Pain is sensation.

Suffering can, sometimes, be optional.

We all experience pain. It’s part of having a nervous system. It’s a universal experience for humans. (And other mammals, and possibly other species.)

What does pain really do?

It gets our attention.

Sometimes it stops us in our tracks, like moving our hand quickly away from the hot pan or the stillness that often follows a fall as we take in what just happened.

Sometimes our response might be slower, like deciding to make a doctor’s appointment to get it checked out.

We often change course because of pain. Sometimes noticing pain may save our lives.

So what if pain is not something to push away?

What if pain simply carries a message, and the message is “pay attention”?

What if you really pay attention to your pain?

What if you notice it with your full attention?

Notice where it is. What shape is feeling pain? How deep is it? What qualities does it have: dull, sharp, radiating, throbbing, solid, shifting, strange, familiar?

Paying attention changes our relationship with pain. Instead of being “other,” it’s part of our self-experience.

I like this article by a Buddhist teacher, Belonging in the Body.

In my upcoming Self-Help for Jaw Pain online course, we will explore our own upper bodies and treat ourselves with our own hands.

Treating TMJ issues: portrait of a typical patient

Based on patients I’ve seen for jaw pain since 2013, I created this portrait of a typical patient.

She’s female and first experienced jaw pain in her teen years.

She’s suffered for at least a decade.

She clenches and/or grinds her teeth.

A dentist has prescribed an appliance to prevent damage to her teeth. The chances are 50/50 that she uses it as prescribed.

Woman with jaw pain

Her pain level fluctuates, increasing with stress, and she hasn’t gone more than 6 months free from jaw pain since onset.

Her neck and shoulders are tight. Sometimes she has headaches.

She has sought help from physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and/or massage therapy, and it helped some, but the results didn’t last.

She wonders if over time, it will get worse.

She is mostly resigned to suffering from jaw pain.

Still, she keeps hoping and searching.

If you can relate to at least some of this, please consider joining my Facebook group, Word of Mouth: Resources for Relieving Jaw Pain/Dysfunction and taking my Self-Help for Jaw Pain course (soon to be announced).

You have better things to do than suffer.

Update from MaryAnn

It’s been a while. A long strange while.

I’m staying safe, going out only for walks and groceries masked.

I hope and pray that you are well too.

Some updates, in lieu of a summer newsletter:

HeartMath is a great program that focuses on stress reduction. It’s been around for decades. You use a sensor that monitors your heart rate variability, which indicates how coherently (healthy) your body-mind system is functioning, which you can see on the companion Inner Balance app.

You can learn some simple techniques to increase coherence and reduce stress. With the sensor, you get accurate feedback so that with practice, you can learn the “sensory signature” of the state of coherence and induce it in yourself without the sensor when needed.

So… it’s like a brief meditation on the fly, switching from stressed to calm and together — who couldn’t use more of that?

Here’s more about it. If you’re interested, please call me at 512-507-4184. As a trainer, I can get you 25% off on a sensor and help you get started.

Once again, I’ve changed the name of my phone sessions/distance healing. I’m calling it Conversational Self-Healing, which more accurately reflects what happens and how it works.

I do ask you if you’d like me to place my “energy hands” around the area where you are experiencing some discomfort. I feel strong energy in my hands, and so far, every receiver has been able to discern a change in sensation in that area.

Mostly what we do is tune into your sensations, which are signals, and we listen to them deeply, which allows them to transform. This is how the body communicates and how we hold a conversation, between you and me, between you and your body, between my body and your body.

Schedule here.

I’m working on creating a 5-class series, Self-Help for Jaw Pain, of online learning that I hope to have ready in September. It will be offered on Zoom.

Participants will learn life-long skills that will enable reducing current jaw pain and nipping it in the bud should it return. We’ll work on reducing co-factors that are common in those experiencing jaw pain. We’ll work on self-massage skills — on the shoulders, neck, and head, and inside the mouth.

The class will include a self-evaluation form and a private session with me on Zoom.

This first round will be small (8 people max) and discounted (still working on pricing), since online teaching is new to me.

If you have any interest, please get in touch. I’ll post more here as I progress.

Working on creating something new is very satisfying. I would not have done this if it weren’t for COVID. Teaching brings the possibility of reaching many more people with jaw issues who don’t live in this area, and I can share what I’ve learned since I began learning to work in the mouth in 2013.

I offer free 15-minute phone consultations that you can schedule here, and I call you at the appointed time. We can talk about anything. Bring your questions!

Other interesting things I’ve found to do while staying in more than ever. Get in touch if you’re interested in joining in.

  • I’ve been doing ecstatic dance on Zoom with Tribal Joy, Essential Soul Sessions, Source in Motion, and Step into Yes! (the latter for women only).
  • I’ve been doing Gyrokinesis on Zoom.
  • I’ve been doing yoga on Zoom.
  • I enjoyed the poet David Whyte’s recent online series. He’s offering another one in September.
  • I have gotten hooked on watching a British detective series starring Brenda Blethyn. It’s called Vera. There are 10 seasons, so lots to binge, although I just do one episode a day.

What are you up to? What inspires and entertains you?