Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pain and healing

There are a lot of thoughts about magic and healing.  I have often seen it stated that you shouldn't do anything magical when you are under the weather or hurt except for self-healing work.  But as one of my friends pointed out, if you have a chronic condition, you either learn to work with your own body and energy levels or you don't work.

For me, I think it is always hard to do work when I am hurting or sick.  Not so much because I can't do the work, but rather I just get so caught up in that miserable head space that it doesn't even occur to me to do something about it!  It is definitely something that I am working on.

I'm also a very 'work through the pain' kind of person.  When I am sick or sore, my first instinct is to just grin and bear it, to continue on doing what I was going to do anyways, or even to push myself harder (just to prove I can...I'm kind of stubborn about that).

Today was a pretty good example.  I had pain in my neck and shoulders as well as some kind of sinus thing and all that led to a solidly throbbing headache.  Which I promptly tried to ignore.  Then I took some pain medicine (just over the counter stuff).  Finally, I decided to try to stretch out the body and work with yoga and directed healing breathing to help with the headache.  And a hot shower (more on that in a bit)!  And now, hours later, the neck/shoulders still ache (but are better), but my head isn't killing me anymore (though everything still looks too bright).

So, I figured I'd talk about some of the things I do when things hurt.  I am definitely in the 'do what works for you' camp.  I think we all respond differently to things, and what works for me might not work for you at all.  But, in case it does, I thought I'd share!

I'll start with headaches, as I think that is my most common complaint.  I used to try to track my pains, but it was sort of depressing, so I stopped.  It is not uncommon for me to have headaches multiple days a week, or ones that last for several days.  Often they radiate out from my sinuses, but both front and back of the head are also pretty common.

I am definitely not against over the counter medicine.  I tend to try to avoid it for 'little' pain (and I classify anything that doesn't actually stop me from doing what I had planned on doing as little), but I am slowly learning that little pain often blossoms into big pain and that doing something to stop it before it gets too much is so much better.

Massage is definitely one of the first things I do, for a headache.  I'll rub the back of my neck, my temples, the bridge of my nose or the base of my skull...wherever it hurts.  Sometimes, that is enough to help lessen the pain.  I also like to get my hands really cold before I do the massage, so run them under cold water or hold a cup of ice, so that I can apply cold as I rub.

I also find that a pressure point in the very center of each palm often helps.  I always press the right hand (using my left hand) first, as my left hand is weaker, and if I press that point first, it can't press as hard.  This is one of those points that is on a nerve, so I do feel a little pain, which always pushes away the head pain while I am pressing, and often will reduce the pain even after I am done pressing. 

I also love a hot shower, for headaches.  Especially those with sinus or neck strain.  As hot as I can stand (which is pretty hot), I will start the water off hot, and then nudge it hotter as I get used to it.  If I am going to take a pain medicine, I often take it right before the shower, so that it can be working as the heat is working too.  If I am having any sinus pain, I will put my face in the water, holding my hands over my nose so that I can breathe in carefully through my nose without inhaling water, but still getting all that hot, humid air as well as the direct hot water right on my nose.

I really like stones for pain as well.  I have a few that I love.  One, I recently picked up is Brecciated Jasper.  The one I have is carved as a worry stone, so it has a nice flat side that I can hold against someplace that is hurting.  My oldest stone for healing is just a round 'river' stone (the kind you can get for landscaping), almost palm sized.  I read a long time ago about how the Pow-wow (the Pennsylvania Dutch, not American Indian) tradition used a stone to represent fire and for healing, and I loved the idea.  I find that the cold stone held up against someplace in pain feels incredible.

We are still in cold season, and colds are definitely something I treat with food.  If I start getting a runny nose or sore throat, my first reaction is to start putting garlic, ginger and cayenne in about anything I can put it into.  I almost always make myself soup with all three.  I also sprinkle powdered garlic and cayenne on other foods.  For a sore throat I am a huge fan of honey and apple cider vinegar.  I like mine strong, so I go with at least three teaspoons each mixed into a glass of water.  I also find this is great for digestion.  When my throat is sore, I also always crave beer..something about the yeast.

When I am congested, I often like to have a hot bath.  It is also nice to have scented steam, so I will add tea bags or loose herbs to the bath.  I actually like baths for all kinds of healing.  I will add olive oil to treat dry skin (though it does always make me think of pasta!), or lavender for a relaxing soak during menstruation (the heat definitely helps me with any cramps).

As I mentioned earlier, I have a pretty solid stubborn streak.  I like to push myself, and often end up sore after exercising.  I have a knee that gives me trouble, and am sort of klutzy so it is pretty common for me to have bruises and scrapes that I might not know how I got.

I'm a little bit paradoxical when it comes to actual injuries.  Most of the time I try to stretch an injury out.  If it is serious enough that I feel the need to wear a brace or avoid a certain action, then I will definitely do that.  Sometimes I use the brace as a reminder to be gentle on that part of my body.  But even when using a brace, I will reach a point where I need to use the injured part.  My body responds really well to mindful exercise.  Even when my knee is at it's worse, walking or doing exercises that work the muscles around it end up helping more than trying to keep off of it.  It's a sort of funny distinction, and sometimes it can be hard to figure out which way I should be going:  rest or work!

For bruises, I definitely believe in massaging them.  I find that rubbing a bruise helps break it up and bring healing to the area so that it goes away quicker.  For small cuts (things that don't require stitches of course), I apply pressure to stop any bleeding, but I dislike wearing bandages.  If I am going to be doing something particularly messy, then I will, but otherwise I much prefer to let them breathe.

I am very hands-on with injuries.  Anytime things hurt, I will use my hands in some way to direct healing to the area.  I often do this by massage (especially for achy muscles), but also just by laying a hand or fingertip over the area.

I also love chanting, so if I can think of an appropriate chant, I will use one.  Fire chants for chills, water chants for fever, air chants for respiratory and earth for body aches.  There is a Braucherei chant that really resonates with me that I use all the time, mostly for headaches. 

"Across a red plain I see a red wood,
and in the red wood I see a red church,
and in the red church I see a red altar,
and on the red altar I see a red book,
and on the red book I see a red knife,
and with the red knife I cut out the pain."

I believe, when I read this, that it suggested using a red handled knife as a focus for any healing work with that charm, and that it should be repeated 9 times (9 is a power number in Braucherei).  While I do have a red handled knife (its a Swiss army knife, which I think is great for a healing focus with the red handle and little shield and cross icon), often I'll just put my first two fingers on my temples (or wherever the pain is) and repeat it three times (as three is one of my power numbers).  Braucherei has many interesting healing chants, but this one really stuck with me.

A final thing I almost always do when anyone in my house has been sick.  Once they are well, I will burn incense and carry it and a candle around to all the rooms to banish any remaining sickness or stagnant energy and to restore health and balance to the house.  It doesn't feel clean until I do.

I'll end with a suggestion that someone I knew made several years back.  We were talking about healing in a forum, and about how we often don't feel up to serious energy work while ill.  And one of the ladies said she charges candles for healing and keeps them in her supplies, so that when she is under the weather, she has candles that she personally charged to burn even though she might not have energy in the moment to add to them.  I always thought that was a really lovely idea (even though I haven't actually done it yet).  I think it could be easily expanded to small personal healing kits, with pre-charged candles, incense, stones or whatever else you think you might need.

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