Disabling chronic pain through the spiritual
THE four-hourly doses of morphine were such a welcome relief to the intense pain I was experiencing following major surgery. What could possibly make me give them up?
Amazingly, I found there was something that could persuade me to do so.
And that's why, I want to share my experience with the sufferers who are being invited to break their silence about chronic pain for National Pain Week.
In Australia, one in five people live with chronic pain, including adolescents and children. This prevalence rises to one in three people over the age of 65. Chronic pain is linked to depression and suicide and is Australia's third most costly health condition.
To manage it, a range of treatments that address the mental state as well as physical condition are employed. These include physio and physical therapy, medical acupuncture, thinking strategies, lifestyle changes, nutrition and traditional prescription opioids.
Despite this, pain is often long-lasting and continues for years with no foreseeable end.
However, there's a groundswell of people that believe it's time to do more than simply MANAGE pain. They are convinced it can be reduced, and even healed.
According to a 2011 report from the US Institute of Medicine, "one reason pain is so hard to treat is that it isn't just physical." Our thinking can actually have an impact on the amount of pain we feel.
The power of our expectations is illustrated in a study into the relationship between pain and the placebo effect. Researchers from the University of Turin in Italy replaced intravenous injections of morphine with saline to patients having dental work. Astounding results from the unmedicated saline reported a much higher pain tolerance than you would normally find even when given morphine.
Hundreds of patients in placebo trials treating irritable bowel syndrome, migraine and back pain experienced similar or better results from placebos than from strong pain killers.
While it's agreed that placebos are not a universal panacea, placebo research leads us to think about the relevance of mind-power and how much influence thought actually has on our health.
Reasoning from a more spiritual perspective, author Mary Baker Eddy, reached a similar conclusion, explaining in her key text on prayer-based healing that pain is always a mental image or state.
"… the human mind is all that can produce pain," she wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Her explanations, showing the influence of negative thoughts such as fear, echo Biblical texts such as the words of King David, written in 900 BCE: "A grievous vision is declared unto me … therefore are my loins filled with pain:" (Psalms)
But can pain really be relieved just by thinking differently?
Yes, but in my experience I have found that it needs more than just positive thinking to free us from pain.
So, back to my stay in hospital. In my late-teens I was "on fire" with enthusiasm about a couple of unique books which I had recently revisited. They answered so many of the questions I had about why we are here and whether what our senses perceive is all there is to existence.
The Bible, so comforting to so many people, didn't seem all that relevant to me until I started earnestly reading Science and Health, which brings out its spiritual meaning and explains how and why not only Jesus, but also his early disciples and many of the Old Testament prophets, were able to heal all kinds of physical needs.
I learned that there was a spiritual science in place based on a divine consciousness of being, and I'd had some modest success in applying it. For instance, a toothache had vanished as I had caught a glimpse of my real nature as expressing divine Spirit, rather than just matter.
I was deeply grateful for the nurses and doctors who provided their superb skill and loving care through a more physically based science. Yet, lying there in oblivion between doses of painkillers just wasn't cutting it for me anymore.
My studies had shown the importance of addressing the spiritual need as an aid to recovery, a standpoint now supported by medical research.
I started reading the thought-changing book again right there in hospital, and called a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me by helping me to understand more consistently my real, spiritual nature.
I can still remember the feeling of love and wholeness that engulfed me soon after. No more drugs were needed, and worrying digestive difficulties painlessly dissipated that day.
As you can imagine, I wanted to know more about the mental nature of health after that!
This spiritual approach of Christian Science offers a very different sense of mental control. It's not a matter of willpower, doing something with the human brain. It's a spiritual sense yielding to the recognition that if Divinity is truly all-knowing and all-acting, that logically leaves nothing that can suffer.
On this basis, many have been healed of chronic pain, and demonstrated that such pain need not last forever. Peace and health are a present possibility for those willing to dig deeper into the understanding of their spiritual identity.
My own spiritual practice of Christian Science has helped me so much, I'm curious to see how the elements involved are being recognised and implemented in society www.health4thinkers.com