Don’t Make Pain the Enemy.

Don’t Make Pain the Enemy.

My friend Jeff once told me a strange story about a Japanese monk imprisoned during World War II. The Zen monk was being interrogated by the militaristic government for any possible information on antigovernment activities. To crack the monk, he was restrained on a table as water was slowly dropped on his forehead for many hours. Years later, during a reconciliation program in Japan, one of the guards who participated in the interrogation encountered the monk. Incredulously, he asked the monk, “You were the only one who didn’t break or fall apart. How…continue reading →

Video #5: When Should I Get Out Of Bed?

When you're not feeling well, whether it's an acute sickness or chronic condition, how do you know when it's time to get out of bed, part with the sweatpants, and return to the hive? What's the difference between resting, healing, and avoiding the demands and responsibilities of life? Also, how much Game of Thrones is too much? These are the questions that have been circulating in my mind over the last week and a half as I've been recovering from a surgery (I'm doing really well). I was given some fairly concrete prohibitions…continue reading →

#2: Help! I’m In Pain & What Should I Do?

What should I do if I am in pain? Here are three simple steps to reduce your pain, stress, and stop feeling like you need to police your pain and body all the time. 1. Acknowledge the pain. Take a breath, allowing what is here in this moment (including your dislike of it). 2. Notice your thoughts, especially judgmental thoughts and imperatives to "fix" the situation. 3. Connect with your desire to change. What do you really want? Try to just feel the intention without putting pressure on yourself to make it happen.…continue reading →

What Good Is Chronic Pain?

How is life with chronic pain different or the same as life without? Is it worse? Better? The first video in a 10 part series where I answer questions from viewers and students about the body, well-being, and the journey to greater health (in less than the time it takes to brush your teeth). Quote from the video: "Chronic pain is practice for being human."continue reading →
Dispatch From an Inflamed Knee

Dispatch From an Inflamed Knee

This last weekend I creaked around on an inflamed pair of knees. The act of standing had gone from a neutral activity to a distinctly painful and exhausting one. I found my shoulders migrating up towards my ears, fleeing the natural disaster below. My feet and toes were tense as well, as my brain endlessly recalculated how to stand without sending any weight through the knees. I know this is impossible, but there’s this part of my brain (a very old part, from an evolutionary perspective) that responds to pain in the most…continue reading →
How I Ended My War with Pain

How I Ended My War with Pain

Seven years ago, I developed a mysterious chronic pain in my upper body that had me unable to type, hold a piece of paper, and relegated to the cool wooden floor of my girlfriend’s apartment for hours a day. I was 26, unable to work, and learning to dial a phone with my toes. From my floor-bound perspective, I stared for hours at the ceiling fan, imagining where this health trajectory was heading. I, who could not open a tea wrapper, began to resolve myself to leave New York and be cared for…continue reading →
Unhooking Shame from Pain: A Way Out Of the Cycle

Unhooking Shame from Pain: A Way Out Of the Cycle

Pain is tough, of course, but the thoughts and feelings which pain can stir up are the real nightmare. In my own history and my private practice teaching adults with pain, feelings of shame are never far behind a chronic pain condition. In our culture, it seems easy to interpret pain or loss of function as a personal failure. We look around at gluten-loving, sedentary, slouchy coworkers and think: why don’t they have pain? I’ve tried so hard, done all my stretches and exercises, watched my food and drink, and still, my body…continue reading →
Good Posture Means Connecting, Not Correcting

Good Posture Means Connecting, Not Correcting

I'm not against correcting our posture or body on principle. I wish all it took to rid ourselves of chronic pain and tension was figuring the right angle or position, and tapping our body into place. It's such a seductive offer; that we need only arrange our body and then get on with the rest of our day. I object to correcting our posture on practical grounds; it doesn't work. From my perspective as an Alexander Technique teacher and a person dealing with chronic pain for several years, 'correcting' posture tends to tie…continue reading →
What No One Told Me about Chronic Pain

What No One Told Me about Chronic Pain

The pain is the easiest part. In my mid-20s, I consulted an orthopedist when my wrists started to feel warm after typing. He recommended ice packs and ibuprofen. In a thick Brooklyn accent, he asked, “You wanna take a couple days offa work?” The couple days stretched into months, and then years. Though neither of us knew it, this was the beginning of a chronic illness, and his prescription for Advil seems almost quaint to me now. The pain spread from my fingertips to my neck, and I couldn’t press a button or…continue reading →
Conquer Fear of Water and Manage Chronic Pain: Swimming and the Alexander Technique

Conquer Fear of Water and Manage Chronic Pain: Swimming and the Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is a set of skills that helps improve our performance with less stress and tension. It's a natural complement to swimming. By applying the AT to swimming, students have been able to overcome fear, stroke with greater efficiency, and breathe easily. That's why I am offering a special – you guessed it – Surf & Turf package that combines the two. The Alexander Technique helps to:  Improve the body's coordination, from as "simple" a movement as sitting, to swimming the front crawl.  Improve posture and natural muscle strength.  Dramatically increase…continue reading →