Sensitivity Analysis Through String Meditation – A Visit To The Dentist!


Hi Folks!

A while ago I was listening to National Public Radio during an interview with a woman living in Iraq who experienced ill treatment (to put it mildly) from the regime in charge at the time. This woman said that if she or her friends knew that they had to go to the ‘police station,’ which they would avoid at all cost, before going they would practice having to deal with pain by burning their arms with cigarettes. To practice dealing with pain! I wondered about this a lot as, like many people, I do have trouble handling pain. How does one practice this without self-induced major trauma? I learned a lot about handling pain during my studies of Kung Foo in my 40s, but it was not quite the same kind of pain that I have struggled with at the dentist, for instance!

A recent trip to my excellent prosthodontist, Chez Ollie, and his great staff (especially Brenda) taught me something. Jim does everything he can to avoid causing pain, but sometimes it is inevitable. I discovered during this visit that the way you allow your mind to relate to the pain is critical. I was having extensive dental work, which once again involved the insertion of astringent ‘string’ along the gum margins of all of my upper teeth (implants actually). This hurts a lot and takes time. Jim offered to numb me up, but I decided unilaterally to ‘tough it out,’ mainly because I don’t like injections, even though they don’t hurt at all when Jim does them. Whilst lying there, struggling to minimize movement and tension, I remembered the brave women on NPR and I thought ‘what was she thinking as she applied those cigarettes that made it a useful exercise?’

It became clear that I had two main choices: to look with my mind at the pain or to look away from it. If I looked away from the pain, I found that my mind started running away, which was rapidly followed by my head. Not helpful! Then I tried a scary thing, looking directly at the pain. Remarkably, this approach immediately diminished the pain’s perceived intensity, which struck me as an interesting and potentially useful observation. Such an approach is trainable, if you have the courage to take it on. I also observed that above a certain pain threshold my mind really tried to run away, which of course made things worse. I had a great chance to explore this issue for 20 to 30 minutes. It sure built my respect for that Iraqi lady on NPR!

What has this got to do with AAA and endurance training? A lot! Think about it!


Brave Sir Kevin (to quote Monty Python)

PS Here is another one!


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.