Awake In the face of suffering

3 years ago I had a car accident that changed my life forever. It was a simple whiplash injury that triggered Central Pain Syndrome. A chronic nerve pain condition that affects my head, face, lower spine and back.

I experience phantom pain with a dysfunctional central nervous system passing on faulty information to my brain. Which over reacts with burning, stabbing pain in my lower back and electric shock pains in my head. It’s a life long condition with no cure and the only real relief comes from anti-convulsant medications and muscles relaxants.

It affects everything from my work life to my marriage. I can now only work part time at a desk job. I had to give up my trade as a welder as it was too physical. And with cognitive and memory problems as a side effect of the pain I was making mistakes on the job.

My wife has also had to adjust to a husband who went from being physically strong and able to financially support us, to a man who struggles to function from day to day. As I write this I am experiencing a spinal flare up that has me off work and unable to stay on my feet. It’s debilitating on every level. I am now classed as disabled.

Pain is a reality of my life now

The main problem in all of this has been the mental struggle. The negativity and pressure I have felt from being unable to financially support my family as I once did. It has been draining and difficult to deal with. The one saving grace has been meditation. As a recovered alcoholic I meditated daily before the accident. It was a practice that allowed me to build resilience to stress.

The biggest issue with chronic pain, as I discovered, is mental health. I figured out early that I could do little about the pain, but I did need to overcome the resentment and trauma that came along with it. I experienced negative thinking and even suicide ideation as a direct result of living in pain. It was the meditation that saved me from my thinking.

I continued to meditate daily no matter how much I was suffering. And From continued conscious awareness I was able to step away from thinking and deal with life from a neutral perspective. Meditation saved me from myself. It gave me all I needed to manage each day. I still experience negativity but the difference is that it doesn’t drag me down as it once did. I still suffer from time to time but I never stay down for long.

If you are suffering mentally from anything in your life, from relationship troubles to chronic pain illness I can recommend non contemplative meditation. This is so simple it needs to be experienced to be believed. Just 15 minutes twice a day is enough for this powerful awakening exercise to become affective in your life – no matter what your troubles. It is completely free and can be practiced anywhere, anytime you have a quiet moment. I practice it at least 4 times a day and it helps me stay focused on life in real time, as life unfolds.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Rebalanced

It’s been a few weeks since I was hospitalised with a central pain syndrome flare up. I usually bounce back pretty quickly in the aftermath but this flare up lingered to the point it was affecting my mental health.

Pain causes me to go in on myself. When it’s affected round the clock it’s punishing. As much as I try to just get on with life it makes everything an uphill struggle. Self pity and depression begin to wrap around me and I lose focus on the things that matter. Like my marriage and parenting my daughters.

Triplets require our full attention, and when I’m down I can let things slide like disciplining them when they are playing up. It can cause ripples in my marriage because I am not giving my full attention. Because of my responsibilities I cannot stay down for long. I need to be present in my families lives.

I have learned that my problem with pain is always the same. Resentment is the number one offender. When I am lost in frustration and fear I  shut myself off from things that are important to me. I become lost in negative thinking and negative emotions and in turn I get overwhelmed. I detach myself from my surroundings and cannot see the wood from the trees. It’s a dark place to be in.

As always, the solution to my mental suffering is to reconnect to the light. To become conscious again and break free from the resentment trap I find myself in when the pain is raging. Meditation is, and has always been the path back to strong mental health. But first I have to be willing to let go of the anger that’s plaguing me.

I have to let go of resentment and replace fear with faith. This only happens in the stillness of meditation. Light and dark cannot exist in the same space. I am either filled with one or the other so my commitment to meditation and practicing conscious awareness has to be a working part of my life. I need to be doing more than just going through the motions each day.

Non contemplative meditation is a powerful awakening exercise. It was life changing before chronic pain and is still a solid anchor when it comes to dealing with emotional disturbances.

I will leave the link here if you are interested in looking into it. It’s completely free and is a very personal affair. It has dragged me out of the water many a time, and still does.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

A change in attitude

I was angry, frustrated and exhausted from dealing with undiagnosed CPS (I still am during a flare up). I thought I was going crazy. No one could comprehend the pain I was experiencing. It was bitter sweet getting a diagnosis a year on from the accident.

