Biofeedback: mind over matter   Our bodies are very complex machines. We function at different levels: voluntary, and involuntary. Voluntary functions are actions and movements that we control. We can decide to climb up stairs, turn our head to the side, or walk in any direction. Involuntary functions are controlled by your involuntary nervous system and are difficult to control, such as your heart beating, your blood pressure rising, or your body regulating its temperature. Biofeedback therapy puts the focus on your involuntary body functions, and can help with conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure and headaches. Biofeedback therapy is not meant to replace prescribed medications. You should always consult with your primary care physician before starting a new treatment. Biofeedback therapy uses a variety of sensors and electrodes that collect the information on your heart rate, brain waves, rate of breathing, skin temperature and muscle tension. This information is then translated into sound, images or lighting on a monitor for you to see. These involuntary functions can undergo dramatic changes when your body is under stress or in pain. By viewing and understanding the changes that are happening you are better able to control them. For example, when you can see that your heart rate is becoming rapid due to stress, you are better able to combat these physical changes with exercises such as slow deep breaths, imagery or even meditation practices. A biofeedback therapist would help you to practice these exercises. The idea behind biofeedback is that you can change how your body responds to physical or mental stimuli through various techniques along with a better understanding of how the human body works. While biofeedback is not a cure, with practice it can aid in an overall better quality of life.

Chronic Pain


Millions of people across the globe swear by meditation practice for symptoms such as chronic pain, stress, anxiety and depression. Meditation practice has been used throughout history in many countries by young and old alike.

Meditation for pain control can be beneficial in easing the symptoms of chronic pain by focusing and quieting the mind. It is important to note that some pains will always be present. Meditation does not cure the cause of the pain, but rather it is used as a coping mechanism. The idea is to change the perception of pain.

Meditation is a general term to describe a mind–body practice. This practice uses focus, concentration, relaxation and physical awareness. When you meditate, you can also use imagery, deep breathing, chanting and soothing sounds.

The goal with meditation for pain control is that through focus and awareness that spans beyond just your physical body, you are able to come to terms with the pain. Through meditation, one can come to the realization that the enjoyment in life can be greater than the pain itself.

Pain may always be a part of life. However, meditation teaches that while pain will affect your physical body, you control how that pain will affect your life.

Chronic PainMind Body

There are numerous studies that have documented the benefits of mindfulness and relaxation practices on health and well being. Relaxation is more than unwinding in a warm bath or going for a walk in nature. It refers to a psychological state that allows you to counteract the stress your body feels. Regular practice of relaxation combined with breathing exercises can result in increased energy levels, reduced anxiety, reduction in muscle tension and pain, as well as improved concentration and memory. Many other skills learned through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to overcome anxiety, depression, and coping with chronic pain build on the capacity to achieve deep relaxation.

Tips for Effective Meditations and Relaxation

1.     Practice daily, at approximately the same time of day, for 20-30 minutes. This will help set up a routine and maximize the effects of relaxation. Initially, it may take the entire 30 minutes to feel any effect of relaxation, but with practice you will be able to achieve a state of relaxation more quickly.

2.     Find a quiet location, free from as much distracting noises as possible.

3.     Ensure you are in a comfortable position, with your head and neck are supported. If you are laying down, find a soft surface and place a pillow underneath your knees for further support. If you feel drowsy or sleepy, sitting in a comfortable chair with good posture is a better option (to avoid falling asleep).

4.     Remove eyeglasses, take off shoes, remove any jewelry or tight fitting clothing, and leave your hair down.

5.     Make a decision to clear your mind. Give yourself the permission to relax your mind from any concerns and worries in your life. It is helpful to direct your focus on your breath. If your mind happens to wander off, gently re-focus your attention back on your breath.  But in doing this, do not judge your thoughts. Merely acknowledge them and redirect your attention to your breath.

6.     The most important tip is … Do not try to relax or control your body. Do not judge how well you can relax or whether you are applying the techniques correctly. Be in the present moment and allow your body to “let go.”

Mind Body


Here is breathing exercise you can try (adapted from: Bourne, E., The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, 2005):

1.     Refer to the relaxation techniques discussed previously.

2.     Begin by inhaling through your nose slowly while counting slowly: “1, … 2, … 3, … 4 … 5.”

3.     Pause and hold your breath for a count of five.

4.     Exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of five (or longer).

5.     Once you have exhaled completely, take two breaths in your normal rhythm.

6.     Repeat the exercise for 3-5 minutes.

7.     If desired, you can choose to practice by visualizing that with each inhalation energy is flowing to all parts of your body and form a mental picture of this energizing process. Alternatively as you exhale, you may wish mentally repeat to yourself, “peace,” “calm,” or “relax” or any other calming words you prefer. With enough practice, you can eventually achieve the state of relaxation or calm by just saying these words.

As you continue this exercise, you might notice that you are able to count higher when you exhale than when you inhale. You should adjust your counting to allow yourself to fully exhale. If you feel light-headed or dizzy, breathe normally for 30-seconds and resume the exercise. Be sure to keep your breathing is regular and smooth without gulping in air. Once you have mastered this skill it is particularly helpful to apply it at the first sign of anxiety symptoms or reducing stress.

