I reached out to Deb after three years of constant back pain that limited my ability to walk more than a couple dozen feet - even the grocery store was overwhelming. I had tried muscle relaxers and doctors and a supportive chiropractor, but I had no long-lasting recovery. I wanted to go for walks again and feel like I could function in the basic tasks I need to get through my day.
Deb has built my understanding of what pain is and created a pathway for me to interact with it. That was the easy part. What was truly transformative was the radical kindness she espouses, which led us to conversations about how stress affects my pain (and anxiety, actually), how those things compound, and how I'm allowed to interact with those feelings instead of shutting them out because they're "bad." Deb gave me a set of tools that no one had ever made available to me before, and I will use them for the rest of my life.
I have recovered enough that walking isn't scary anymore. The grocery store is easy. I went through the house buying process during our sessions as well and climbed about 120 (!) flights of stairs. I can move, and if I encounter pain, I know what to do. More importantly, I have a framework for questioning my interpretations of my environment, relationships, and feelings that has improved all of them dramatically.
I feel like I have my body back, and that is the absolute least of what my sessions with Deb did for me. She has changed how I think about my anxiety and how I can affect it. She has challenged my self-criticism and offered the option of kindness to myself. She has walked me through my own neuroses and asked me what I want to keep around, then empowered me to let the rest go. Most importantly, she helped me help myself. I feel... Ready.
I wanted to work with Deb because it is challenging to find people working in bodymind science who are attuned to the interlocking structures of oppression that interact with our bodyminds and our pain. Deb occupies that happy space where science meets social justice—I felt safe to explore my bodymind with her because I knew that her information and insights wouldn’t be based in fatphobia, ageism, or ableism.
Deb helped me uncover some of the core beliefs and thoughts that were driving not only my physical pain but also my anxiety. I have found so much relief from both using the tools Deb offers and models in our sessions. I feel so much more confident in my ability to deal with pain and anxiety when they come up, to understand both as neutral sensations in my bodymind that are just part of the “being a human” package. I’ve started running again—given that a couple of years ago I was convinced I’d never walk again, that’s a pretty big fucking deal!
This program was so worth the investment. Deb is not only well-informed, they are also a caring and attentive listener, and an insightful coach who knows how to ask the right questions to unlock our own capacities for healing and growth. They’re also a blast!
I am so much more hopeful than I was before this program, because I know that whatever happens, I can handle it. I’m looking forward to becoming a better friend to my bodymind.
I signed up for the program because I had migraines for almost 20 years. At the time I signed up for the program, I was experiencing multiple migraines a week that I was treating with prescription medication.
I also had chronic shoulder and neck pain for years. I had tried medication, physical therapy several times and weekly chiropractor visits to treat the pain but nothing had helped.
I was hoping to reduce the number of migraines that I was experiencing every week. I never imagined that I would be able to actually cure the migraines.
I was also hopeful that I would have reduced shoulder and neck pain but I really assumed that I would always have that pain.
My motivation was really that I wanted to “fix” myself so that I could be more productive or more if a perfectionist.
I was so excited to dive into the materials. I found the material so interesting.
The first week introduced me to pain science. I was relieved to learn that it’s actually possible to rewire our brains to feel less chronic pain and that we can actually create new no pain pathways. That intro really opened my brain up to the possibility that I could actually be pain free. I started the course on a Saturday or Sunday. I watched the course materials and journaled about my experience throughout the course. I was completely pain free Monday-Wednesday of that week. That completely shocked me and honestly freaked me out a little bit. I did experience one migraine the first week and I took my medication (the only one I’ve had since starting the course and I don’t even know where the medication is now!).
I was able to observe my symptoms and to recognize what triggered those symptoms and my fear about the oncoming migraine which caused the symptoms to ramp up. I was blaming myself for not taking care of myself and the lack of compassion for myself would just continue the cycle. After I had identified that fear cycle which was explained in the course material, I was able to use the tools taught in the program to observe the beginning of the cycle and to stop the cycle.
