The Message of Pain

Pain is not the Problem. Pain is a message that something is out of balance. As we get past the fear of pain, we will discover its value in helping us focus more powerfully on our desire to be well.

Many people, who seek Matrix Repatterning, are looking for solutions to their pain. When a patient asks me if I can get rid of their pain, I usually respond in one of two ways:

I will tell them that “I am not interested in getting rid of their pain”. After a brief pause, I am certain that many people ask themselves if they are in the right office. I then proceed to tell them that I AM interested in getting rid of the problem that is causing the pain. The pain has, in fact, provided us with a very useful service. It has alerted us to a problem, and it can also prevent us from further damaging an already injured area. The goal of Matrix Repatterning is to identify and correct the source of the problem. Once that happens, the pain takes care of itself.

Another way I respond is to help them understand the purpose of pain by thinking of it as information in the form of electrical energy. Many studies now verify what we have been saying for the past 20 years, that the body is an electrical system, that normally allows electricity (the energy that feeds the cells of the body) to flow freely. However, when we are injured, the affected parts of the body become rigid and resist or block the flow of electricity. This is similar to how an electric stove works. When you turn up the temperature control, you are increasing the amount of electricity going through the element. The stove element is a resistor, which blocks the flow of electrons. This causes the metal in the element to heat up.

In very much the same way, when the body is injured, the cells in the injured area become more resistant to the flow of electrical current. This leads to increased tension, irritation, swelling and inflammation resulting in pain.

Some sources of irritation are misinterpreted by the nervous system, which causes us to sense that the pain is coming from some place other than the source of the irritation. This is called referred pain. The Matrix assessment detects the actual sources of injury, so it sometimes surprising for the patient that their problem is located in an area that they did not sense as painful. However, the area of injury is usually tender to the touch.

Dealing with Pain

Remember what it feels like to have an eyelash in our eye. Think of the amount of discomfort this causes, then ask yourself how many other things in your body are uncomfortable or painful? All of it combined, usually will not tip the scales in terms of the thousands of body parts and trillions of cells that are functioning perfectly and feeling just fine. But, it is the discomfort or the pain that we focus on. It often provokes a sense of worry or even fear. What is causing my pain? Do I have a serious condition? And, the more we focus on our pain, the more distressed, tense and uncomfortable we tend to become. This becomes a ‘vicious cycle’.

Pain may be defined by the area in which it is felt. We may even feel that it has a definite boundary. By recognizing that pain is simply energy that is impeded, and caused by tension and resistance in the area, we can make a new choice. Instead of becoming fearful and tensing up against the pain, we can choose to consciously relax our mind and body, which can allow the trapped electrical energy to flow through the area. We might be surprised how quickly we can release the tension and reduce the sensation of pain. As we accomplish this, we are doing much more than just reducing our pain. We are also allowing the electrical energy of the body – the life- giving force that feeds and supports well-being in every cell – to flow more freely to the injured part that is asking (through the message of pain) to receive the energy it needs to restore balance.

By coming to an understanding of the purpose and the opportunity provided by pain, we can decide to respond to it in a more appropriate and helpful manner. A positive response to our pain can actually help our body overcome the injury that caused it in the first place. The exercise outlined below is designed to alter your perception of pain by using a positive mental image to reduce its intensity and degree. Instead of perpetuating a vicious cycle, you can replace it with a ‘virtuous cycle’.

A Simple Mental Exercise to Help Reduce Pain: Dissolving the Pain

  1. Find a comfortable position, sitting or lying down.
  2. Focus your attention on the area of pain. Define the current boundary of the painful area.
  3. Visualize the boundary beginning to soften around the edges. Feel the muscles and tissues in the area of the pain begin to relax and soften. Imagine the boundary of the pain begin to melt or dissolve. As you do this, focus on your breathing, making it comfortably full and relaxed.
  4. Next, imagine the area of pain begin to shrink away from the former outline. Do this in several steps, allowing the painful area to become smaller and smaller, each time feeling the new boundary softening as in the step above.

With a little practice, you should be able to diminish the intensity of your pain and therefore reduce your overall level of stress and tension. This can help break the cycle of pain-stress-pain that can often become so debilitating. Don’t worry if you‘re not successful right away. You may find that as your Matrix Repatterning treatment progresses, the pain will begin to reduce enough for you to begin applying this exercise more effectively. Throughout the day, whenever you feel a twinge, or if the pain or discomfort begins to arise, use it as your cue to relax and soften the area around it, in order to disperse the tension, and allow the sensation to dissolve. This will help you develop a much more constructive habit with respect to any pain that might arise in the future.

The combination of both the physical treatments and the mental approaches described above may be more powerful than either might be individually. In this way, you can become an active part of your own recovery. We don’t need to let pain take us out. We can use it to help ourselves achieve the well-being we desire.

George Roth, DC, ND, CMRP

Dr. Roth is a graduate of the University of Toronto, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and the Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine and has studied osteopathic medicine at Doctors' Hospital North, Columbus, Ohio. He is the developer of Matrix Repatterning and is the Director of Education at the Matrix Institute in Toronto. Dr. Roth has presented seminars at numerous hospital and university‐based symposia throughout North America. He is the co‐author, with Kerry D’Ambrogio PT, of Positional Release Therapy (Elsevier, 1997), and the author of The Matrix Repatterning Program for Pain Relief (New Harbinger, 2005). His work is also featured in the Brain’s Way of Healing, by Dr. Norman Doidge (Penguin, 2015).