There was relief with a diagnosis, but I was also knocked down with the reality of of a lifetime of chronic nerve pain. It was a recipe for depression and anxiety. How the hell was I supposed to manage?

For a start I needed to get as much information on treatments and management as I could find. A diagnosis also got me a place on the pain clinic course. A seven week commitment to group sessions. It was good to meet others face to face who were suffering under the lash of chronic pain.

I regularly felt defeated by it. I was overwhelmed with negativity as I battled through the days. Hoping for relief and a break from high pain levels. Stress was the main factor in my flare ups. The more negative I became the more I suffered. I was hard to live with during those first couple of years.

I have overcome a lot during my lifetime. From Borderline Personality Disorder to chronic alcoholism. Surely if I had learned to overcome the serious internal conflicts that caused me so many mental health problems I could overcome the negativity of chronic pain. In short – I had no choice. The pain was a permanent fixture. And my attitude needed to change towards my suffering.

Non contemplative meditation was the first step in a change of attitude. By minimising stress, I would in effect lower the pain levels. I had to let go of the anger and frustration I felt towards myself. I needed to look at my pain from a conscious perspective. Meditation keeps me in the moment, rather than in fear around the future or resentment at the past. My anger had to go. It was destroying me and my marriage.

The more I awoke the more clarity I had. I was able to see the destructive nature that chronic pain has on the mind. It was draining me of any positivity I had and was crushing my spirit. As I slowly became free of my anger my attitude Began to shift. I became more patient and tolerant of my situation. There was more of an interest in solutions rather than being stuck on a roundabout of negativity.

I started to take care of myself even when I didn’t feel like it. Little thing’s like shaving and changing my clothes regularly helped me feel better about myself. I also changed my diet and got back to work, even if only part time. It was a sense of normality that I needed back in my life. I got back to taking care of my family and being more altruistic. I became less involved with my pain and suffering and got gently back into the stream of life.

My life now isn’t perfect. There are still day’s I struggle and take a step backwards. But I know now that I can live beside the monster with a positive attitude directed at life and the thing’s I can do to help myself. With a gentle and kind spirit.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Chronic pain – anger & resentment

With CPS it became apparent that there was much more than just the pain to deal with. At the pain clinic we discussed what they called secondary pain. The fear and resentment that we all suffer from as a result of living with CPS.

I experienced emotional and physical trauma after developing CPS. My world was tipped upside down as I struggled from day to day with the mental pressure of dealing with chronic nerve pain. I was overwhelmed. And the harder I fought the worse the pain got, which raised my stress levels which ramped up my pain. I was on a vicious roundabout.

As a recovered alcoholic I have deep understanding of the cause of my mental suffering. In order to recover from alcoholism I had to give up anger and master resentment. Trauma had got the better of me and as a result I sought relief from my internal conflicts. For me, alcohol became my master. In the end I had to find a way to deal with my past and face stress without becoming overwhelmed.

So why is that relevant? Fast forward five years and from developing Central Pain Syndrome I was rocketed back into emotional and physical suffering. Most of us experience resentment with chronic pain conditions. It’s easy to slip into anger at the injustice of living with chronic pain.

I was angry at the kid who was was on his phone whilst driving and smashed into my car. I was angry at the suspicion I felt from everyone with an invisible illness. I was aggravated at my wife for not accepting my pain condition. I was frustrated at the nine month wait to see a neurologist. In short I was full of anger and resentment and the only person who was really suffering from my resentments was me.


It was a phone call to the man who showed me how to improve my life through meditation that triggered a change in my attitude.

My problem was that I was wilfully struggling with the pain. I was trying to beat it and failing to do so. The harder I pushed myself the worse the flare ups. No one can safely live with anger. It consumes everything worthwhile. And for a CPS sufferer it only serves to do more damage.

In order to make a change to my situation I needed to let go of anger. No matter who it was directed at -it was still anger/resentment. It was eating me alive. I had to stop resting my need to be understood on other people. I was looking for approval and resenting when I didn’t get it.

I came to see how much damage resentment was causing me. the antidote to anger is forgiveness, and I had to learn to be kinder to myself. I had fallen into the resentment trap and knew the only way out was to practice outgoing love.

