How I healed my back pain after 14 years

My Journey of Healing the Heart.

Yes, 14 years. I started seeing a Chiropractor at 12 years old because of low back and neck pain. I did that for the next dozen years and although I might get in shit for saying this, seeing a Chiropractor didn’t do a damn thing. Except cost my parents 2-3 visits a month. My progress to healing my back was pretty well dead until I discovered what it feels like to have fire rage through my entire body.

For years, doctors told me I was too young for it to be anything serious. It was not until my injury at 23 years old did the doctors “discover” I had a degenerated disc in my low back, which happened to slip out during yoga. The pain was most severe for about 6 months prior when the nerves of my vertebra knocked into each every time I did something active,  sending shock waves through my body. I clearly wasn’t listening to my body until it forced me to listen. Fire is the only word to describe it.

The next 2 years consisted of yoga every morning to keep my muscles from spasming and this therapy was just fine with me. But my mat, as it always is, really became my mirror. I could see that although I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t progressing either. I clearly hit a wall in my yoga practice and new forms of exercise like pilates and barre made my back seriously flare up. I knew in my heart something wasn’t right. Even though I wasn’t feeling pain like I used to, I still felt my body was trying to talk to me. I totally played the victim roll and blamed all the things I couldn’t do on my back. And honestly, it worked (See My Disease, My Crutch on Elephant Journal!). But I reached a point in my life, at 26, where I became very tired. Tired with the limitations of my body, the limitations in my mind, the limitations of my heart. So tired of the story. The deepest part of me knew it was all connected, but it was much easier to be a victim to the shitty cards that were dealt to me than do the work to get out of the hole

I started pilates, quite randomly, and I had no idea opening the door to Neumovement studio in Kelowna was going to, literally, change my life. I took a few classes however, and went further down hill. Pilates requires precise movements of muscles, especially the stabilizer muscles – none of which worked for me . I literally could not activate my important core muscles because they had shut off after years of compensation patterns from my back pain. I obviously became very frustrated as I slowly felt my back and spirits get worse. With time, pilates and physio were slowly making things better but it wasn’t until I had a serious chat with one of the beautiful owners, that I saw a completely different perspective.

She was correct when she suggested a different source to my back pain. Me. The idea that I was keeping myself in pain. That it was me that was keeping myself from progressing. She shed new light on seeing my pain. My back pain kept me safe and maybe I was subconsciously keeping myself there. Safe from success, safe from growing, safe from excelling and safe from the hurt of the people who will judge me for it. You see, my pain kept me from ever being a better yogi, physically, and it kept me from success. Success burned me in the past, as people I grew up with – both friends and family – liked to keep me in their comfort zone. Success meant being talked about, being put down, called names, and disliked. I was much safer being like everyone else. And my dear friend at Neu saw this straight away.

So that was it. In order to heal my body, I had to heal myself. This realization was the turning point. And this is where the beautiful side of the story unfolds. Over the past six months I have sourced out various healers and modalities and I can’t express enough the importance of asking and seeking out help. I started with a life coach who made me do things I dreaded. I basically relived the childhood I could barely remember because it was so shitty. I had to write out in detail the first time I was called a nigger. Or the several trips to the hospital because of severe abdominal pain I had for many years. I had to relive a family member’s depression and the many break ups. It was hell. And then I needed to deal with it because although I told my mind I was over it, my body clearly hadn’t healed. Our cells hold our history, they store memories and your mind can talk all it wants. The heart has to do the healing. Huge break throughs came with this several month process and although every session ended in tears, I knew a massive layer was being peeled away. Revelations and realizations happened during those sessions and no amount of reliving the pain could compare to the beauty of the break through.

Meanwhile, I started seeing Paula Woodward for Traditional Chinese Medicine. Using different techniques such as cupping, herbs but primarily acupuncture, I was hooked. After only two sessions I was able to have my first nights sleep in years. No doctors or sleep specialist could help me, it was straight up acupuncture. I also had digestive issues for years that have now cleared. The biggest difference, physically, was my lack of stress. Those needles are magic. I found myself immediately less stressed and more calm with daily life. I must say though that the most effective part of TCM was Paula herself. Regardless of the personal friendship we developed, when you step into her room you are seen, heard and acknowledged on every level. You can’t hide a damn thing from her, and to have someone describe struggles in your life that aren’t diagnosis’ or straight out of a textbook, is like receiving the biggest hug in the whole world (as if a doctor would say “you can’t sleep because your heart has been in shock and is trying to keep you safe”). My experience with TCM was profound.

I had 2 sessions with Daniela for Body Talk that blew my mind. I can’t explain how she does it, but she does. By reading my body she could immediately sense lingering personal issues and together we head butted them. I felt a major shift in my body after my sessions with her. My heart and my body felt transformed.

During all of this, I kept with a steady pilates and yoga practice which was absolutely essential. I was also able to see two extremely talented physio therapists at neumovement, who helped me get my strained, tired muscles to relax, and the ones that were sleeping to wake up.

At the pinnacle of this healing, I made the decision to leave for Bali a few weeks before my teacher training to spend time with me. Traveling alone does something to you. It shouts in your face confidence and independence that is unparalleled. Since being in bali, I met a traditional Balinese Healer (yes, the one from Eat, Pray, Love) and again my mind was blown. Without knowing anything other than my name, birthplace and birthday, this woman saw straight through me. She picked up things very few people know about me and immediately sensed back pain and issues with my skin. After 3 days (!) of massages, scrubs, eating leaves and other herbs, having my bad spirits and bad karma relieved and a clearing of my chakras by a priest, I again was floored. Long, long story short, my skin hasn’t been this clear since I was 11. Literally.

And here comes the cherry on top. Colon Hydrotherapy. I wish I could give details here but I probably shouldn’t. Let’s just say I was literally full of shit for years and not only was this 3 session procedure a physical release, it was more than anything an emotional release. The first session, I swear to Shiva, my heart cried. My tears were few, but they were from the deepest part of me. It was as if all the work I did for the past few years, led me to this place with a stunning girl holding an unnerving device, to have my final release. As my body was freed of the toxic waste I’ve carried along for so long, so was I. I felt it in every cell.

So yes, I realize not everyone has access to pilates, physio therapy, a life coach, acupuncture, colonics and a trip to bali but most of those things I did for trade and I worked my ass off to afford the rest. What I did pay for, was priceless. More than anything though, I recognized where the healing needed to be done. It wasn’t on my back, it was on my heart. My back was just my bodies way of telling me that. And I finally did the work for it. I had to look straight at the demons of my past and tackle them once and for all. I relived it all over again, but this time I actually dealt with it. The hardest part.

My 500hr teacher training which I am about to embark on, will be the real test. But this time, I’m coming to my mat like it’s the first time. Because really, it is. I’m not the person I used to be. I am freed.

And as I sit under the Balinese stars writing this, I’ve never felt better in my life.

Steph Wall