Move With Deb Podcast – Liberation via Understanding Pain
Please feel free to reach out to me via instagram @movewithdeb or book a curiosity call at https://calendly.com/paincoachdeb
My website is www.debmalkin.com
[00:00:00] Welcome to Move With Deb. I’m Deb your friendly neuroplastician. And this is a podcast that explores the relationship between the body and the mind from a health at every size, judgment, free perspective. I teach you how developing a new internal conversation based on curiosity, self friendship and simple neuro-plasticity techniques can rewire your bodymind out of pain and emotional overwhelm to help you build the rich full life that you want to live. Disclaimer, this is not a replacement for medical care.
[00:00:50] Hello, and welcome to move with Deb. This is episode number 31. And I’m going to talk about two little exercises that you can do to pay attention to your subconscious. And I’m talking about subconscious in relationship to movement and fear and pain.
[00:01:15] Pay attention to your subconscious. Your brain has opinions. So listen up my dearest darling podcast listeners. Just because your brain says words you do not need to believe them as true. I did a previous episode on cognitive diffusion and fusion and acceptance and commitment therapy. And I’ll drop a link in there that explains what I’m talking about.
[00:01:47] But if I teach you only one thing. This statement is it. That you do not need to believe every thought that your brain says to you. But the answer is to not tell your brain to shut up. It’s an invitation to pay attention. We want to notice what our subconscious is saying to us.
[00:02:12] For instance, I was walking up a hill and upon the slight change in elevation my brain offered me the following thoughts due to the perception that my legs felt heavy.
[00:02:25] ” This hill, shouldn’t be hard.” “You’re so out of shape.” “You’re a fraud. You talk about becoming pain-free. And look here’s pain.” “My legs are so heavy. Let’s give up.”
[00:02:39] So those were the thoughts that popped into my head immediately upon this elevation change because my legs felt heavy. Thank you brain preciate, all those kind and encouraging words.
[00:02:54] So first tip. This is normal.
[00:02:58] This is just a function of our brain’s predictive coding. This is a function of how maybe we’ve always talked to ourselves in the past. This is a function of a fear brain moving into protection mode. So one, there’s nothing wrong with you. This is just kind of normal brain stuff. Brain says words. Oftentimes when it’s trying to protect us it will say literally the most ridiculous things. And we don’t have to believe these unhelpful thoughts. Or even go to debate club with them. Like we don’t have to argue with them. I even had a client once, who as we were doing this work, could feel the sensory experience of her brain wanting to like go to lawyer’s speak. When her brain was going to offer her like a defense and just kind of throw a lot of thoughts at her that she was going to have to deal with.
[00:03:58] I think that the brain is protecting our body. We have a perception that something we’re going to do is dangerous. Our brain swoops in trying to keep us from doing it. Right.
[00:04:10] So the first thing is just to notice that you’re having a feeling that’s being narrated with words. So it’s like a movie. My body walked up that hill, there was a change in elevation which created a sensory experience shift, from where I was feeling comfort walking to a slight discomfort. And then my brain wanted to pop in and narrate it. But instead of just narrating it like an observation, like a documentary. It was maybe narrating it like a horror movie or some kind of disaster film. So we want to take it back to just noticing that you’re having a feeling that’s being narrated with words. Are they documentary words or are they doomsday, bad prediction words? So we wanted then recognize if fear has been triggered. And then ask ourselves. Why am I afraid? Am I afraid of falling? Is my gates stable? Am I moving faster than comfortable?
[00:05:25] My body suddenly tensed. And it was about to power through only making my muscles more tense and more tender. The next step is to relax. I kept walking. And I talked to my brain. In a friendly and gentle voice. This took five seconds. I said, Nope. We are safe and we’re fine. And we will walk up this hill at our own pace. Then my body released its tension. The subconscious tension was meant to help me power through. Right. We create tension in our muscles to give us force. But when we apply force, when we don’t need force, all we’re left with is tension. The idea is that we want to brace when we need it and release when we don’t need it.
[00:06:20] So as I talked to my brain, in a kind and friendly voice when I told it that it was safe. And then I also said, we’re going to move up this hill at our own pace. My body released the tension. That was a physiological process related to the way that I was speaking to myself. I wasn’t releasing tension like when you do an exercise where you squeeze your body and then release the tension. It was not a conscious process. This was a subconscious process. I spoke to my brain and then my body responded. And after my body released the tension. I noticed I had more energy. And more capacity for movement. And I had no pain.
[00:07:08] Then the next step, the fourth step. Is to give myself a high five. Is to freaking celebrate, not pushing through, not being mean to myself and also not believing the shitty unhelpful thoughts that my brain offered to me when I had that moment of fear.
