What’s the real cause of your neck pain? I had to ask myself this question over the holidays as I developed excruciating neck pain that kept me in bed for four days.
The body is ALWAYS sending us messages; our job is to learn to decode it.
Physically, the neck is a delicate area consisting of many small muscles, bones, joints and glands. It is easy for one of them to get irritated from any wrong movement or sleeping in a weird position. It is responsible for supporting and connecting the body and head/mind. This You Tube video shows you just how complex the neck is.
Energetically, many meridians run through the neck. In fact, all of the Yang meridians meet in the head. Makes sense, since Yang energy flows upward and is more concerned with ideation and thinking.
When our neck is stuck in one position, we see it as a blockage of Qi (pronounced chi – it meas energy) in one of the meridians that flows through the neck. But perhaps more important is the unique perspective on how Acupuncture can help neck pain. Through the Chinese Medicine lens we also look at where a person might be stuck in their outlook on a particular matter. This concept arises from the eyes – which of course are responsible for vision – being located on the head. When the head is locked in a certain orientation, so is our view on life, an area of our life or a particular issue.
Getting stuck in our vision or outlook on a situation can lead to dogmatism, anger, frustration and ultimately resentment of a situation or person which in turn leads to pain. It manifests as pain on a physical level and this is typically what we become aware of, but it is really a manifestation of pain on an emotional level.
Let me give you my real life example on what helped my own neck pain.
About 6 months ago my ex boyfriend and I broke up. A break-up can be traumatic in itself. We had been together for 4.5 years and had known each other since we were teenagers. Unfortunately, there was a lot of drama and hurt in the end that ultimately caused the final break. Within a few months I was able to see that the break up was inevitable and that it was actually the best outcome for my own well being, and I’m sure for his as well. It was relieving to finally know that I was going to be ok without him and to really start believing that something better was on the other side of all of this.
However, I remained stuck, to a certain degree, on how everything had ended. I played out scenarios and stories in my head daily and I certainly did not wish him well. Now I can see that for MONTHS I continued to live into the trauma of those last few days with him. I was so fixated on the relief that not being with him brought to me, that I didn’t bother to complete the whole cycle of loss and really, truly move on.
Until a week before Christmas.
Half way through my workday on Monday my neck started to hurt. I didn’t think to much of it, perhaps I had just slept on it weird the night before. But it continued to get worse into the night and by Tuesday morning I was so locked up that I couldn’t move in ANY DIRECTION, all I could do was keep my head looking forward. It was so painful that I almost threw up while standing on multiple occasions. I had to cancel my very busy day – only the second time I’ve had to do this in 6 years – and head home to bed. I was bedridden for 4 days and broke into tears twice from the level of pain I was experiencing. Finally, after a couple of days I started to ask myself “I wonder if there is something else going on here?” I started to ponder how an Acupuncturist might approach and help neck pain from an emotional perspective and I immediately knew that this was about forgiveness for my ex. It was time to really let him go.
My experience is that in order to let someone go and to really move one you have to find some level of compassion for them; you have to start to humanize them again. I had no flipping clue how I was going to do this. I was really happy not liking him and not wishing the best for him. Or so I thought. My body had a different opinion apparently.
It felt like it took everything I had to let go of my position that he was a loser and how could he have hurt me the way he did and I hope he suffers for the pain he has caused. I realized that the only way I was going to humanize this A-hole again was going to be to allow myself to remember and feel the tender feelings I had once felt for him. At this point I was able to move a bit better – special thanks to acupuncture, chiropractic and robaxacet – enough anyway to sit at my shredder and go through the boxes of memorabilia I had been holding onto.
I couldn’t believe how it felt to go through all of that stuff and say goodbye to it. I went through pictures of the first weeks and months we were together. Pictures that held so much feeling that it was as if it happened yesterday. I loved this person so deeply and with all of my heart at one point. At one point I all I wanted was good things to happen for him, at one point I couldn’t imagine being upset or angry at him. It was sad. Sad that all the hope and inspiration I had once felt with him and for him were just gone. Sad that for so long now I had kept a barrier around my heart so that I couldn’t feel those tender feelings.
As I went through all the pictures and the love letters and the pieces of paper that reminded me of our time together I fell in love with that human again. I connected to the heart of the matter and at the end of the day I genuinely want the best for him. I let go of the trauma, I let go of the resentment and on that snowy afternoon, slightly high on robaxacet, I forgave him.
I have a lot of respect for anger after all of that. Once I was able to step back and see the bigger picture, I saw how the anger I experienced was a great way to establish boundaries. The relationship didn’t work and I needed to leave it. The anger from the breakup fueled my drive to move on and kept me protected from the tender feelings, that had I have been in touch with from the beginning, would have kept me going back and holding onto something that needed to die.
The body is incredible and is supporting us 100% of the time. Period. Thanks to the acupuncture and chiropractic as well as the work I’ve just described, I was moving with about 75% more mobility and almost no pain within 24 hours.
At this point you might be thinking that this doesn’t apply to you. You may be telling yourself “I’m good, I’m not holding onto any negative feelings.” And you may find yourself saying “my neck injury was different, I hurt it at work, or going to get groceries or at the gym.” I strongly encourage you to be open to the possibility that the same idea applies. Any stress or injury incurred by the body hits in the areas that are already vulnerable. If you have been harboring resentment, I invite you to consider that it is weakening some aspect of your body, even if you aren’t feeling the physical symptoms yet. I invite you to consider how this perspective and acupuncture can help your neck pain.
I whole-heartedly believe that this is what makes the difference for people who make a complete recovery from any sort of acute or chronic issue; unearthing the emotional component that is leading to the physical pain. If you’ve been dealing with any sort of issue, I suggest that you to ask your body what it is communicating. And I further propose that you entertain the idea that once the body has reached a state of physical pain, it’s your body and your being telling you, it’s time to let go of what you’ve been holding onto.
If you are interested in reading more about how all aspects of your body are connected to your emotional state check out the book Metaphysical Anatomy from one of my favorite metaphysical experts Evette Rose.
With love from Kelowna, BC