Mindfulness, Pain Management, and Your Night-Time Dreams

Those midnight movies that you make in your head are there to help. Those weird, embarrassing, “can’t-believe-they-mean-anything”, sometimes nightmarish electrical discharges in your brain at night can help you manage your pain more effectively. I am trained and seasoned in various approaches to dream work such as Psychoanalytic, Jungian, Gestalt and Projective Approaches. Paying attention to our dreams, all dreams, in my experience, including trauma memory dreams, assists clients to reduce pain, anxiety, depression and increases more productive meaningful living.

Here’s how:

Pay attention to your dreams with a curious and non-judgemental tone. This is training you to be mindful. The benefits are increased self-awareness for both mind and body. Being curious and exploring the meanings of dream symbols will enable a person to be more self-accepting and empowered in daily living. Having conversations about dreams with trusted others will enhance relationships, reduce anxiety and increase connections with others.

Mindfulness is the key component in working with dreams. It is empowering to explore the various symbols of the dream’s “elements” and move toward understanding the dream’s many messages for the dreamer. The client becomes more attuned to her/his inner self and, thus is more attuned to her/his waking world to live more productively and meaningfully. Remember, only the dreamer can say for sure what the dream means.

Keep a dream journal and bring selected dreams to sessions to explore. Journaling dreams engages the “thinking brain” to become more in touch and aware of the dreamer’s body, emotions, reactions, and choices.

Dr. Royce Fitts



Mindfulness and Pain Management

What is mindfulness?

Is it good, bad, weird, fake, “whoo-whoo,” helpful, “just for yoga folks, but not for real people”, spooky, meditation or what?

“Dr. Fitts, sometimes when I’m in pain, feeling really uncomfortable and can’t sleep, I try to remember some good, restful, relaxing times…that were pleasurable…and, I fall asleep…”

Mindfulness.THAT is what the person experienced in order to fall asleep.

We do thinking like that all the time. We just don’t call it mindful.

Ever get lost in a great movie, a book, or visiting with someone and, suddenly, you realize, you have lost track of time!?

Mindfulness. Focused attention.

When you need to relieve your pain and discomfort, you can train your mind to focus on something that will capture your thinking and take your thoughts in a new direction.

Try this little trick on yourself: Don’t think about your breathing right now. Don’t think about the air being sucked into your lungs and the air being released. Don’t think about breathing.

Can’t do it, can you? You have to think about your breathing because you were directed to think about it. This little trick shows you how good you are that you can become mindful on purpose.

Mindfulness helps to manage many parts of our lives like pain, depression, anxiety, grief, work, relationships.

Mindfulness is focused attention. Simple. Hard. Powerful. And, it works.

Dr. Royce Fitts

The 2 Brains in the Head – “Brain 1 and Brain 2”

(with apologies to Dr. Seuss and to pain management physicians and health care providers)

Pain is all about survival. Pain is an intense warning that danger lurks and life may be threatened. Imagine this super-simplistic explanation:

We have 2 Brains.

Brain 1 is “old”, always looks for emergencies to help us stay alive. It hates pain because pain is an emergency and must be stopped. Brain 1 doesn’t think, it reacts.

Brain 2 is “new”, thinks and plans, uses logic to solve problems.

Brain 1 is so powerful, it floods Brain 2 with anxiety to stop the pain.

That is why we can’t think when we are in pain. Brain 1 is screaming “stop the pain!”

However, Brain 2 is powerful, also. You can train Brain 2 to be in charge more and reduce the screaming and pain messages from Brain 1. Here’s how to increase the power of Brain 2:

Breathe. Use Brain 2 to focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Breathe in, breathe out, deeply. This will give you a rest.

Direct Your Thinking. Focus your thoughts on a topic, memory, place or passion that captures your attention. Keep a list ahead of time to use when you need it.

Journal. Use Brain 2 to write down your thoughts, no matter what. On paper, vent your hurt, anger, pain, grief. No censoring. As you write, curse, scream, yell, cry, sing, pray or whatever your feel. Writing engages Brain 2. Keep it private. Maybe burn it later before anyone sees it.

Dr. Royce Fitts

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