The course and one on one coaching helped me realize that resisting my feelings/emotions (for like 20 years) was leading to the pain. I was also an extreme perfectionist/legalist which led to more resistance (anything negative was unacceptable).
My brain was using the pain to try to protect me from any negative feelings. After I learned self compassion through the course, my brain no longer needed to protect me from negative feelings bc I felt safe to feel them - I knew I’d have my own back no matter what. As I learned to allow all of my feelings and be willing to feel any feelings including any pain - the pain just faded away.
Now if I do have pre-migraine symptoms arise (which is rare), I take a step back and think what am I resisting here? How can I offer myself compassion? - and the cycle and pain and fear never starts.
I also love combining my thoughts above with the somatic tracking exercises that I learned in the course. Those two tools combined have allowed me to stay totally pain free.
Also, the material was easy to understand and was presented in a very user friendly way. I enjoyed the one on one coaching aspect because it allowed me to take the materials deeper and helped me apply the materials to my life. I think the one on one coaching set me for long term success. By success I mean practicing allowance and self compassion which leads to being pain free.
Not only am I migraine and chronic pain free, I feel like my life has been changed in so many ways by the coaching. Before starting the course I was very focused on perfection and not feeling any negative physical symptoms or emotions. I really wanted to check the boxes in my mind of what a perfect parent, employee and spouse look like.
The course and coaching helped me realize that in trying to gain perfection I was resisting my thoughts and feelings and wasn’t truly present in my own life. I was very numb to emotions both good and bad. As I started practicing the allowance I was coached on, I felt like my eyes were opened up to an alternate way of living my life. After practicing allowance and self compassion I knew that I wanted to allow myself to be a human (as imperfect as that may be) in order to fully experience my life and to experience genuine meaningful relationships with my partner and my son. I became willing to feel negative emotions and to be imperfect. As soon as that happened, I felt so light and free from a burden I had been carrying for a long time. I now feel present in my life and I experience and allow the full range of human emotions. I enjoy my time with my son so much more now that I have laid down the pressure of being a perfect parent. My relationship with my partner has really improved as well. When I gave myself permission to be human, I also gave others permission to be imperfect humans. This really allowed us to have a more genuine relationship with each other.
Basically I was a robot and now I’m a human and loving the full range of human emotions and experiences that I get to experience every day!
I no longer experience migraines. I went from having multiple a week that required prescription medication to zero migraines. Rarely, I will feel the pre- migraine symptoms start to arise (floaters and facial numbness) but it doesn't send me into a panic. I’m able to use the tools I learned in the program and the symptoms recede.
I have no pain in my shoulder or neck. I'm able to notice when I tensing my muscles and it allows to look at what I’m resisting or feeling and the pain doesn’t arise. Before the course, I always thought I would have that pain forever.
(Update - Lauren had a baby in early 2022 and used these skills to experience no pain during birth or recovery. Wow!)
Four days after I got my second COVID vaccine, I hopped in my car and drove across country and back.
I made it back from NC to CA in 3.5 days. I never could have done this without Deb’s pain course.
Before the course, I let back pain define and rule my life. I saw myself as someone with a bad back which was a huge part of my identity.
Almost every day, I feared my back and my life was going to be that of my Mother's who is 30 years older than I am.
Deb’s class helped me shift my perspective. I realized I can see myself as a capable person who sometimes has back pain.
That was probably my biggest revelation.
Before I started the course, I wished she would teach me to power through my pain. Maybe I could learn to walk over hot coals or something. Then I realized that would be unrealistic.
As long as I’m human, I will experience pain. Besides my reframe, I also learned about graded exposure and paying more attention to my back.
On my trip across country, I stopped and stretched when my back was feeling a bit upset. A few minutes of stretching made a great deal of difference.
I know this course was one of the most transformative and valuable things I’ve ever experienced.
Links To Video Testimonials
Lauren - https://youtu.be/PtNbVZbT_Rk
Larissa - https://youtu.be/FzMifcICAJc
Ash - https://youtu.be/wWTJAEQXG8I