Here is my experience healing from migraine headaches.
It is estimated that 3.2 million people suffer with migraine headaches. In addition to the toll they take on our body, migraine headaches rob sufferers of time at work, school, with family, and in participating in life generally. The cause of migraines is not well understood.
Migraine headaches plagued me frequently for seven years. They arrived from what seemed to be the proverbial thin air, made a dramatic and punishing impression, and disappeared almost as mysteriously.
My doctors and therapists tried everything they knew to help me, from chiropractic spinal adjustments to different medications. In addition to medication and chiropractic methods, I had help from acupuncturists, massage therapist, a Reiki master, the practice of hatha yoga, and meditation. Each of these helped, some quickly, for a while. However, the migraines returned.
I was so traumatized by these headaches, and consequently so fearful, that I made sure that whenever I left the house, I had my medication with me. As soon as one of these episodes appeared, I felt like a bomb had gone off inside my head. I worked with all due haste to take my medication and waited for it to work. I just wanted the pain to go away and I looked for any avenue that helped me get rid of them.
No matter what the doctors and other health care workers did, the migraines continued. They seemed unrelenting. My life seemed unpredictable and I felt like I was at the mercy of these attacks. I became a warrior. I fought and resisted and persevered to find a solution. Sometimes I was utterly exhausted from them. I had difficulty sleeping because I became hypervigilant. I was always either trying to prepare myself for the next headache, or battling the current one I was experiencing.
A migraine hit one day while I was home. I took my medication, but its effectiveness had dissipated and I never got any pain relief. I laid in my bed, curtains drawn. Fortunately, the room was in a quiet part of the house. I lay in as comfortable a position as I could with pillows placed carefully to support my head, neck, and limbs. My head throbbed so that it seemed it might break open.
I laid still, fighting with all my might with the sensations I felt emanating in my head. I had tried to meditate during this time, wanting to distract myself from what I was feeling, but to no avail. The pain persisted. At one point, grace came to my rescue. I heard a voice in my mind say, “Why are you doing the same thing you always do? Clearly, your strategy is not working. Why not try a contrary action?”
I wondered what ‘a contrary action’ would be. I thought for a moment and realized how much I had been battling the headaches. I had gotten into quite a relationship with them. They were my enemy and I treated them as such. I was judging them as something so bad that I could not tolerate their existence.
I realized that I needed to find a more neutral view. I had been fighting the energy that came with these headaches with all my might. Even though it seemed scary and hopeless, I knew it that the contrary action was to surrender to what I was feeling. This realization, that I should stop fighting altogether, was so contrary to what I normally did that it almost seemed a ludicrous choice. In this moment, I felt the gift of desperation. What did I have to lose?
I stopped fighting. I consciously relaxed as much of my body as I could. Instead of trying to get away from the pain, I turned right into it and stared it down, and gently presenced myself to it. I did what I could to make the meaning of what I was feeling be as neutral as possible. The pain was not my adversary, but a companion. I laid quietly experiencing this change in my attitude and perspective. As I watched myself, I felt the pain began to recede. Moments later, it disappeared altogether. I never had another migraine after that.
What powerful lessons were here for me. I later learned that the changes I made in my behavior towards the pain were critical ones to help clear chronic pain.
Here is a review of the steps I took that brought relief and a solution to my migraine headaches:
1) I worked with the health care community to find a holistic solution.
2) I was open and willing to look for a different solution.
3) I listened when grace came in and suggested another way to approach the situation.
4) I removed the judgment I had about the sensations I was feeling as the migraine struck.
5) I stopped fighting with the migraine.
6) I faced the pain instead of trying to avoid, distract, or get rid of it.
7) I became as neutral an actor with the migraine as I could.
8) I consciously relaxed to the best of my ability.
If you are suffering from migraine headaches or another form of chronic pain, I encourage you to try this strategy. See if it makes a positive difference in your experience of pain.
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