I no longer care what others think of me, that is their business. My main focus now is dealing with stress and managing my pain levels. I do this through a very unique meditation exercise. The one that has allowed me to recover from resentment in the past. The more I consciously live in the present moment the easier it is to manage life.

I have learned to give up the wilful struggle of my body and mind. I now live beside the monster without fear or judgment of myself and others. It’s a tough path to be given but with the principles of love, patience and tolerance at the centre of my life I can move forward with a spirit of love despite the pain. It no longer defines me and anger no longer rules me. I have found peace in the storm.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

The Moment

How many of us can say that we really live in the moment? With such busy lives it seems such an elusive concept.

Even when relaxing our minds don’t seem to quiet down. A bombardment of thoughts steal away the here and now, leaving us in the past or worrying about the future.

Stress energy collects whilst we are asleep in the whirlpool of thoughts

We live in stressful times. Pandemics, work concerns, financial and family problems keep us lost in overthinking and for the most – negativity. We find ways to distract ourselves with thing’s like exersise, music, books and Netflix. But these brief moments of escape don’t solve the worry problem. Even of the hundreds of meditation exercises on you tube, most are mere distraction techniques, pulling us away further from the moment.

So why is it so Important to live in the moment? Surely it’s more beneficial to deal with life as it unfolds. A life of stress, driven by overthinking will only lead to poor health and eventually more serious physical ailments and heart conditions. Negative emotions drain us of energy and life.

Negative emotions cause outward ripples

The moment is not so difficult to find. First it takes a commitment to stillness, meditating without contemplation. Simply stepping back observing the thought’s and chatter of the mind that would usually drag us in. By doing this we are cutting ties with the emotions that tempt us to react.

Once we have meditated this way for a short time it becomes easier to stay in an awakened state, free from the negative ties to emotion. Worry and fear fall away without effort, anxiety no longer plagues us because we are not getting caught up in the whirlpool of overthinking as we once did.

Living in the present moment also brings a protection. When we meditate this special way we begin to live with grace, becoming less and less affected by other’s emotional responses. We find a real clarity as a natural God given intuition replaces the ever doubtful thinking of the ego. We become placed in a position of neutrality to the world. Safe, protected and free to deal with life consciously.

The moment is a truly miraculous place. One, that once experienced opens the door to a new plane of existence. We become connected and present in the world in real time, free from the bondage of the ego and it’s negative existence. We become inspired and brought back to life. Awake, aware and ready for anything that life throws at us.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Meditation vs The Monster

Living along side CPS takes skills and strategies. Sometimes distraction as a temporary tool can be helpful in a flare up. Sometimes tweaking meds help; we all have different ways to deal with the pain.

I would say the first few of years with CPS has been the hardest. I have lost work, my mind at times and have grieved for the man I was before chronic pain became a part of my life. The forced changes have driven me to deppresion and anxiety about the future. But on the plus side I have emerged out of the darkness stronger and wiser.

We all need tools in our box to deal with the mental pressure. I have avoided medications to treat my moods and anxiety. Personally I do not find them useful in the long run. They only mask the problem which can be narrowed down to one simple cause – resentment.

For me I need to consciously deal with my mental state. My wellbeing rests on my ability to face stress and negative thinking without being affected. I have enough to deal with having chronic nerve pain, so how I mentally live beside the monster matters. To myself and my family.

Not everyone is open to meditation and real meditation can be difficult. It isn’t always easy to become still and observe thoughts. As we do we become acutely aware of just how negative our thinking can be. It’s usually at this point the practitioner bails on it. But for those who are willing to sit still through a little discomfort and stick at it; they discover the keys to the kingdom.

There is freedom from the fire

Meditation pulled me out of deppresion. As I separated from the negativity and fear I was harbouring I Began to see with clarity the real problem with CPS. The frustration and anger at my condition was dragging me into an emotional whirlpool of overthinking and overreacting to the pain, the stress of which was turning up the volume of my suffering.

The more negative I became the higher my pain levels went. The key to living with the monster was to stay mentally sharp. To become an observer rather than getting into futile struggles with my situation.

I can’t do much about my painbut I can do something about my attitude towards it.

Non contemplative meditation is one way to overcome overthinking and negativity. By separating from thoughts and becoming an observer of what passes through the mind, we are less inclined to get dragged into that negativity. In a place of conscious awareness we have a protection against it. There is a real freedom that comes with this very special state of consciousness. It is a place where the pain turns down and we can find a new way to manage it.

