s fine, though – we can’t question timing. I suspected that the cause was pain that was still there, so we had some more work to do. I had also synchronistically met an emergency room nurse around this time, and our conversation had stumbled upon… cyclic vomiting syndrome and sexual abuse! The things nurses and therapists talk about… She had once worked in a setting in which she wasn’t always in a rush, so she actually talked to many of her patients (sounds like the story of a young Elisabeth Kübler-Ross). Some folks were “frequent flyers” as they call them, so she got to know their stories. She noticed a common thread of sexual abuse among the folks with cyclic vomiting syndrome. This fit my client’s story like a glove…

I told my client this theory over the phone, and we agreed that it was time for another session. When he came in, we went right back into the fire. In the safety of my office and that super comfortable chair, he closed his eyes and he remembered. He went there. And he felt. And he released. His body was rocked every bit as intensely as the first time, if not a bit more. It took slightly longer for his body to calm down this time, but not much longer. It definitely didn’t last even ten minutes. I just kept encouraging him by saying, “Breath and feel. You’re doing great. Just breathe and feel. Let it go. It’s been held in long enough. Let it go. Just breathe.”

After his body had calmed down and the bulk of that pain had been released, our work was done for the day. I really wanted him to lick this and stay out of the hospital, though, so I made sure he would stay in touch and would continue to do this at home as needed or else come see me. I preferred that he come in, by the way, but he didn’t have a car and had difficulty getting to the office. There was nothing I could do about that… Anyway, he stuck to the plan and we were in touch as needed, and I can report that the vomiting seems to be totally gone. No more hospital visits. A good bit of time has passed, too, so things are looking pretty good. But he knows how it works – if there’s more pain there, then we know what to do. It looks like most of it has been released, though.

A quick note about staying out of the hospital, and I’ll try not to be too “ranty”… There are obvious reasons for this, like not getting into massive debt. I’m not a huge fan of our healthcare system, which really isn’t all that great. Just look at the world rankings. And don’t get me started on insurance companies… Here’s another angle, though. When a person goes to the emergency room a bunch and they run a bunch of tests and don’t find anything wrong, that person could end up in the psychiatric unit for an evaluation. If it’s determined that the person has “somatic issues,” which basically means that it’s all in their head, then the next stop might be a psychiatric hospital. I’ve worked in one of these places, so I’ve seen it firsthand. Get ready to be drugged until you’re a zombie, while a treatment team determines what’s wrong with you and how long it will be until you can leave. Yes, the doors are locked. Your life is on hold. And it’s not a pretty place. It’s actually just what some people need, but certainly not this particular client I’m talking about.

I didn’t want this to happen to him, even if there were only a slim chance of it happening. Don’t get me wrong – the people at the emergency room are definitely not looking to do this to everyone who walks in! They’re just doing their job as best they can, as well as according to their training. I know several people who work in the ER, and they’re awesome, special, amazing people. Amazing. It’s happened before, though, so I didn’t want to play games. The problem was simple – he was holding a huge amount of emotion from an awful experience of sexual abuse as a child. And the solution was simple – he had to release this emotion. This solution doesn’t involve a lockdown psych unit or heavy duty meds. It doesn’t involve temporarily postponing his life because the system doesn’t understand. I’m really, really glad that what we’ve done has worked and he can move on. I still check in with him from time to time to make sure he’s cool. And overall he is. He can use a tuneup every now and then, but you know what? So can I! But the bulk of the work related to the sexual abuse from his childhood seems to be done. And for that I am VERY thankful.

The Perfectionist

Posted Posted in My Stories, Personality Patterns

Alright, folks, it’s time to write about another pattern that many humans fall into, The Perfectionist. This one is totally me, by the way, so I speak from experience. I’ve written about the Control Freak before, so please recall that the main point of these patterns is that they are not really you! I know that it seems otherwise for many people, but it really is just a pattern. It’s just that it’s been practiced for so long that it seems totally etched in stone. No pattern is etched in stone, though.

