I’m Rodger Douglas and I treat fibromyalgia with homeopathy. I use a body mind approach that revolves around simple and healthy living.
The central idea running through everything I do is connected to mindfulness: mindful eating, mindful exercise, mindful living, and even mindful homeopathy. Actually, I don't like the word 'mindfulness' very much because it implies something rigorous, spiritual, or even Eastern. And that's not at all what treating fibromyalgia is about. Treatment should be simple and joyful. There are two words that I feel capture the spirit of my approach: 'perception' and 'reflection.' Perception is using your senses to observe what's happening around you. Reflection on the other hand means looking inward. It means thinking deeply about the past and seeing the bigger picture.
Most people with fibromyalgia feel depressed or anxious to some degree. Our natural tendency tendency in this state is to try to get rid of our feelings by reasoning them away. We think up one up solution after another, and before long we start to believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with us for not being able to find our way out of our despondency. There is an answer and that is shifting from Thinking Mode into Being Mode. Being mode is a state of nonjudgmental, calm awareness. It’s about being in the present.
This simple mindfulness exercise requires you to focus on the present moment using all your senses, thus shifting your mind away from overthinking and into the present moment. I suggest doing this exercise before meals. It only takes 2 or 3 minutes. Sit comfortably in a chair. Hold an item of food in your hand. Most people use a raisin but anything works.
Really concentrate. Let your eyes roam over the food and pick out all the details: the colour, areas of light and shade, any ridges or shine.
Feel its smallness in your palm. Explore the raisin’s texture with your fingers. Is the skin waxy? Are there any edges? It is soft or hard?
Bring it close to your nose and concentrate on any scents you can detect. Does it smell sweet or perhaps earthy? Has this triggered your taste buds?
Place it in your mouth. Don’t chew yet; just spend some time concentrating on how it feels on your tongue. Notice its texture. Take a bite without swallowing it yet. Fix your mind on the sensations just released into your mouth. How does it taste?
Listen to the sounds you make as you chew it and swallow.
The Mindful Seeing Exercise is the second exercise of the series. Try to do it a least once today for 15 minutes or more. If you can’t find a window you can do it anywhere you think is suitable. Enjoy.
Find a window where there are sights to be seen and gaze out.
Try to see the world outside the window from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with these sights. Don’t label what you see; instead of thinking ‘bird’ or ‘tree’ try to notice the colors, patterns, shapes, textures and movement.
Be observant, but not critical. Be aware, but not fixated.
If you become distracted, gently pull your mind away from those thoughts and refocus on your gaze.
Write down your observations.
The first two mindfulness exercises were simple and basic. The Body Scan Meditation is a step up and requires a little bit more focus and concentration.
Paying attention to your body balances the tendency to live in your head. The body senses rather than thinks, so, by allowing body sensations to be felt, you tune into a mode of perceiving that’s more centered, grounded and directly in touch with the world around you.
Find a quite place where you won’t be disturbed. You can do the exercise inside or outside.
Lie down on your back, sit in a comfortable chair or chose any position you feel relaxed in.
Systematically sweep through your body with your mind, bringing attention to all its parts. Start from the toes of the left foot and then move through the foot and up the left leg, on the surface and deep. Then do the right leg. From there move into the pelvic region, the abdominal region, the upper torso all the way up to the collarbones and shoulders. From the shoulders move to the arms, starting from the tips of the fingers and moving up the arms. Then scan the neck, face and head.
When you scan your body you may encounter unpleasant sensations such as pain or discomfort. At first you might try to avoid, think about, or battle these sensations, but this won’t make them go away – pain does not listen to reason. Rather than struggling with your discomfort gently lean into it, pay attention to it, and notice it. This might seem counter-intuitive but by becoming aware of your discomfort you reduces the power it has over you.
Sit Spotting and meditation are similar in that they both involve sitting still and concentrating. With meditation your focus is turned inward while with sit spotting it is turned outward towards the world. Like meditation, sit spotting is not something that produces immediate benefits, but with regular practice can bring positive changes to your life.
