I've been managing a migraine for the better part of a week, hence the downturn in posting. I went an entire month between this bout and the last, definitely progress. There I was, getting all optimistic that I'd totally cracked the code, that I was done with these miserable brain-suckers. Reality is a bitch sometimes.
I do want to share an insight I've been hovering over, on the topic of mind over matter. In yoga, we place a lot of emphasis on the breath. There are many categories of yogic breathing practice, the catch-all of which is pranayama, about which I'm not speaking of specifically here. I'm referring here to "mindful breathing", wherein one doesn't so much try to methodically control the flow of breath but to bring it actively to certain places in the body. Theoretically, it's the kind of thing anyone can do, yoga-minded or no.
If that sounds totally esoteric or implausible, fair enough. I've spent years and years in a culture that espouses, nay deifies, breath control though I have always been at the margins. Don't misunderstand, I know it's powerful stuff: I've observed my own (tachycardic) heart rate slow dramatically in response to pranayama. But the idea of breath linked to visual imagery hasn't been tremendously, personally meaningful.
However, I've observed lately, when I have the headaches, and every muscle in my body (above my lumbar spine) contracts to the extent that my mobility is often compromised, that I erect all kinds of mechanisms, internally, to escape from the "original" pain. It's like, subconsciously, I am so afraid of confronting it that I construct pain blockers in the form of other kinds of (more manageable) pain, simply to avoid whatever unknowable, untenable core pain awaits. Don't misunderstand, my muscle cramping (and migraines) is primarily as a result of estrogen imbalance, not my will gone haywire.
But I have discovered, after many hideous hours, locked in a standoff with my body, that if I breathe deeply, methodically, when I'm in the grip of pain that frightens me existentially, that I can get from the fear, to the pain, in a way that I can handle.
People, the worst of pain, sometimes, is in your body's response to it. Having had a child without any medication, I can assure you that this is true, at least some percentage of the time.
On much, real-world reflection, the most searing seat of pain, in my brain, is not as crushing as the process of constantly running from it.
So, to those of you who are managing some sort of chronic pain of any of the myriad varieties - and trust me, I don't like to think of myself as someone managing chronic pain, though it appears, at the moment, that I am: Perhaps you'd like to think of breath imagery, or meditation, not simply as a crunchy esoteric practice, but as a sort of physio wherein you link your body's response to pain with your ability to confront it.
I'm in the weeds here, and I can say it's better than nothing. In fact, sometimes, it's profoundly comforting. That's what I've got today, anyhow.
But I'd love any of your own thoughts and feelings on pain management. Please, let's not be isolated in our experiences of pain - of any sort. Let's talk it through.