The perfectionist pattern can be particularly crippling because we can get easily stuck. If we think something has to be done perfectly, then we often don’t do anything at all. Why start something that’s not perfect? The truth, though, is that “perfect” as most people think of it doesn’t even exist. It’s just a concept. The only way that perfect exists is if we define it so that everything is perfect, just as it is right now at this very moment. Most people don’t mean anything close to this when they think of “perfect.”

So what should the perfectionist do when s/he is stuck? Start! Just do something. Get moving. See how bad a job you can do. After all, you can make it better later, and perfectionists are good at that. I have to bust myself on this all the time. Challenges for me include all this techno stuff, like figuring out the details of a blog, search engine optimization, Facebook, and other things that I’m not all that interested in. I’m interested in figuring out individual human peace and then helping others to learn it. That’s it! But when you want to earn a living doing that, there are many other aspects. Marketing is one of them – I’m not naturally very good at that, at least not now. So it’s easy for me to be stuck wondering what to do next. When that’s happening, I make myself do at least one thing. Like writing a blog post – that gets things moving. After that, there might be some momentum to do something else.

The perfectionist can show up in the form of being overly critical of self and others, too. This is when we want to take a breath before we speak and choose our words. Do I really want to say that? Should I dial it down a bit at least? What am I really trying to accomplish by saying this? If it’s just the perfectionist rearing its ugly head, then bust it! And laugh, thankful that you’re starting to wake up and challenge these old patterns. They’re just patterns, after all. And that’s good news. And like most of what we talk about here at A Clean Mind, it just takes practice. Just be consistent and persistent, and don’t take it too seriously. And as always, let me know if I can help.

UPDATE: After I posted this, my mom emailed me and said that I definitely came in this way. She said that I was like this literally as a baby still in the crib. My stuffed animals had to be all there and arranged the right way or it was hell to pay. I apologized… She said no worries, because clearly I was too young to have a choice. It was hard-wired. She said it was pretty funny, actually. This is why these patterns aren’t really that personal – we come in with many of them. There’s no choice in that, so it makes no sense to beat yourself up about it. Now, though, it’s up to us to bust ourselves still practicing these patterns and dial it back some. We end up being much more balanced. I work on this to this day. Interesting stuff…

NYC 9/11 Firefighter Gets Fast PTSD Relief

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

I have a client who was a firefighter in New York City for seventeen years, and he was on the job when the World Trade Center towers went down on September 11, 2001. And of course he gave me permission to tell you these details… He has since retired and moved down to the Pensacola area, and he came in to see me for relief from PTSD. He had found himself short-fused, and he didn’t want this to ruin his marriage. Of course I applauded him for taking that first step of coming in. He said he also has constant memories, nightmares, and anxiety, including panic attacks. His flavor of panic attacks last 15-20 minutes and consist of a racing heart and a body that’s shaky and sweaty.

This wasn’t his first time seeking help. He said, “I’ve been to lots of psychiatrists.” I replied, “You have?” And he said, “And they all suck.” After I stopped laughing, I told him I was sorry he hadn’t had the best experiences with them. Then I confirmed what he already knew, which is that the profession of psychiatry in this country (and probably most others, but I’m not sure) has slowly become one of medication management instead of talking to people. It now treats the symptoms (with pills) rather than the cause (with therapy). This is not to offend anyone in that profession at all – it’s just how the majority of it is these days, beginning in medical school. And yes, the huge companies that make the pills have a lot to do with it. Breathe…

Very quickly, this reminds me of another client who recently got on some medications for depression to act as a crutch to get him through some tough times, which is an excellent use for meds. His comment was that when they give the pills to you, they should also give you a plan for how to get off of them when you’re ready. I thought that was an awesome idea. He felt like he was on his own as far as trying to get off of them. Of course any doctor would help if asked about this specifically. He just thought that should be part of the deal up front. What a different philosophy than we have now. And this is definitely not to say that for some people, meds seem to be more of a permanent fix for adjusting their “brain juice,” as a good friend of mine calls it. But for most, meds are much better as a temporary help. Hopefully that wasn’t too much of a rant… Back to the story…

So my client came in for the typical 90 minute first session, in which he was taught about feelings and thoughts. PTSD is a situation in which one or more memories have lots and lots of feeling wrapped around them. I barely remember my lunch yesterday because it had hardly any feeling attached to it. If it had been the best turkey sandwich ever, though, and I was really, really excited about it, then it would stand out more in my mind. The reason is feeling. If I had gotten in a car wreck on the way to lunch, maybe I’d remember it more – again, there’s feeling there. For someone who was at ground zero on 9/11 witnessing horrific things, that’s a memory with tremendous power because of all the feeling associated with it. And you can see what all of that feeling can do if held in and not released – namely, my client’s symptoms mentioned above.