If you are in a constant battle with your mind and your pain and need the roundabout to stop. Try this free meditation exersise. If you are willing to commit to it you will be in better position to mentally manage the monster, because between the monster and meditation – meditation wins, every time.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Shock management

I’ve been on a good run of low pain day’s up until a couple of weeks ago when I shaved my head and triggered my neuralgia pain. Neuralgia is also known as the ‘suicide disease’. It’s intense pain and just another symptom of my central pain syndrome.

Over the last few year’s I have tried everything from hot and cold compresses to cutting my head to see if it would release some of the pain. Not a smart move but it gives you an idea of the seriousness of the flare ups.

It’s taken me this long to finally accept that there is nothing I can do about my neuropathic pain. Other than adjust my medications I have to live day to day with varying degrees of facial and head pain.

It’s not an ideal situation because I have also deal with work and home-life. I’ve chosen to suffer in silence because I have no choice but to get on with life. My wife doesn’t need to know I’m in pain every 10 minutes so I’ve learned to hide it well. Complaining doesn’t help either of us.

The main problem I’ve experienced in the past is that I got angry at my situation. Frustration at my health condition has just caused me further stress. It’s so easy to fall into self pity. ‘Why me’ is a prominent thought I need to just observe and not get pulled in to. I suffered a period of deep deppresion last year and it’s a dark place I don’t want to go back to. Especially with my history of serious mental illness.

I have found the most simple way to cope with my health problems is to manage my mental health, first and foremost. Overthinking is a real problem as you could probably imagine. Getting lost in negative thoughts is easily done. So as a defence against intrusive thinking and the bombardment of negativity my mind is subject to I practice a simple meditation.

Noticing inner light through meditation brings a protection against negativity

Every morning on awakening I sit still and meditate for around 15 minutes. By doing this I am pulling back from the stream of thought, separating from it so I can just observe what passes through my mind. In a place of conscious awareness, good and bad thoughts loose their power to pull me in. Leaving me in a place of neutrality, safe and protected from them.

When I am conscious this way I am less inclined to react to any stressful events that may happen throughout the day. I am not burning up energy as I would have done in overthinking. There is a real freedom from negativity that comes from the stillness of non contemplative meditation.

I know, I plug this meditation a lot. But for good reason. Everyone has the ability to overcome overthinking and recover from deppresion and anxiety through this simple, free exersise.

Maybe it could help you.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Overcoming the negativity of chronic pain

Over the last few years I have slowly adapted to chronic pain levels that most people will never experience. It has changed my life and altered the way my brain operates. I have also had a diagnosis of a functional cognitive disorder as a result of living with constant pain.

I was once mentally sharp, medication free and physically fit. I had no problems working a physical job or doing everyday things like taking the triplets for a walk in their pushchair. Cooking and doing odd jobs around the house.

It’s hard to comprehend living in pain. On the outside I look quite normal apart from the hobble in my walk. I have had to adjust my life to balance with the monster. I have had to pull back from most of what I once did. Including work and in my home life.

Taming the fire is possible

My memory has improved over the last 6 months which is a real positive considering the pain is partly centred in my head. Much of this is down to regaining my mental state which took a dive bomb as I struggled in the beginning to adjust. It took a couple of years before I overcame the resentment and fear surrounding my condition.

Through non contemplative meditation I was able to get free from the anger and frustration I felt towards myself. Central pain syndrome also affected my relationship with Stacey. It brought fierce resentment on both sides that if held on to would have damaged our marriage.

Stress is a killer

The key part of my recovery has been to stay out of negative thinking. And my head has been battered by it through all the stress and anxiety. And nothing ramps up pain more than stress.

There is a way to pull back from the stream of thought and allow the practitioner to be able to observe what passes through the mind and remain unaffected. Non contemplative meditation is a way to do this. It’s my experience that without the barrage of negative thinking my pain has been much easier to manage.

I pass this on as it was once passed on to me. If overthinking and negativity are plaguing your life, this is a free and simple solution.

Non-Contemplative Meditation™

Trauma and chronic pain

There is a link between emotional trauma and chronic pain. It’s not just physical damage that can create pain conditions.

