I can’t even remember when I first heard the expression ‘mind-body connection’. Possibly decades ago. It seemed plausible to me that there could be a relationship between my thoughts and emotions and my physiology. But it really wasn’t something that I spent time contemplating or had noticed any evidence of in my own life. That is until a few years ago …
In 2016 as I trained for the Oxfam 100km walk I was beset by a knee injury. It was one of the random injuries that come from nowhere? Have you ever had one of those? You wake up with it or it suddenly hurts when you get into, or out of, a certain position? With Oxfam in my sights, I wasted no time making an appointment with my physiotherapist who had treated a similar injury in the opposite knew a few months earlier.
Claire was not your average physio. She had an extensive toolkit, filled with complementary modalities including Finch and Bowen therapies. After a few weeks of treatment, Claire and I were a little perplexed because my earlier knee injury had resolved much more quickly. Claire suggested a scan and medical review which ultimately led me to an orthopaedic surgeon. There was some wear and tear in my knee as would be the case with most 48-year-olds. Thankfully for me, the surgeon suggested I wasn’t likely to see the level of improvement that I was looking for from surgery and recommended against it.
I returned to Claire wondering whether my Oxfam goal would become a reality and even whether this injury was going to limit my life in other ways. After a few more treatments Claire invited me to consider that the injury wasn’t physical … that it may be oriented in my emotions. She told me about a psychic healer who worked in a clinic she attended a couple of days a week and who had helped other clients with injuries that weren’t responding to treatment.
So one Saturday I trekked to the far south of Brisbane and met with Greg, the psychic healer. After a few questions, he asked me to lay on my stomach on a massage style table. I gently closed my eyes and allowed him to do his stuff. I think he may have lit a smudging stick although back then I’m not even sure I’d knew what one was. I don’t recall us talking very much although Greg let me know from the time that he was there and everything was fine. About 45 minutes later my consultation ended and either then, or soon after, my knee pain resolved.
So what happened on that day? Apparently, Greg was able to resolve an emotional block that had manifested physically. Now you could be thinking this was a coincidence but this isn’t the only time I’ve had such an experience.
Around two years ago I found myself with a sore wrist. I mean really sore. It ached and I was starting to wonder whether it would affect my work if it didn’t resolve. Over three weeks into the pain I had a phone conversation with a friend of mine.
At the time she was in the middle of a Gestalt therapy process as part of her post-graduate studies. She told me “It’s messy … my relationship is woven through it … it’s like a roller coaster.” I responded, “Oh my goodness Sarah I could never go there … my life is like a tightly stretched string … if I was to unravel how would I support my clients?” (At the time I was full-time career coaching.) My friend replied, “I am never going to stop growing Donna, I won’t stop until I have inner peace.”
As I pressed the end button on my phone, it hit me. I had stopped growing. It had been six months since I’d last done any personal growth. I reflected on some issues that were present in my life at the time and wondered who I could reach out to for support.
I decided on a friend who is a transformational kinesiologist. I called her up and booked an appointment. And guess what happened? My wrist stopped hurting. Not after the appointment but after the phone call. I was blown away by what happened. I may have even questioned it if it had happened to someone else.
Wanting desperately to understand what had happened, I reached out to Professor Lorimer Mosely a neuroscientist specialising in pain who I’d met on the speaking circuit. Here is his reply:
“Aha! Welcome to the fearful and wonderful complexity of pain. Pretty much the f and w complexity of the human. your experience is not odd or even that unusual. however, your insight and open mind about it is. There are many biological pathways that could link the cognitive stuff about recognising you are under some degree of threat, and pain (and even swelling). the best thing about this scenario if of course that you are back on the growth train.”
While I’m sure pain can be complex and that getting medical attention is important, I share this story because I know my body talks to me and in case you ever find yourself with a mystery ailment.
Have you ever had a similar experience?
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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.