So what do we do with such a client? Have them close their eyes, recall the memory, and just breathe and feel. Let go of whatever comes up and allow it to be felt, but without holding it. He did this beautifully, and honestly he didn’t have the strongest reaction. He said that he felt himself unconsciously holding back, which is totally fine – we go with the flow in this type of work. He said that when he visits Manhattan, though, it all comes back. He particularly remembers the foul smell. What we did in my office was go there mentally, which of course isn’t always as strong. The fancy term for this, by the way, is “in vivo exposure therapy.” Actually returning to the scene of the crime is called plain old “exposure therapy.” Since he has such a strong reaction when visits, what I’m doing is preparing him for his next visit as well as clearing out what we can until then. When he returns next, he’ll go there, sit on the park bench or in his car, and he’ll just allow what comes up to come up – and out! He won’t be analyzing or judging or thinking at all. He’ll just release. When that smell comes up, it won’t even faze him because he’ll know what to do – just allow it to be there, but without holding it. He’ll breathe. And he’ll let go. Now he knows that the smell he smells is normal and not “bad.” HUGE difference.

His next trip to Manhattan will be an excellent opportunity to release what he’s been carrying for all these years. Until then, though, he’s already had some great results. He called me a few days after our first session and said that he was able to sleep eight hours for the first time in years. His nightmares are somewhat better, but he can go back to sleep after he wakes during the night, which he previously hadn’t been able to do. What was I doing on the other end of the line when I heard this? Why, I was high-fiveing the air, of course! There might’ve been some fist pumps, too, like I had just won The Masters. Maybe some bad dance moves, too. I get excited about this type of thing…

He also reports that the panic attacks and anxiety are definitely better. One of the biggest results so far involves major stomach issues that he’s had. It used to be that he’d eat something that didn’t agree with him and then he’d projectile vomit for the next 10-12 hours, with his stomach pain increasing. This would often land him in the hospital, which is a smart move under the circumstances. Since that first session, though, this has pretty much stopped. He’s gotten sick, but only briefly. The 10-12 hour thing seems to be gone, as well as the hospital visits. He’s dramatically reducing his meds, too, which is something he’s been wanting to do. And last but certainly not least, he reports that his wife notices a difference.

I said great job and keep it up! He’s applied what he’s learned form the first day, and he’s gotten measurable results that are no less than major. We’re treating the cause, which is all of the junk that he’s been carrying around since 9/11 (and before since he’s been a firefighter for so long). As that stuff gets released, all of the symptoms should improve in time. And some of them have improved dramatically from day one. This is so cool…

Final note on PTSD treatment… There’s an awesome therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) that’s very effective in treating PTSD. From what I know, the bulk of it involves experiencing the feelings that have been stored since the causative incident, which is what I do. EMDR has more to it, though, like reprogramming the beliefs that were learned. Examples of such beliefs might be that the world is not safe or that a person is not worthy of good things, etc. EMDR is also very structured and specific, which is helpful to both the therapist and the client. I have not been trained in EMDR, but I will be at some point. It’s pretty expensive, which is one of the critiques of it, but I hear that it’s totally worth it. So I’m saving up, and I can’t wait. It really is optional to hold all of that stuff in, and I want to help as many such people as I can. Until then, though, I’ll continue to do my thing, which is still getting results en lieu of the EMDR training. Instant success like what this firefighter has experienced tells me that it’s working some, and for that I am thankful.

Client Has Lucid Dream!