It is why making peace with the past is so important if we are going to successfully manage our pain. And as importantly we must find a way to deal with stress in the present moment. We must find a way to forgive.

It was when I began working with the pain clinic and began to talk about my life that I was first made aware of the link between trauma and pain. Stress being the one of the main triggers to ramped up pain levels. I have a history of traumatic events from an abusive childhood, homelessness, alcoholism and bdp to other serious mental health disorders.

It all had an effect on me even though I was unaware of what it was doing to my central nervous system. Stress also caused me digestion problems and stomach ulcers. It caused my hair to fall out when I was 16. Alopecia is common in people who are highly anxious. It is a signal that something is going on under the surface that needs addressing.

Then after getting sober at 36 I had a period of good health. I had discovered a way to deal with stress in the present moment. I met and married Stacey. Became a father to Frankie and went on to have triplets which was a traumatic experience in itself. No joke, having triplets was a test of patience and tolerance. And in all that time there was a history I rarely discussed.

It was only when I got hit in my car and nerve pain became permanent that I came to realise that I had to deal with my past and make a beginning on unravelling my past traumas. Event’s that were adding to my current pain levels. In short I had to make peace with my past.

Over the last few years I have worked with the pain clinic in dealing with the mental strain of chronic pain. I had sessions with their clinical psychologist and from those appointments I have gone on to get counselling to finally discuss and deal with my childhood abuse.

Even though I have no resentment towards my past it still resonates in my mind and can cause fear. It is still a factor in my stress levels and still causes me problems in personal relationships. So seeking help was vital. It is the last area of my life I need to deal with.

The past affects the present

Pain changes the way the brain functions as does stress and anxiety. I can’t do anything to fix central pain syndrome but I can do as much as I can to deal with stress. I learned early on that resentment and fear ramp up my pain levels. Emotions that are prevalent and not easy to deal with while suffering from chronic pain.

I have to live a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise help with chronic pain. The healthier I am the easier it is to manage my pain levels. And I’ve realized that the more I face and overcome trauma the better position I am in to face life now.

Nothing has helped me more than non contemplative meditation. It is a way to practice observing overthinking and negative emotions without being dragged into the whirlpool of thoughts. It is a free exersise unlike anything out there. I will leave the link at the bottom of this post.

If you are suffering from chronic pain and have a history of traumatic events that may be affecting your pain now I urge you to seek help. Find the courage to face your past and in forgiveness you will find peace. And living with chronic pain will become that little bit easier.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

One step closer

In March last year you may remember that I had a neuropsychological assessment due to some cognitive problems I was experiencing. Yesterday – almost a year later, I had my follow up appointment.

Getting answers has been a difficult process of elimination. From the pain side of it a diagnosis of central pain syndrome in 2019 gave a label I could learn to understand. I finally began to get to grips with a permanent condition. One only I can manage.

Since the pain began permanently after a car accident in 2018 I have also suffered mentally. Memory loss, problems finding words and fainting/dizziness spells became a regular occurrence. I have also experienced hallucinations which have been a bit unnerving at times.

The neurologist I spoke without yesterday helped clear up some concerns and shone a light on what may be going on with me. The main point was that she was happy to rule out MS. It has not been easy to mentally deal with the possibility of such a debilitating illness. So to be cleared of it was a big relief.

It would seem that a life of trauma and previous alcoholism may have damaged my central nervous system. I had minor random attacks of nerve pain that I first noticed after I quit drinking 7 years ago. The pain only becoming permanent after the accident.

Central pain syndrome has changed my life. It has drained me into deppresion at times and turned my world upside down. The neurologist has put my cognitive problems down to dealing with chronic pain. Like a side effect. She explained that pain changes the way a brain functions. Hence her diagnosis of a functional cognitive disorder.

She is requesting that I get a nerve study done. This may show exactly what is happening to my nervous system, it’s a step closer to getting clarity on my rare condition.

One thing I have learned from all I have been through is that life goes on no matter what Is happening. That I am still a husband and father. That my relationships under my roof come first and that I cannot let my illness dictate my life. There are times I have struggled with this principle but I keep moving forward. Trudging the road ahead of me.

It takes grit, determination and faith to deal with chronic pain and the challenges it brings. Living with the monster isn’t easy but with the right attitude and clearer understanding I have a chance at a better life.