Living with Vitality: Treating headaches and migraines
Ryan Summerlin March 24, 2014
VAIL — I suffered from migraines for ten years, so I know how debilitating they can be. My experience with migraines was very intense for five of those years; my migraines occurred once each month and put me completely out of commission for 72 hours every time.
After futile attempts to find relief through modern medicine, I realized I was going to have to figure this out myself. Pain medications never worked for me. The pain would simply manifest in another form, or my migraines would become worse. This was no way to live.
POWER OF MEDITATION
When my children were born, I became intrigued with and impressed by the power of Lamaze training. I was fascinated with using self-administered breathing and meditation to work through pain, so I started meditating.
Then I began researching massage and focused on the shiatsu technique because I could administer it to myself. After much trial and error through self-practice, I created a 15-minute routine to help alleviate my migraine episodes. I did it every day and my migraine episodes began to grow shorter.
Ultimately, through massage and meditation, I began to notice tightness and tension in my body following my migraine experiences, and I realized there was a connection. Through a combination of breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and my Shiatsu routine, I was able to decrease the duration of my migraine episodes until they stopped altogether. I’ve been migraine-free for 30 years now and I’m eager to pass on the technique to others.
Pain in the brain
Through research and self-study, I’ve come to believe that migraines are the body’s response to trauma, and trauma is different for everyone. The trigger could be something as simple as hormonal changes during pregnancy or as dramatic as a blow to the head. Trauma overloads our nervous system and our body shuts down — for most of us, migraines disable our senses. We become sensitive to light, touch, taste, sound and smell.
Each migraine sufferer’s experience is unique, but whatever that experience it will always be the same for that person. Migraines become the “normal” response to trauma, so the episode becomes the body’s natural reaction. The body has learned to respond in this way without our interference.
CREATE A NEW NORMAL
To alleviate and even cure intense headache and migraine experiences, we must stop participating — consciously or unconsciously — in this normal response behavior. We need to create a new normal for ourselves. To do this we must interrupt the cycle.
My goal is to take away the participatory role individuals play in their intense headache and migraine experiences. Through observation, I help them un-learn the pattern using breath work, body awareness, relaxation, meditation and touch techniques.
The biggest obstacle for people with chronic pain is what they believe to be true. If we can step outside of or away from those beliefs we can find relief. This approach uses no medications, has no side effects and only lasts two months. The worst that can happen is that you’ll end up right back where you started. What do you have to lose?
Tom Bacon is a massage therapist and certified Rolfer interested in dominant patterns in people’s bodies. In his experience, the body is very forgiving and patterns that have been carried for years can be reversed. Bacon is in need of participants for a study he is conducting in May that focuses on those suffering from migraines or intense headaches. The study involves a weekly commitment over the course of two to three months and includes individual sessions with Bacon to cultivate a new pattern using techniques that can be applied at home. For more information, contact Bacon at the Vail Vitality Center at 970-476-7960.