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories, Cool Supernatural/Paranormal Stuff

A client of mine has a very active dream life. Just for the record, I generally do not. I mention that in case anybody reading this wishes theirs were more active. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t worry about it too much…

So my client emailed me recently telling me about what I assume was her first “lucid dream.” For those who don’t know, a lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer becomes aware that they’re dreaming – while still dreaming! So you’re asleep having a dream and then you sort of “wake up” in the dream and are totally conscious of what’s going on. But your physical body is still sound asleep. Pretty wild…

My client was dreaming that she was at somebody’s wedding, and one of the guests was her youngest sister who had died several years ago. This is what tipped her off that it was a dream – she actually had the thought, “Wait – you’ve died, so this must be a dream!” When she woke up, she had a lovely feeling and really enjoyed the experience.

My reply was that this was a very cool experience, indeed, but to not make too much out of it. As I’ve said before, I believe 100% that we are not a physical body, but rather a spiritual being. I know that sounds vague, but we are using words, after all, which have some vagueness built-in… So if we are spirit (and remember this is a logical math major talking), then this lucid dreaming experience can’t be too surprising. After all, premonition dreams happen! My mom even had one that I only learned about after I had written about one that a friend had had. It’s just that not too many people have these experiences overall, which makes them more interesting. I told my client that there’s lots of material out there on the subject, so study it or practice if you want. And of course act on any messages or guidance of you feel compelled to do so. Just make sure to keep a relaxed attitude overall. Many people have these types of experiences and end up thinking they’re extra special or better because of them. That ain’t true…

I first heard of lucid dreaming years ago from a college roommate. He got way into something called Tibetan Dream Yoga a few years after we had graduated. He studied it and practiced some exercises he had learned, and it worked – he had some lucid dreams. The Tibetan Dream Yoga folks, who believe in reincarnation, believe that if you get really good at this then you can train yourself to be lucid at the moment of death and choose not to reincarnate again. I do not believe this myself, but I won’t go into detail about that here. Either way, I think it’s a super cool subject and I generally love anything that expands our minds and our beliefs about what’s possible.

A lucid dream is exactly the type of “freaky experience” that people have but don’t talk about much due to the stigma in our society. It’s wild what you might find when you start asking around. This is especially true in the age of the internet. But when you meet these people and know them personally, knowing they’re not freaks but rather normal, honest people, it takes it to another level. So I’m very happy to share these type of experiences here, and I’ll continue to do so as they come in. Happy dreaming, and feel free to share your experiences with me!

Clients Can Read!

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

Several months ago, a client came in and said she could focus enough to actually read for the first time in years. Then more recently, another client said the exact same thing. These are both very intelligent people who absolutely know how to read, learning when they were young just like the other kids at their respective schools. So why couldn’t they read now? Because there was just too much noise in their heads to stay focused! I’ve tried to read before when my mind was going crazy, and I’d “read” a couple of paragraphs or even a page or two and then realize that I hadn’t absorbed a single word. So I understand what they were talking about.

So what had changed? They learned how to ditch the noise! And how did they do this? Two things. And they have to do with… drumroll… thoughts and feelings! I know – surprise, surprise. The feelings part, of course, refers to releasing, letting go, The Sedona Method – whatever you want to call it. And the thinking part refers to letting go of the voice in the head in favor of either real thinking or no thinking at all. That loud inner critic has to go, though, if you want real peace. And all you have to do is let go of it each time you notice it. No fighting or resistance is needed. Over time, the volume will be turned down. It will still talk to itself, but it will have a fraction of the power that it once had.

I’ve said before that the reason I’m doing what I’m doing is that peace can be learned – you don’t have to be born with a resting pulse in the 50’s. And these people have learned a lot. I call experiences like these “measuring sticks.” They couldn’t read and now they can, all as a direct result of learning and applying some simple principles. This is a very concrete experience that says they’re doing something right, so keep doing it.