Mind Body


When we are stressed and have tension in our bodies, our breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. This exercise allows the diaphragm – muscles that separate the abdomen from the chest cavity – to move downwards triggering our body’s normal relaxation response.  Here is breathing exercise you can try (adapted from: Bourne, E., The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, 2005):

1.     Follow the relaxation techniques discussed previously.

2.     Place one hand on your abdomen underneath your rib cage, and the other on your chest. Monitor your natural breath for a few minutes.

3.     Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose by a count of four, so that the air fills the lower part of your lung. You will feel your hand on your abdomen rising. As your lung continues to fill with air, your chest should only slightly move.

4.     Pause and hold your breath for a few seconds (count of four).

5.     Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth and completely empty your lungs (count of eight). As you exhale, visualize your body becoming relaxed.

6.     Repeat the steps and complete ten slow diaphragm breathing (1 set). You may wish to extend this exercise by completing 2-3 sets or for 5-minutes

If you feel light-headed or dizzy, breathe normally for 30-seconds and resume the exercise. Be sure to keep your breathing is regular and smooth without gulping in air. Once you have mastered this skill, this exercise is particularly effective at reducing early symptoms of panic and anxiety.

Mind Body


Take a moment to scan your body and any tension you may be feeling. Do your shoulders feel tight? Do you have tense mouth and lips? Do you feel any pain in your back, neck, or elsewhere in your body? Does your body feel warm? How is your breathing (rapid, shallow, etc.)?

Scan your body for tension once again and focus on relaxing the areas and muscles that may still be tense.

Mind Body


For the most part, those of us who are dealing with chronic pain have taken or heard of the necessary treatment measures. What you may not know is that there are many studies that show that diet can also play a major role in pain control. A diet geared towards the decrease of inflammation in the body, paired with exercise stress management, has been praised by many pain sufferers.

It is important to add that anyone considering changes to their diet should always consult with their primary care physician before taking part in any new lifestyle regimen.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to toxins.  However, with inflammation also comes pain and discomfort. Over a period of time, inflammation left untreated could result in more chronic conditions.

An anti-inflammatory diet, also known as a “Mediterranean diet” entails clean eating, very little red meat and dairy and little to no simple carbohydrates. It is important to note that the key here is not the food itself, but the diet as a whole.

Remember, consistency is the key. It is a lifestyle change and will not show results immediately.

Little red meat: Eat red meat very rarely. Instead, get your iron, protein and other vitamins from sources such as legumes, dark green and leafy vegetables, and substitute meat portions with fish or opt for a vegetarian choice.

The more color, there better: If you tend to see a white, grey or beige theme on your dinner plate, you are doing it wrong. Add as many colors as you can to your plate for each meal. Bright colored fresh fruit and veggies are optimal for vitamin intake, fiber and taste great!

Easy on the dairy and grains: Stay away from simple carbohydrates. This is where reading packaging will come into play. Avoid things like sugar, corn syrup and white flour. These foods can cause inflammation and don’t offer the best nutrition for your dollar. Try to eat high protein Greek yogurts, whole grain breads and whole wheat flour. Limit your overall dairy and grain intake to once a day instead of every meal.

Just like all lifestyle changes, this too will take time to show results. Be patient, and try to focus on how you feel as a whole. Day by day, you will feel and see a change in your body.


beautiful sporty woman lying and doing stretching exercise isolated on white background Sciatica refers to the pain that follows through the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through the pelvic region into the hips, buttock, and down the leg. Sciatica commonly affects one side of the body. Sciatica is often the result if an underlying issue. If you feel that you may suffer from sciatic pain, consult with your primary care physician for a proper diagnosis before trying other treatments. These exercises are meant to ease the discomfort of sciatic pain and are not to be considered a treatment. Always consult your care provider before trying any new exercises. When starting out, always be gentle on your body. Know your limits. These stretches are not meant to be painful.

  • Knee to chest: Lay on a flat surface, with your head supported. Bend your knees, and plant your feet firmly on the ground, in line with your hips. Slowly, bring one knee to your chest. Use your hands to pull your knee in towards your body. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this action on the other side. You will feel a stretch in your low back, upper thigh and abdomen.
  • Deep Stretch: Lay on a flat surface with your head supported. Bend your knees, and plant your feet on the ground, in line with your hips. Bend your right leg, and lay your right foot on your left thigh just below the knee. Grab your left thigh and gently pull your left leg towards your body. You will feel a slight stretch.
All bodies are different. Do not push yourself beyond what you can handle as it could potentially cause further damage. Always consult your doctor before engaging in any new exercise routine.

Chronic Pain

I have no parents: I make the heaven and earth my parents.

I have no home: I make awareness my home.

I have no life and death: I make the tides of breathing my life and death.

I have no divine powers: I make honesty my divine power.

I have no means: I make understanding my means.


I have no secrets: I make character my secret.

I have no body: I make endurance my body.

I have no eyes: I make the flash of lightening my eyes.

I have no ears: I make sensibility my ears.


I have no limbs: I make promptness my limbs.

I have no strategy: I make “unshadowed by thought” my strategy.

I have no design: I make “seizing opportunity by the forelock” my design.

I have no miracles: I make right action my miracle.

I have no principles: I make adaptability to all circumstances my principle.


I have no tactics: I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.

I have no talent: I make ready wit my talent.

I have no enemy: I make carelessness my enemy.

I have no armor: I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.

I have no castle: I make immovable mind my castle.

I have no sword: I make absence of self my sword.


A warrior’s creed – anonymous samurai song – 14th century

Mind Body