BY KEITH WOMMACK – Let the real games begin. No, not the Olympics, we’re talking football. Goal line stands. One-hand catches. Last second touchdowns.
College spring practices and intersquad performances are finished. The preseason NFL (National Football League) games are finally over. It’s good to get back to contests that matter.
Although I spend more time watching games than I would like to admit, I spend even more time helping to heal the pain and suffering of others. Therefore, it caught my attention last season when Dallas Cowboys’ safety, Gerald Sensabaugh was quoted as saying, “Pain is just mental.”
The news report I was reading stated that there were only a small number of football players who were able to complete a game with a strained arch and as well, play another game five days later. However, after Sensabaugh helped his team defeat the Miami Dolphins last Thanksgiving, he was added to the list.
“I don’t take any medications,” Sensabaugh apparently told reporters. “I’ve dealt with all kinds of illness without medication. I remember one time I had the flu real bad and didn’t take anything. Pain is just mental. If I know it’s nothing structural, I should be able to ride through it.”
“That’s how I was growing up, that’s how I’ve raised my kids,” Sensabaugh said. “If you fall and bust your head, get up and play. It’s not that bad. Usually they get up laughing.”
Pain is a real battle for many people. However, there are those like Sensabaugh who have found that how they think controls how they feel. Studies at Stanford University’s Neuroscience and Pain Lab show that redirecting one’s focus can lead to over 40 percent less of an awareness of pain.
Several years ago, I was working on an amplifier with a long-handled screwdriver. The screwdriver slipped, got turned around, and scratched my eye. At first I felt no pain, but then suddenly the pain was severe, and all light was painful. I put on a pair of sunglasses, closed my bedroom curtains and called a friend to pray for me. I’d found prayer to be enormously beneficial before, so this was a natural first resort.
I recalled how in the past I’d felt a confident sense of control rather than helplessness because of prayer, and the spiritual peace that permeated my consciousness through prayer gave me a realization of freedom as well.
The pain immediately stopped. I opened the window and took off the glasses. I was pain-free for several days, — the scratch had completely disappeared. The only problem left was the eye was slightly out of focus.
Then, to my surprise and disappointment, four mornings later it seemed I had returned to the old condition. The extreme pain was back.
I called the friend who had prayed with me to give her the news. She asked, “Have you ever been to Moscow.” I said, “No.” She responded, “If you’ve never been to Moscow, then you can’t return.”
I laughed out loud because I knew what she meant. If those prayers had truly been effective then there was no basis for returning to the former condition. As I thought about her point, I noticed the pain had just as quickly disappeared, and the eye came into focus. That was the end of it.
What Sensabaugh stated, I found to be true: Pain can be just mental.
Does this mean we simply ignore it? Just tough it out? No.
Every physical or mental trouble should receive some method of immediate and responsible treatment. For example, concussions suffered during sporting events are finally receiving the important attention needed. And the Dallas Cowboys have one of the finest medical staffs in America.
The point here is that today there is a growing awareness of the other methods being used to treat pain and its causes. In my practice of spiritual healing, I’ve see pain successfully eliminated.
Along with Gerald Sensabaugh, we all have the authority to take control of our thought by changing our focus. Instead of pain restricting or dominating us, we can live (and play) with dominion.
– Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: KeithWommack.com
Leaving Christian Science doctrine aside, human physiologists use the term pain cautiously. It’s clearly a psychological response to nervous impulses that are interpreted as pain in sentient beings. Some nervous pathways are highly associated with what most people interpret as pain… but these aren’t called pain fibers — they are called nociceptive fibers. They run from nociceptors that originate the signals to the brain, but how the brain interprets nociceptive input appears subjective. So is pain learned? Perhaps — at least somewhat. It’s certainly a protective response, esp that which is transmitted by fast-conducting A-variant fibers. Even those fibers most associated with chronic pain (slow-conducting, non-insulated “C” nerve fibers) have some protective function insofar as this stimulus warns us to rest areas where the pain seems to have its origin. So it’s no surprise that one can sometimes “wish-away” or “pray away” pain. Add the endogenous release of opoid-like substances (that produce phenomena like a “runner’s high), the effects of corticosteroid or other hormones, gate-control mechanisms (e.g., pain relief from rubbing an injury) and it’s clear that pain is a psychic phenomenon that is both complicated and variable from person to person and even in the same person from time to time. Indeed, hypnosis can be used to completely eradicate painful responses in some patients. (I’ve seen a woman undergo dermal abrasion — like sanding away the skin — to rid herself of severe acne scars under self-hypnosis alone.) So can placebos. So, the author’s thesis fits modern science — but there aren’t all that many people who are able to achieve complete relief from profound pain — esp. chronic pain, via faith alone. But it’s worth a try — always. And it may help reduce the intensity at the very least!
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