Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment without judgment or intention to change anything. Simply being the observer of our experience. Thus, in the “being mode” there is no expectation to achieve a particular goal because the focus is on accepting what is going on in the moment and not fighting to change it. In fact, with pain, the more we fight it, the more it fights back. When we practice observing and accepting what is – in this moment only – it becomes less overwhelming. We step behind the waterfall. In the context of pain, when we become aware of the signals in our body we often also think about how long we have had this pain and worry about how much longer we will have this pain.
This is a lot more overwhelming and “threatening” to the system compared to simply observing that we are experiencing pain in this moment alone.
This pause allows the signals to be processed differently in the brain and helps stop the unnecessary racing thoughts, or rumination, that can often lead to unhealthy coping skills. This new approach to living does not come easily because it is unfamiliar to what we are used to. When we practice something unfamiliar, our error-detection signal is triggered, which can lead us to questioning new or different coping skills as being helpful or not. The mind’s error-detection signal is there to let you know when you are doing something unfamiliar. There is no judgment in this process. It is not saying something is “right” or “wrong”, but rather “familiar” or “unfamiliar”. For example, did you ever try to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand? If you try this, your mind will start to talk to you asking you, “why are you doing what you are doing? This is silly! Go back to doing what you’re used to doing!” That is your error-detection system in your brain!
You may experience this in the beginning process of learning and practicing mindfulness because the “being” mode is unfamiliar. Don’t worry about this happening. In fact, expect it to happen! Know
that this will dissipate with practice. The more you practice something, the more familiar it becomes. The more familiar it becomes, the less your error-detection signal will speak up.
Child's pose is a great position of relaxation to cue into the pelvic floor. From this position, imagine your sits bones expanding as you take a breath in. You should feel your belly expand and your pelvic floor muscles expand with this breath in, then returning to the start position (coming back into your body) as you breathe out. Be sure to simply allow for expansion of the muscles, don't try to bear down as when trying to have a bowel movement.
Human Seminal Plasma Protein Allergy (SPPA) is a rare but real immune response to semen. Women with this allergy will notice symptoms ranging from vaginal area inflammation, itching, and/or pain to typical allergic reactions that affect other parts of the body. It is hard to know how many women may be living with SSPA because of underreporting due to its sensitive nature. Consider this diagnosis if you experience persistent vaginal inflammation, itching, and/or pain or typical allergic reactions in other areas up to 8 hours after intercourse but these symptoms do not occur when using a condom. The immune response of this allergy is not clearly understood but various treatments have been useful for some, including creams and desensitization therapies.
If you have been told your pain is due to this allergy but you continue to experience symptoms of pain, itching, burning, cramping despite being treated then insist on further evaluation for other primary reasons for your pain. These could include bowel, bladder, nerve, musculoskeletal, and myofascial related reasons for chronic pain and discomfort ‘down there’.
Stephanie Yeager: Passionate about spreading the word of hope and healing for those like her, influencing a paradigm shift in the medical community toward greater understanding of chronic pelvic pain disorders, and prevention initiatives that may protect young women before onset can occur.