Select a place outdoors that is near your home, such as your backyard or a neighborhood park. Find a comfortable spot and visit it daily or at least a few times a week. Visit your spot in every season and at different times of the day and night to see how it changes. Sit there for 5 to 20 minutes and observe your surroundings with all of your senses.
SEE: Let your eyes slowly roam over the view picking out colors, areas of light and shade, the movement of leaves, grass and insects, and any other details.
Listen for birds and animals, the wind and background noises.
Smell the fresh rain or snow.
Touch the rocks and moss.
If you want, record your observations with notes and pictures in a journal. Eventually, you will know this little corner of the universe better than anyone else.
You could take a compass with you and record the cardinal directions. Draw a compass rose in the sand
Journaling can have have an enormously beneficial effect on fibromyalgia. Simply writing your thoughts down in a diary will do nothing for you though. There is however, a specific way of journaling that has been proven to work.
In the early 1970s Dr. John Sarno worked at NYU Medical Center where he specialized in treating chronic pain. He noticed that many of his patients were not improving, and began to doubt the effectiveness of conventional treatments for these conditions.
He decided to look deeper and found three things: (1) Most of his patients were hardworking, conscientious, and perfectionist: traits associated with suppressed anger.
(2) Many of his patients had a history of stress related illnesses such as migraine or hernia.
(3) There was not always a physical explanation for the pain, such as a torn ligament or ruptured disk.
Building off of this information he realized that it was actually the subconscious mind that was causing the physical symptoms: Throughout our lives we encounter unpleasant situations that make us angry, but instead of facing these situations and releasing the anger some of us bottle it up. This anger then builds and builds and over time turns into suppressed rage. To distract ourselves from this rage hidden within we may become hardworking, conscientious, and perfectionist.
When this rage reaches a critical level it threatens to become conscious, so the brain creates a hernia, back pain, or some other symptom as a distraction to prevent a violent emotional explosion.
Dr. Sarno found that all his patients had to do to stop their symptoms was to become aware of their origin. Once the hidden emotions become conscious the brain has no need to distract with pain or other symptoms.
Dr. Sarno suggests setting aside 15 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening to journal about the possible causes of your depression or anxiety. Sit down and think about these feelings deeply to bring them from the unconscious into the conscious. When your thoughts reach the subconscious the brain will stop its protective mechanisms. There are a number of possible sources of these feelings:
Past Experiences: In your notebook make a list of all the experiences that happened in your past that made you feel angry, hurt, humiliated, anxious or depressed. This may include such things as being bullied, rejected, insulted, or feeling unloved.
Current Pressures: List anything that causes pressure: your job, your studies, your social life, your partner, your parents, your children, your health, or any other major problems in your life.
Personality traits: Add the personality traits you may have that could contribute to your emotional pain: you expect too much of yourself, you drive yourself to be perfect, you have a strong need to please people, you want people to like you, you fall in love too easily, etc.
Once you have completed your list write an essay about each one. You can do this over several days or even months if you need to. It is vital that the information reaches the subconscious so here are some tips on how to get there:
Tip One. Vivid: Try to picture each experience as clearly and vividly as you can and write about it as if it’s happening now. The longer and more descriptive your essays the more likely they will penetrate the subconscious mind.
Tip Two. Free Flowing: A pen or pencil may be better for you than typing because they allow you to express yourself better, and you can easily doodle and draw pictures. There is no need to write neatly or even legibly. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. If you make a mistake don’t go to the trouble of erasing it, just cross it out and continue..
Tip Three. Language: Write from your heart and not your head. The head is like a professor giving a lecture, using formal language and proper grammar, he takes a detached and impartial approach as he speaks of past and future events. The heart on the other hand, uses casual expressions and is anchored in the present.
I strongly suggest reading one of Dr. Sarno’s four incredible books: Healing Back Pain, Mind Over Back Pain, The Mindbody Prescription, and The Divided Mind.