American Pain Scale Needs Radical Revamping

Instead of Asking About Worst Pain, How About Recalling Comfort?

Just before 6 am the lights came on and in walked a young nurse wheeling a brightly-lit computer.

And without looking my way, she asked, “On a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the worse pain you’ve ever experienced, how do you feel?”

The second day she came in, I stopped her.

“Oh no,” I said.  We’re not starting the day this way again . . .”

The physiology of emotions

Fort Collins, Colorado counselor and hypnotist, Ed Rupert, says asking someone to revisit pain is asking her to re-experience it.

It’s re-traumatizing.

That’s because the brain cannot distinguish between present and remembered sensations.

You need only re-experience the feeling of appreciation or awe or love to know the truth in that statement.

Seminal research from the HeartMath Institute shows that evoking strong emotions impacts our physiology.

Below is the heart-rate variability of the same person being asked to recall feelings of frustration and then appreciation.

Frustration Versus Appreciation HRV Coherence

While the first graph brings to mind chaos, harmony and ease could be ascribed to the second.

And given a choice, most of us would choose to spend time in the latter, and with the tools of HeartMath it’s possible to do.

Redefining pain and comfort

With Ed’s guidance I prepared for recent surgery by describing to him the most comfortable I’ve ever felt.

I return to floating on my back.

In the safest comfort I’ve known, I am a child. My arms and legs are splayed, and I’m surrounded and supported by a cool, Maine lake. It’s also there as an adult when I’m buoyed by the salty water of the Aegean.

And simply recounting this to Ed transports me to well being.

Surgery came and went with surprisingly little discomfort.

And here’s what I now know for sure.

A transformation is needed in the language, culture and way we train people to perceive pain and how we put to good use life-affirming emotions such as comfort and ease.

Take action!

Join a HeartMath class to learn more about the ways our emotions impact our health. Write me at: EllenSynakowski@icloud.com

Contact Ed Rupert at Changes in Attitude Hypnosis.

Read about immigrant elder care in the U.S.

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Ellen is a native of northern Maine. She is a HeartMath® trainer and coach and can be reached at EllenSynakowski@icloud.com.

Peace as Learned and Teachable Skills: UN International Day of Peace September 21, 2018

 

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein Jordan reading Article 1 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (click photo to be taken to her reading)

Every year the United Nations presents the International Day of Peace.

And this year is especially notable because it marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

But the how to of peace can be elusive.

Over time, though, I’ve found three portals to equanimity.

And for me they overlap.

All three, it seems, know that as sentient beings we yearn for and move toward emotional and physical health.

And I choose to think peace fits in there, too.

Master of the Heart and HeartMath

Through personal, social and global coherence of HeartMath® I’ve learned to regulate my emotions.

All the while I am changing my heart rate variablility (HRV).

And HRV is a predictor of longevity, health and one’s emotional state.

Surprising to many,  coherence can be attained in the midst and moments of life’s challenges.

When I achieve coherence I am deeply content with my life.

The good news is that HeartMath tools can be taught to just about anyone at any age.

And with practice these skills lead to consistent, internal peace, regardless of external conditions.

I took my first HeartMath® class in 2009 from a master of the heart, David McArther.

And over time I learned to intentionally shift my physiology.

At will I can bring into balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of my nervous system.

That is peace.

The Connection Practice

“Before directing the lightening in the sky, we must first harness the storms in our own hearts.”

From The Connection Practice I know that world peace, family peace — any peace — is futile without internal peace.

It is in the motto.

“Before directing the lightening in the sky, we must first harness the storms in our own hearts.”

The Connection Practice uses elements of HeartMath and Nonviolent Communication.

And these gentle starting places inform the Practice’s life-affirming skills.

From Nonviolent Communication we offer respectful empathy to ourselves and others.

Through HeartMath we access insight.

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy

The third part of my profession and personal practice is biodynamic craniosacral therapy.

It is described as a “. . . a gentle, sensitive form of a hands-on approach to health.”

And it is truly magical.

After completing a session I am rested and deeply peaceful.

And that is true if I am receiving or facilitating.

As a practitioner I sense the rhythms within another’s nervous system — the breathe of life.

I set out to do nothing more.

In this way the practitioner is a mirror rather than a mechanic.

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The United Nations International Day of Peace is an idea; it’s a chance to pause.

And perhaps in that pause you’ll ask if now is the right time to experience more peace in your life.

Take Action!

