About six months ago, my back went out on me and I was bedridden for three days. During the first two days, I almost called 9-1-1 several times because it was a herculean task to stand up and to seat myself on the toilet. For several hours on the first night, I couldn’t get up. Luckily, I did not need to relieve myself during this time. I dreaded soiling myself.
My collapse was particularly embarrassing because I teach the Alexander Technique, an educational approach to moving freely. I can usually Alexander my way out of these problems, but not this time. My best thinking just made my problem worse.
From about age 23, my back has gone out on me a couple of times a year. The first time it happened, circa 1993, I rolled out of bed about 2 am and my back went out for the first time I remember and I couldn’t get up. I was alone in my parents’ home and the closest neighbors outside my window were about a mile away. I cried and cried for help but nobody could hear me. After about an hour, I was able to get up on my own, relieve myself, and go back to bed.
Usually a chiropractor can pop me back into place when my back goes out and I can immediately go on with my life. Otherwise, I just have to rest for a couple of days and the problem goes away.
Practicing the Alexander Technique reduced my problem but did not eliminate it.
After my last collapse, a friend suggested strain-counter strain therapy (positional release) with Gadi Kaufman (GadiBody.com) in Santa Monica. He provided immediate freedom from my crippling muscle spasms. I read his book and practiced his daily releases and bought a standing desk and I have been pain free ever since. (I also bought an activator for $150 and a $140 textbook on how to use it and that has, so far, eliminated my need for conventional physical therapy, which I used to get every few months because my wrists would get stiff and I’d start to develop symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, a problem I’ve had on and off for about 12 years.)
I’ve found that living pain-free requires the maintenance of my physical, psychological and spiritual condition. By practicing the things I’ve learned from Gadi and company, I do well. When I don’t do my daily practices, I start experiencing pain (physical, psychological, and spiritual).
If I’m getting hysterical or struggling with dramatic problems, I am going to tighten my muscles and this will inevitably lead to pain, reduced functioning and possible collapse. I learned in 12-Step rooms that if it is hysterical, it is historical. If it is dramatic, it is traumatic. As I haven’t experiencing hysteria in years nor painful drama in months, I think I’m walking the path of recovery and in doing so, I’ve healed many childhood wounds. Maybe an unexpected one will jump up today and slay me. Who knows. Humility means living in reality. Humiliation means getting caught ignoring reality. Distress comes from refusing to accept reality.
I love to do Gadi’s ten basic positional releases every morning. That takes about an hour. I usually listen to a 12-Step phone meeting or some inspiring lecture when I do them and I tend to emerge refreshed, flexible and ready to tackle my day. If I’m rushed and don’t get to do the releases, I can feel the increased body tension I’m lugging around. To operate with maximum freedom, I have to release my unnecessary tension. I have to release my habitual selfish thinking to operate with maximum spiritual and psychological freedom and I find 12-Step meetings and literature help me do this more effectively than anything else I know.
If you have an unhealthy addiction, you have a sword above your head. If you have destructive compulsions that you can’t always control, then your life can go off the rails at any time if you aren’t maintaining a healthy spiritual condition. If you have certain muscular tension patterns (for instance, I find my right hip naturally tends to torque from driving, etc, unless I take time to release particular muscles such as psoas), they can collapse you unless you release the strain on a regular basis. If you tend to grandiosity or self-pity or boredom, these tendencies can push you in unhealthy directions and even destroy your life.
On the other hand, if I maintain a healthy regime, my life flows smoothly. It’s been months since I’ve had a serious problem. I feel like I am flowing from strength to strength.