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  • Writer's pictureSusan Winograd PT

Chronic Pain: My Healing Journey

Elliot is one of my clients ( I am now blessed to call him a friend as well).

I asked him to write this guest blog and share his story because he is the quintessential example a true healing journey. Elliot went from competitive athlete with chronic pain, multiple injuries and the mindset that usually goes along with that to practicing yoga, chi-gong, meditation, becoming a true healer of himself, now helping others in their healing journey and becoming virtually pain free.

I always tell my clients that your brain believes the story you tell it.....Elliots story was one of healing and self growth.

I can truly say that I have never met someone so in tune with the subtle messages of their body. During meditations Elliot can channel his energy to injuries, this serves as both a guide to restricted and unbalanced areas and to help him release trauma from his tissues.

We have an incredibly strong therapeutic alliance, he trusts me to listen to his body both physically and energetically and use that to guide during our sessions. He knows that ultimately he has to the hard work of healing his own body and has been committed to that. As a clinician,I have learned so much from Elliot, he is a true healer!

Thank you for sharing your story my friend.

Chronic Pain: My Healing Journey

Written By: Elliot Merles

Chronic pain. What is it? How does it arise? Can it ever be resolved?

Can it be used in a positive way, maybe even to achieve self-mastery.

I don't have definitive answers to these questions and have not yet achieved self mastery.

However, I have lived through chronic pain for the greater portion of my life. I am still grasping to understand it. For me chronic pain is not constant but persistent, not life threatening, yet life de­­bilitating, unpredictable in one sense but very predictable in another.

My early diagnosis seemed obvious….. I played sports and got injured.

This led me to believe my chronic pain came from sports injuries. This is only a partial truth. At a very young age, I started moving quickly and loved all things motion performance related. Running, jumping, sliding, blocking and tackling were all part of my childhood. I started breaking bones and getting injured early in life and unwittingly fell into a cycle of injury, pain, recovery and then right back on the field to play again.

I began to develop a mental/emotion pattern that aligned with my physical condition. I was very fortunate that my body would always heal and I did begin to develop a sense of understanding about my own body mechanics.

Unfortunately, I took the amazing healing power of the body for granted and was always in a rush to "get back out there". I now understand feeling 100% in the sense that your body has recovered enough to play at the top of your game is not really healing.

There are scars, and not all are visible. The yogis refer to the ones we can't see as samscaras. The after effects left in the body when traumatized by injury or other dis-ease.

When team sports ended, I switched to tennis and played high level tournaments and found a whole new type of injury, mostly tendon overuse and joint related.

For me the pain lodged in my hips and low back. Once again, I adapted well to my ailments. I'm not sure if it was a strong will, or my "get back out there" mental programming but I found what worked for me. Mostly ice, heat, stretching and massage. I was disciplined enough to stick to my regimen and this was both good and bad.

The personality I showed the world was always pretty calm, even laid back. However, Inside I was always on "high." The way I calmed myself was through sport. Most would say this is a good way to exorcise inner restlessness. I would agree to a point. I loved the feeling of competition, exhausting myself like a gladiator. It really is a great feeling.

However, the sensual pleasure I received from it became a hindrance, even an obsession and that's what it was for me. You could say I was addicted to the buzz (serotonin) I received from my games.

I always viewed injuries as bad luck but I now realize it was my body actually talking to me, telling me, slow down. "Listen to your body, listen to your body". This was suggested to me many times but I really didn't know how to do this. At age 37, I stopped playing tennis. My path was changing but I was still lacking in self awareness.

At that time, I was one of the healthiest looking, unhealthy people you'd ever seen.

The body finds a comfort zone in its healing, and over time can cause misalignments and imbalances. This is what was going on in me. Also, at the onset of my tennis injuries, in my early twenties, I was prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs. I used them consistently over a six-month period which caused damage to my immune system.

The pains of the body should not be covered up with the camouflage of medications. These pains are the road map to understanding how to fix the problem. We are given clues in the form of symptoms and feelings.

It takes deep introspection to know what is needed to heal and nourish the body. Therefore, it is important to become aware of your own role in creating wellness.

Likewise, if one chooses not to use the map, it is very easy to take a wrong turn and get lost for awhile on the road of searching for an external agent to heal you.

I did this with the medications and a search for someone to fix me.

This is not to say that Doctors and Physical Therapists don't play an important role. They do.

They are sent to us as knowledgeable guides to help our recovery, however, it is ultimately how we process their advice and therapies that heals.

If we are fortunate enough to cross paths with a "healer" who is adept, the patient and healer become co-creators in the manifestation of health. The healer no matter how gifted is only as good as the willing patient.

I began mediating at age 43 and experienced the benefit of stillness and breath for the first time in my life.

I began to explore my inner world and slowly uncovered many years of negative thinking, that was driving me into bad decisions. My highly competitive mindset, untended, was pretty toxic.

My decisions were not only causing physical problems but limited my emotional/spiritual development.

Consistent examination of the internal world will ultimately reveal the invisible framework for our external being.

There are 3 different versions of Ourselves:

- How we are perceived by the world around us

- How we perceive ourselves

- Our true self

These three selves are always intertwined. The first two are much easier to figure out than the third. They are visible in our actions, deeds and reactions by others.

Digging to find answers and developing familiarity with the internal world is very important in healing chronic pain.

This is because the pain lies somewhere between the tissues, the nervous system and our thoughts which electrify our body systems.

Mind controls the body; breath controls the mind and as we become deeply familiar with their connection, we are able to self-regulate.

It takes lots of practice but is a practice that yields the most amazing results.

Breath is the key ingredient in bringing the mental and physical into balance with the spirit. It is the magical piece of the puzzle of our unique selves. It contains what the ancient eastern philosophies refer to as "chi" or "prana," intelligent life force energy.

I write these words, not because my story is so unique or interesting but because it is so common.

We have such intimate relationships with our own selves and only you can find your ability to heal yourself.

I can only relate my experience and hope you might draw some similarity to your own. Hopefully it will allow you to move forward from that point with a new color on your palette that can be used in yourself exploration.

How far along the path can we walk?

How high on the mountain can we climb in understanding the gentle balancing act of body mind and spirit?

Do the bodily pains prevent us from the journey or can we conquer them?

Well, it is up to the individual.

One can choose not to use the internal map of healing and instead rely on an external agent to heal you. A temporary fix at best!


One can choose to use the body map, as a guide, knowing that it may be a long and

challenging journey. As you travel along the trip there are many peaks and valleys.

A tremendous discipline and dedication is necessary to achieve this healing, this self-mastery.

It is up to the individual to take the first step, but if that step is taken, I urge you to continue, no matter what obstacles attempt to block your journey because healing is possible.

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