One of them has had another measuring stick, and I swear the term “stick” is not being used intentionally, but it involves getting an erection. I promise this won’t be graphic… Basically, he’s had to take Cialis for a couple/few years now. He’s not some old man with a natural decline in sex drive, either. At some point he just became wound too tightly in this area of his life. And the voice in the head loves to yell about this type of malfunction, so there was way too much noise in his head. Then he came in to see me and get to work. After a few sessions, he noticed that he didn’t need Cialis for the first time in years. He attributed this change directly to The Sedona Method and the rest of the work that we’ve done, which is exactly what I write about here at A Clean Mind. No secrets. Needless to say, I was very happy to hear this. Who knows if he’ll need pills or not in the future, but he knows that something is working. And regardless of whether or not he’s “cured” or if he’ll still have issues, he’s released on that, too! Release on everything – life is so much smoother that way. And all it takes is practice.

Well, that’s the tale for today, beloved readers. I just love hearing stories like this, because it confirms even more that this stuff really does work. It’s a way of living that’s totally different than what the majority of the world practices, and the world’s a total mess. So don’t live that way! How much of a stress ball do we really need to be?? So happy releasing, gently let go of that voice in the head when you notice it, and let me know of any success stories, as well as any challenges. This is a skill that is learned, practiced, and developed. And when you get noticeable results, it gives you more and more confidence. I’m here to help if I can. Peace!

Client Teaches Fiancé To Release!

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

I got the most awesome voicemail from a client recently. He told me how his fiancé was stressed out and upset, and he taught her how to release those feelings. It ended with her going from tears to having a huge smile on her face in no time flat. Bravo! The coolest thing is that my client had read not even one hundred pages of The Sedona Method. I’ve written before about The Sedona Method and have mentioned it quite a bit in general here at A Clean Mind, whenever I talk about letting go or releasing. It’s just so useful and practical; essential material for a human to know, really. And the method is laid out in the first 50 pages. So he had read enough to do it. And of course he had learned how to do in his first session with me just like all of my clients. The book goes way deeper than I ever could, though. Suffice it to say that I was quite psyched to hear his voicemail. Here’s what happened…

They were expecting out of town friends, so they were cleaning up their house and getting it ready. Maybe time was tight or something, but they were a bit stressed out as they were doing this. Here at A Clean Mind we know very well that “stressed out” means ripe conditions for arguing, and lo and behold, what happened? They got into an argument. My client described it as one of their many “stupid, meaningless arguments” that aren’t about anything important at all. This is so classic, by the way, and it drives me crazy. A big part of my work is about eliminating petty, useless arguments. It’s so optional when you’ve had enough and are ready to learn about it and do something about it. Hmm, that wasn’t as bad a rant as I thought it was going to be! Back to the story…

So they were in this meaningless fight. Afterwards, he was aware that he was holding his anger and not letting it go. He had been reading and practicing, though, so he was up for the task. He was eventually able to let it go, and he felt much better. She was still holding it, though, and she started to cry. After some amount of crying, he was impelled to see if she could release it. He first asked her if she could just welcome and accept what she was feeling in that moment. She said she could. He then went through the basic releasing questions. He asked her if she could let it go, as in is it possible? She said yes. He asked her if she would let it go. That’s the invitation. She said yes. He said, “How about now?” She said yes and opened her eyes with a huge smile. Yes! She not only learned the nature of feelings that day, but she experienced it. And experience is what we’re after.

Needless to say, he was pretty pumped up about this. That’s when he called me and left that voicemail that in turn made me pretty pumped up. I love my job! It’s all about teaching and thus empowering people to learn how to live at peace. Yes, it’s a learnable thing. It’s nice if you’re born that way, but most of us simply aren’t. Becoming totally at peace generally doesn’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t take long to get validation that this stuff works… if you’re ready. And if you’ve read much of the material here at A Clean Mind or other similar material, then question answered – you’re totally ready! To my client, I say great job and keep it up. To his fiancé, whom I’ve only met once, I say keep it up – what a great thing to learn about. Do you realize how much smoother your life will be if you keep learning and practicing?? And to you who are reading this, I say good luck, kick ass, and let me know if I can help. I know that many of you are well on your way already, and I applaud your efforts. On behalf of all humans, we thank you! It makes the whole world a better place.