[00:07:30] And to remind you that moment of fear arose when I had moved into a difficult or uncomfortable or slightly like it ,really wasn’t a big hill seriously was not a big hill. So even this makes me laugh. Right because I have this mind, body awareness. Literally, it was like the slightest incline and my brain was like, oh my God, this is hard. You can’t do it. So I have the ability to just recognize like, oh, even just the slightest change in a sensory experience can invite the brain to make a commentary. Right. So it’s narrating my physiological experience. I was able to say. We are safe. We are not in danger. And then my body responded and then I was able to move with ease.
[00:08:23] So then the rest of my walk was a breeze. It was no drama. I walked up the hill. I got to my destination. Walking was relaxed and easy. All of my motor capacity was available to me because I wasn’t holding this subconscious tension.
[00:08:42] So do you talk to yourself? Do you talk to your brain? What do you do when you notice your brain wants to say something negative? Are there times when you’re moving and you’re telling yourself you’re too slow. You used to do this better. Try to take that as a cue to speak to yourself kindly and see how that changes your pain or moveability.
[00:09:08] Here’s another story about proprioception, fear, and what I call muscle go-time.
[00:09:15] I’m back to lifting after two years. And it’s rather humbling putting the bar on my back for the first time in a long time. All of that shit that goes into being able to place my arms in that position, we’re definitely feeling it. And I know that with work and practice with a broomstick. Those muscles will open up just like it did before. Bodies respond to the work we ask of them. But doing it safely has its complexities. So knowing where our bodies are in space, a sense of proprioception is directly wired into our nervous system.
[00:09:53] The first squat. I had expected to make it down to the stool. I had been squatting the last few weeks, but that was without a bar on my back. So I was holding a 10 pound weight in front of me. And I was squatting to a box. And that was feeling great.
[00:10:12] So I put the bar on my back. I was like, okay, it’s time for this next step. And then when I squatted my brain was waiting for my butt to make contact with the seat and it just didn’t. And there were just one or two times I like flopped down to the seat. And then the bar was just like up on my neck now it was a light bar and I was safe.
[00:10:36] But my body was so confused as to whether I was close or far away from the stool. It felt like my behind was just suspended in midair. So then my coach added mats to the seat to raise up the height of the stool and I squatted again, and my butt made contact with the seat and then my nervous system relaxed, and I was not off balanced or scared or confused. This is with the bar on my back. So I was like, oh, damn, we know where we are and we know what to do. And then I drove myself back up to standing with ease.
[00:11:17] Having physical cues to orient you to your body and a sense of safety is so vitally important. For some people, they feel that flying through the air on a snowboard, jumping a hill. They understand where they are in space and they feel a sense of safety. Some people walking while using a cane or hiking with poles, gives them a sense of knowing where they are in space. Movement can grow and evolve over time. And it can also improve quickly. As I watched the amount of weight I lift every week, go up and up.
[00:11:54] We always need to start where we are.
[00:11:56] And so learning to pay attention, to both the physical activities, but also the subconscious thoughts that arise when you move and then the sensations of fear or safety. This is the process by which we create moveability inside of us, where we create safety for being able to move and where we teach the nervous system that we’re safe and that we’re okay. And that we do not need the protection of pain.
[00:12:31] So I use coaching as a tool to help my clients develop this metacognitive somatic awareness for insight, skill building, and mind, body transformation. In my program. I teach you about the brain. And I teach you about the nervous system with polyvagal theory. And they teach you how they’re related. And then I teach you how to develop the embodied awareness of your own personal bespoke mind, body.
[00:13:01] And I teach you how to create this top down and bottom up somatic experience in your life. I believe learning is an embodied practice. Dr. Sarno helped change thousands of people’s back pain, where they three hour lecture. And later a book. How can a book heal your pain?
[00:13:23] Cause it sounds crazy. Especially in this body-based intervention world.
[00:13:29] But the reason that this works is the same reason that my approach to coaching works through developing the skill of loving self friendship and curious awareness. Deciding new thoughts and beliefs on purpose and using the brains process of neuro-plasticity.
[00:13:46] We train the body, just like training and fitness. We train the body. That these movements are safe. That they are available to you. That there possible. And it feels like magic, but it is science.
[00:14:01] And it’s legit to not believe what I’m saying. But if you are at least curious and willing to explore, reach out. Or just keep listening to my podcast and watching my content on Instagram. And just saying to yourself maybe feeling different. is possible for me.
[00:14:19] And if you repeat that concept to yourself, Maybe feeling differently is possible for me, your mind and body will give you the opportunity to notice feeling different being possible.
[00:14:32] Thank you always for listening, for coming on this journey with me of teaching you more about the relationship between the mind and body. And about how we can rewire ourselves out of chronic pain and chronic conditions.