Want to stop adding to your migraines? I have been focusing with migraines, a type of therapy, for years now and it has changed the way I deal with them. And myself.
I bet you thought I was talking about trying to focus when you have a migraine, right? I can’t think straight when I have one. The confusion sets in long before the pain phase and I just have to stop what I am doing as quickly as possible and head for bed.
Using focusing techniques, I can tune in, calm down, and then make wiser decisions. These crucial action steps help me stop my attack as early as possible.
If you get migraines, you need to act fast.
If stress is a migraine trigger for you, then learning focusing might just stop the next one.
In the area of treating chronic pain, there seems to be a huge gap leaving out migraines. In my experience most therapies pertain to the spine or back, the neck, a limb or some trauma or injury.
Not one has said, with migraines, when you can't think ... do this. So with every therapy I learn and use, I need to tweak it for migraines.
Not so much with focusing as it includes all body sensations and you find the word that fits for you. And as Ann Weiser Cornell says "just let the word pain float away."
Now we both know it’s not as simple as that. I don’t know about you, but I used to have huge overwhelming emotions come up around this whole migraine condition and I didn’t know it then, but the anxiety sure added to my pain levels.
This can help in so many ways, I have decided to write a book on it. I started it three years ago and its nearing completion, so stay tuned.
Let’s face it, I get 20 migraines every month and there is no way I could afford to have someone talk with me around them that often. We need something we can use, when we need it. Night or day.
The thing I love most about this therapy is that you can do it with a trained therapist, a focusing buddy, or just by yourself. And it is amazingly effective at helping you cope with overwhelming emotions, especially at 3AM.
And so until I finish my book, I share some tips from my guru, Ann Weiser Cornell.
In her emails she says "Do you have a question about Focusing? Just REPLY to this email with your question."
So I did. I did not actually expect a response for some reason, but within the week she answered. This email is shared with her permission.
So here's what I wrote in to ask about focusing with migraines:
"Last week’s Tip really spoke to my heart as I have a few chronic illnesses I am managing. They feel like stuck places. (Chronic migraines and chronic fatigue syndrome).
So many people believe you can just solve these somehow, if you just stop stressing or just think positive!
There is a part of me that is hoping for change and is often being let down (24 years). And there is the part that needs to be real to deal with the day to day.
Is there some way to just be OK with barely functioning each day? How do we speak to the illness in the body that won’t shift?
I believe change is possible, and yet I grow weary. Become skeptical and deflated. Focusing helps me greatly with emotions ... but what about when it's physical? Physical stuckness, that more than likely won’t change."
This is Ann's reply:
I hear a lot of courage in your determination to find some way to live resiliently with your chronic illnesses. No wonder you grow weary... or something in you does.
I am a big believer in being real. From the Focusing viewpoint, being real means sensing and dealing with how it is right now. Nobody knows the future.
Something in you might say, "Be real. Accept that this can never change." but I would call that a part of you, not the whole You.
Here are some tips that might help.
(1) Although having a diagnosis is helpful so you can get the right treatment, you can also let go of the label (for example, "chronic fatigue") and just make a relationship with how you are actually feeling right now.
(2) With chronic conditions we can start to think the feeling will be always the same, like "always tired." But body process is always subtly different. Try sensing how you feel (how "it" feels) right now as if you had never felt it before. Allow fresh images and metaphors to emerge. "It's like..."
(3) Say "Hello" to the feeling that is here right now and sense how It would like You to be with It. What happens might surprise you.
Please be in touch and let me know how it goes ..."
Ann Weiser Cornell
Now besides feeling like a rockstar just because Ann replied to me, it made a lot of sense. So simple and so clear. Something new.
And I needed that because I used to beat myself up for not being able to cure my migraines, and many times I hated my body for betraying me.
Focusing with migraines is a great resource for building your resilience muscles.
As a qualified counsellor I use focusing with migraines with some other tools I find to be effective, but I can't tell you all the secrets here.
I will be doing more trials with clients in a few months, so if you want to join in make sure you contact me.
And without further ado, here is my upcoming book ....
Help is on the way to calm the emotional chaos. Don't let it add to your symptoms or increase your pain any longer.
Focusing With Migraines