•  Books I recommend:  David McArthur – Your Spiritual Heart; HeartMath – The HeartMath Solution; Nonviolent Communication – Nonviolent Communication; The Connection Practice – Completely Connected, by Rita Marie Johnson; Cherionna Menzam-Sills – The Breath of Life.

•   Learn about HeartMath research and professional training.

•  Find a HeartMath professional in your area.

•  Read about The Connection Practice.

•  Find a Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist in your area.

Previous Posts Related to Peace

•  Connecting:  When Needs are Met in a Simple Thank You

•  Connection Amid Political Chaos:  Impossible You Say?

•  Creating a Dignified Transition: A Daughter’s Gift to Her Mother

•  •  •


Ellen Synakowski (she/her/hers) lives in Laramie, Wyoming. She is a HeartMath Certified Trainer and Coach, and certified through HeartMath to administer the Stress and Well-being Assessment tool; A Connection Practice Trainer, a Trainer’s Trainer, and Coach; and a Registered Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist (RCST®). Her website is EllenSynakowski.com.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.  — C. West

Connecting: When needs are met in a simple thank you

connecting with self and othersConnecting is a strong need in my life.

Someone I’m close to called today.*  He said he’d been thinking about a comment I made  earlier this week when I  asked him if keeping part of his life secret was necessary.

“You really got me thinking,” he said. He wondered what life might be like if he didn’t focus as much on hiding from others part of who he is.

Then he thanked me.

With his simple words of gratitude my heart opened. Connecting was present that hadn’t been there before.

Receiving this from him felt so good that I decided to look through the lens of The Connection Practice to see what this conversation might be offering me on a deeper level.

With his simple words of gratitude my heart opened.

When he said, “Hey, thanks for saying what you did,” I gave myself empathy by identifying all the feelings that came up:

touched
thankful
peaceful
moved
encouraged
compassionate
trusting

From there I could see that many of my needs – basic human needs – were being met, perhaps especially:

my need for communication
contribution
connecting
love
to matter
to have my intentions understood
shared reality
progress

Connecting to needs

Pausing a moment my need for shared reality rose to the surface as most important. In the conversation we’d had, we were viewing the situation similarly, and proof of that was his thank you.

Then I turned my thoughts to him. Though he wasn’t there, I gave him empathy by guessing that during today’s talk he might have been feeling:

grateful
optimistic
safe
hopeful

And that these feelings might be reflecting some of his own met needs. Perhaps:

his need for understanding
connecting
shared reality
to be seen for who he is
progress
to belong

This past year has been confusing and a little disappointing for him, and keeping part of himself separate from others may have contributed to that. I imagined that his  greatest met needs today were for progress and to be seen for who he is.

Then I prepared for a heart-brain insight to learn more about the celebration I was feeling. I brought my attention to the heart for heart focus. I imagined I could breathe in and out of the heart for heart breathing. After several breaths  I brought into my heart a feeling of appreciation for something easy – heart appreciation.

I take my time when I get to this part because it feels so good. Once I start feeling appreciation, I stay with it and let it fill me. When I felt ready I asked an open-ended question, “What do I need to understand about this conversation and my met need for shared reality.”

Not much time passed before the insight came. In addition to all that I had identified, there was another met need tucked in that short conversation, and it was a big one – intimacy .

That was exactly what I needed to understand!  In this world where disconnection often prevails, today’s phone call was a wondrous moment of intimacy between two human beings. I marveled at how simple the gift of a “thank you” can be to both offer and receive.

Connecting to insight

To complete the process I thought how I would act on this insight.

Writing this out has already helped deepen the experience. I better understand the compassion I have for my friend and his willingness to be vulnerable with me and in his own life. I’ll also keep celebrating the intimacy and connecting that came so unexpectedly with a simple thank you.

The process now feels complete.

Note to those of you wondering why it’s good to do this practice daily: Writing this was quick and easy and reminded me of the value of working with issues that are fully alive, like connecting.

*To retain privacy I’m leaving my friend’s name out of this story.
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connecting through connection practice    

Related posts and resources

•  Wyoming Social Justice in Action: What exactly does look like in public?

•  The Connection Practice – training offered by the Rasur Foundation International

•  Connect with the Center for Nonviolent Communication

Ellen Synakowski, MA, RCST, is a certified Connections Practice Trainer, Coach and Presenter; a HeartMath coach, and a registered biodynamic craniosacral therapist.