Botox, Migraines and Insight
I've been thinking about heads and headaches of late, for several reasons. One is that a friend just emailed and mentioned the possibility that she's developing migraines. This, in turn, reminded me of a client last week, and of Dar and me, many years ago. And of migraines, garden-variety headaches and wrinkles between the eyes. And all of that, believe it or don't, is mirrored in an email from one of Dar's friends from their Phase 1.
Back when Dar and I started hanging out, which would be in late 1983 (Zowie) we both did the "migraine thing." Dar's frequency level was higher than mine, and she'd also have a tough time keeping anything in her stomach - which makes taking pills difficult. One thing we noticed was that we seldom got migraines at the same time, which is good, as the non-sufferer can help the one with the migraine.
I won't bore you with the details, but in the "early days," prior to Imitrex, the only drugs that helped were narcotics. With the (thank god) advent of injectable Imitrex, migraines are now over in 10 - 15 minutes. The interesting thing, for both of us, is that the frequency of our migraines has dropped in the last 6 years or so, to probably 1 or less a year.
We still get garden-variety headaches - I probably average 1 or 2 a week. I pop a pill combination, and 99% of the time, the headache disappears. Dar has the same results. I would attribute the change to several things - to Bodywork, to Tai Chi, and to our willingness to let go of obsessing.
Which, in turn, reminds me of a photo gig I did for my buddy Katharine. She's an aromatherapist, and wanted a poster. We got a friend of mine to provide a back, and then whipped up a nifty poster.
I was looking for another version of this poster, which actually makes my point (he has a point???) - the other poster had a headline that simply read, "Tight???" I really liked that one, and got out-voted, as I remember.
The client I'm thinking about is an ER nurse, and overextended in the extreme. We've been looking at her "taking care of myself" skills, which were pretty non-existent prior to therapy. She's learning the power of saying "no." However, and it's a big however, she's got those funny little cavernous lines between her eyes. You know, Botox Valley. (Named by me, of course, for the principal location people inject botulism into - lordy, we are a weird people.)
Those lines are scowl lines, lines that scream, "You've got to be kidding!" It takes a fair amount of muscle tightening to create those lines, although people who make them often have gotten used to the forehead scrunching feeling. My client walked in with a deep pair of lines, smiled and said "Life is much better!" then grabbed her shoulders and said, "except for this blasted headache. It's been 3 days!" Ouch.
I hauled her over to my Bodywork table near the end of the session and worked on her shoulders, upper back, occipital lobes and finally, her forehead. She stood up, headache gone, and wanting a full Bodywork session next time. (Her pelvis is really blocked, and that's another story…) I indicated that understanding her plight (her inability to say no coupled with her pull to make everyone else "all better" - she's a nurse, after all…) and making a few DayTimer changes wasn't going to cut it. She needed to learn to let go ("Tight??") of her tendency to hold herself back and hold herself in, so that others will be happy. Which takes insight.
Let's revisit the Botox stuff, for a second. Botox works by paralysing the muscles that cause the wrinkles. In other words, the muscles (and the skin,) go numb. Hollywood is actually concerned, as actors who have received the Botox treatment no longer can express emotions, as their foreheads won't move on command. Think about it.
Much like Prozac, Botox is a way to numb something out so a person can ignore it. Botox doesn't deal with why the person chooses to "scowl" in the first place. It simply makes it impossible for the person to scowl. However, nothing changes regarding the emotional state of scowling. It just doesn't show.
Two more pieces to this article. The spot between the eyebrows where the scowl lines manifest is also the 6th chakra. The 6th chakra has to do with insight and intuition. In Indian thinking, this is the location of the third eye. In the West this is the location of the Pineal gland, which reacts to light. So, here is the analogy I use: clarity of insight requires the ability to look, simultaneously, inside and out. The theoretical location for this process is the 6th chakra. If we tighten ("Tight??") the area, creating wrinkles, we are doing the biological equivalent of trying to see through crumpled cellophane. What little you "see" is not very clear.
From a psychological POV, you might say, "all of that scowling and indignation is a judgement about internals and externals, whose only purpose is to create blocked feelings or emotional outbursts."
I would suggest that insight (let's use the word to suggest internal and external clarity) is a process not of fighting to be right, nor a process of defensive posturing, but rather a place of "simply seeing." From this place of clarity, I let go ("Tight??") of the need to change others, to be declared to be "special," or to punish myself for being somehow "less" than I "should be."
Dar's Phase Buddy Pat wrote:
Hi Wayne. I have been really enjoying your terrific articles. Saw a sign on a church today that I thought you might like - might even be a good one for another of your helpful missives - "The only thing better than love at first sight is love with insight". Thanks for writing these articles and especially for sharing them so easily and accessibly. Much appreciated.
Notice that quote. Love at first sight is all emotion and no insight. It's hormonally driven and all about bells and whistles. Love at first sight gets our juices flowing, and in the end, it's pretty meaningless. Love with insight is the ability to truly see the love object, which might be pretty much anything, in a clear and thoughtful and yet not attached, not emotional way.
When we are caught in the emotion of "love," (or any emotion, for that matter) then scowling is inevitable. We have "fallen down and can't get up," trapped ("Tight??") in our illusions, our fantasies, our need to control others or situations. When we are living with insight, we see from multiple perspectives. We allow others to be who they are, while choosing not to "be" them just because we care about them. We hold on to all things with a light touch. A non-critical, non-judgemental touch.
In this lightly holding stance, our bodies begin to flow, naturally. Using pressure and Bodywork, we learn to "let go" of chronic tension, even the tension we no longer feel, numb as we are. The pressure ("I think my head is going to explode!") is no longer necessary, nor appreciated, so it can simply be put aside.
Headaches, Botox, insight, looseness, tightness. Inter-wound and intermixed. De-crease yourself. Insightful, eh?
Good News: There is Nothing To Accomplish
Venerable Lama Gendun Rinpoche
Happiness cannot be found through great effort and willpower, but is already present, in open relaxation and letting go.
Don't strain yourself; there is nothing to do nor undo.
Whatever momentarily arises in the body mind has no real importance at all -- has little reality whatsoever. Why identify with, and become attached to it, passing judgement upon it and ourselves.
Far better to simply let the entire game happen on its own, springing up and falling back like waves - without changing or manipulating anything - and notice how everything vanishes and reappears, magically, again and again, time without end.
Our searching for happiness prevents us from seeing it. It's like a vivid rainbow which you pursue without ever catching, or a dog chasing its own tail. Although peace and happiness do not exist as an actual thing or place, it is always available and accompanies you every instant.
Don't believe in the reality of good and bad experiences; they are like today's ephemeral weather, like rainbows in the sky.
Wanting to grasp the ungraspable, you exhaust yourself in vain. As soon as you open and relax this tight fist of grasping, infinite space is there - open, inviting and comfortable.
Make use of this spaciousness, this freedom and natural ease. Don't search any further.
Don't go into the tangled jungle looking for the great awakened elephant who is already resting quietly at home in front of your own hearth.
Nothing to do or undo, nothing to force, nothing to want and nothing missing- Emaho! Marvellous! Everything happens by itself.