Chronic Neck and Shoulder Pain
If you’re someone who has chronic neck and shoulder pain or tightness, you may be holding onto more than just bad posture, past injury or degenerative disease. The signals being sent could be a result of emotional or energetic discomfort as much as physical distress.
Many of us hold onto emotional stress in the area of our shoulder/neck. We carry the weight of the world and it seems that weight gets heavier and heavier every day.
There’s family life, work life, and political and environmental climates to take into account. Ancestral information lodged in our DNA and self-talk we subject ourselves to can also be contributors. That, and the self-talk we subject ourselves to can all contribute.
Qigong for Chronic Pain
There are several reasons pain presents itself, and a variety of suggestions on how to resolve or deal with it. In Qigong, pain is understood to correlate with Qi blockages. Working on Qi channels in the area that needs support can help Qi flow more freely, reducing discomfort. So often when there’s pain or illness we feel as if we’ve lost control over our body. With Qigong, we’re giving our body cues on how to relax and open to healing.
Trust and Self-healing Abilities
“Having full trust in your body's intelligence and ability to heal itself is the key to unleashing your self healing power. After many years of exploration, I have come to realize that the best healing technique is trusting our bodies and our own innate abilities to heal. If Qigong practice is to work well, trust is the key. In fact, I call this trust the highest form of Qigong practice.” Yuan Tze
When I read this quote from Yuan Tze, I felt a surge of courage well up in my core, like I was being reminded of a superpower that had been lying dormant. With this encouragement I began to shift my awareness away from pain and towards curiosity, beginning to trust that my body could respond differently than it was used to. As I became more aware of where the tension in my shoulders and neck was stemming from, I began playing with Qigong movements as moving meditations (clearing and transforming stress by increasing Qi flow) and, as a result, began to feel more energy and ease, both physically and mentally.
The Mindset and Chronic Pain
By focusing on being at ease and reinforcing the qualities of calm and light instead of unpleasant sensations, we are working on our state of mind. Cultivating qualities like trust, patience, gratitude, and contentment also helps us move towards an open state rather than focusing on the damage or problems in our bodies.
When I experience tension in my shoulders and neck, I usually feel my whole body contracting in on itself. If our bodies are constricted because of some type of trauma, we lose energy and Qi, which we need to heal. I notice that the more I’m aware of what’s happening in my body and consciousness, the sooner I can begin focusing on what’s needed for change – moving into the realm of opening and connecting my body, mind, and heart. But I need to look at what’s going on:
- Do I need to change the way I’m sitting or standing?
- Am I reactivating an injury by not looking after it?
- Do I feel too much responsibility in my life? Family, career, relationship? What am I not dealing with?
- Am I holding on to a thought/belief/behavior so tightly that I just can’t let go, and it’s restricting my mobility or causing me physical discomfort?
- How do I feel about myself? Am I giving myself the same love and attention I give others?
Yuan Qigong for Pain Relief
Physical Qigong practices like Tian Yuan (Gathering Qi) can be profoundly helpful in releasing stress and relaxing the body. The first segment of the practice, “Gathering Qi from Liu Hu” (Gathering Qi from 6 directions) is a wonderful way to use visualization and ease physical suffering, even if you have limited flexibility. Seeing the joints as expansive, opening and releasing pressure, as well as connecting with Qi, gives feedback to the brain that all is well and moving naturally.
In the first segment of Ren Yuan (Moving Qi) the section ‘Turning the Head” also helps when I’m feeling tightness in my shoulders and neck. With each circle, I imagine the Qi in my neck making a big spiral. The tension gradually moves further and further out with every rotation as healthy Qi moves inward to fill the space being emptied.
“Raise the Head and Contract the Body” from second segment of Ren Yuan (Moving Qi) is another section that really loosens up the feeling of contraction. Maintaining tension while drawing the shoulder blades in, the chin and head back and the tailbone up, and then feeling it release with a gentle explosion is like the relief I feel by holding my breath as long as possible and then letting go of what I’m clinging to as I exhale.
Clearing Unhealthy Information
When the body is in pain, it’s giving us an opportunity, or message to look at patterns that may be the root of the pain. As you do your emotional digging, sending heart qualities to the place of discomfort is also a move in the right direction towards healing. Other practices that can be restorative are embodying the 6 Verses or building a ‘healing’ specific’ Qifield to ease discomfort.
The practice of Pulling Qi works directly on an area that needs a bit of information clearing and is another nurturing therapy. With all of these practices, it’s important to be as focused as possible, in a joyful way, but have no expectations. Do your very best from the best state you can be in to create the future.
The main thing is to cultivate awareness. Without awareness, there will never be change…