The 50 person fibromyalgia study contained a verbatim type description of typical sessions with the fibromyalgia patients following their visits with their fibromyalgia specialist physician. The description is excerpted here.
Description of a typical session: After the patients regular meeting with their physician, an ICE session was offered to the patient. Once the facilitator introduction had been made a typical session unfolded as follows. (This description includes the “space between two points” method.)
- Initial pain level: Facilitator checked in for pain levels and how long patient has been dealing with fibromyalgia
- Question to patient: “What emotion would you say describes your feelings about having fibromyalgia.”
- Peptide explanation: “The first thing I want you to know is that a literal molecule is created in response to whatever we are feeling at the moment. This molecule, called a peptide does two things related to your pain. It provides instructions for the cells of your body for what they should be doing. Peptides are also involved in memory storage.”
- Calm State: “I’m going to show you how to enter a calm state. When you’re in the calm state you’ll be making calm peptides. First focus your sight on the door handle. Notice that as you focus on the door handle, it’s a simple thing, and there’s little or no emotion involved. And the cells of your body do this because you told them to. The cells of our body, for as long as we live, are our servants. The problem is the cells of our body spend a lot of their time and energy responding to things they can’t do a thing about — our worries and fears about the past and the future. You can tell this is true if you wake up in the night and your heart is pounding about something that happened last week or that is going to happen next week. There’s nothing for your body to do while you’re in bed, but since your body can’t tell the difference between a thought and an action, your body goes on alert. Going into the calm state turns off the alert signal.So, while you’re focusing on that door handle, your body follows your command. And because it’s so simple you may already feel your body beginning to relax. Now focus on a second object, that blood pressure monitor on the wall. Again, the cells of your body do what you tell them. Next, I’m going to ask you to let your gaze move to the space between these two objects. There’s a wall in the background, but in the space between the door handle and the monitor, there is nothing. So you are observing nothing with your mind, because there is nothing to observe. And because you are observing nothing with your mind, there is nothing for the cells of your body to observe. And because there is nothing for the cells of your body to observe, the cells of your body are observing nothing. And when the cells of your body observe nothing, there is nothing to do, and the cells of your body turn inward to the process of cellular healing and restoration.In this rest state, your cells can metabolize energy, get rid of wastes, tune up the DNA strand, check in with the health of the body and even make drugs to help heal and restore your body. This calm state is the healthiest thing you can do for your body. You are giving your cells complete freedom to engage in healing for your body. Notice that you can be in this calm state and still be taking in information when I speak. The calm state does not shut your mind down. You can still observe everything, but your body remains calm, and your body can continue to focus on healing even when you’re observing what’s going on in the world. If you get some practice in, this can become your default state instead of always being in fight-or-flight mode.
- Explanation of fight-or-flight state: “This calm state is the natural resting mode for your body. The only time that the fight-or-flight response is needed is during a clear and present physical danger to our body. Then the fight-or-flight will automatically engage. For anything that you’re thinking about, you don’t need your fight-or-flight response. The problem is that for almost everyone, we have our fight-or-flight response turned on for almost everything, almost all of the time, responding to all the things we think about in the past, present, and future.”
- Expanding the calm space: “Right now your calm space is only that empty space between the door handle and the monitor. We can expand that space so you can be calm even while you’re remembering past events or future concerns. When you’re in this calm space, you are producing a peptide of calm and peace. (At this point, facilitator checked in with person to confirm that they were feeling only calm and peace. If so, process proceeded. If not, then whatever emotion was present would be the first emotion addressed in step 7.) It turns out that our memories are all stored with these same peptides. For instance if you got a speeding ticket and your emotion was anger, then when you remember that event, you can recall the feeling of anger, and that would take you out of this calm space. We can use a simple peptide exchange process so that you can be calm even when you remember that speeding ticket. And this process can work no matter what memory or future concern you bring to mind.”
- Peptide Exchange Process: “From this calm space, I want you to observe the emotion that you feel about your fibromyalgia. Because you brought up your feelings about fibromyalgia, the emotional peptides about your fibromyalgia are fragile and they can be replaced with these calm peptides. Your feeling may be the same, or it may be different, or you may be completely calm as you check in with your emotion about fibromyalgia. Let me know what you observe.”
- Iteration: The process then continued in a back and forth manner, with the patient sharing what they observed each time they checked in with their emotions, memories, or physical pain. The image of a person sitting in a theater and watching a movie is useful. Patients were told, “you don’t make this movie or analyze what shows up on the screen, just sit in the theater and watch the movie. Observe it for whatever emotions, physical sensation, memories or events show up on the screen.” Note that if a person felt an emotion, they would usually also be able to describe a place in the body where they also felt a sensation – such as stomach nausea, a tightness in the throat, jaw pain, headache, or chest ache.
- Once something showed up for the patient on their movie screen, the facilitator helped them return to the calm state for more calm peptides to replace with the non-calm peptides. If the movie contained a lot of strong emotion, it was useful to repeat some or all of step 4 for helping the patient return to the calm state. If the movie did not overly excite the patient, they could more easily return to the calm state, sometimes simply by directly observing the space with nothing in it.
- Each time a patient returned from the calm state back to the former issue, there was almost always a change. The particular emotion observed around a specific memory usually became calm during the exchange process. Then either a new emotion was observed, or else the only emotion around the memory was calm and peace. Once a person became calm about the issue, it became contained within their circle of calm experience. They could observe the issue anytime in the future, and they would likely remain calm even in the presence of memories that formerly carried a high emotional charge.
- As emotions and memories became calm, decreases in observed fibromyalgia pain were typically observed. Sessions lasted between 15 and 90 minutes, iteratively going back and forth between the calm state and the movie until the issues were calm. During the session, periodic checks were made as to the level of physical pain.
- Once a person’s fibromyalgia pain level began to drop a little bit, in this study, the pain either completely disappeared or almost completely disappeared. Fibromyalgia pain never just got somewhat better once a person entered the calm state.
- As fibromyalgia pain levels decreased, the facilitator continued to ask about emotions or memories that came up in association with the pain. The facilitator assisted the patient in following the trail of whatever arose during the session. As issues became calm one after the other, fibromyalgia pain levels continued to decrease and for 90% of the patients, to disappear completely.
- A session could be ended at any time the patient felt they were in a calm state. Once a decision was made to begin wrapping up a session, the same iterative process was used to calm whatever had already arisen without bringing any new issues into the session. A session did not end until the patient observed they were in a calm state.
- At the end of each session a printed resource was provided which explained the ICE process they had experienced. Included in the resource were references to where they could learn more about the theory behind the process, instructions for using the process on their own, and contact information if they wished to set up additional sessions.
- Patients were advised that if they were leaving with a zero pain level, they could expect to remain pain free unless their fight-or-flight mechanism got reactivated. “Because there are lots of issues and experiences in your life, it’s likely that there are other issues besides what we covered today. If those issues do retrigger your pain, you will probably be able to come back to zero pain again by using the ICE method again, either on your own or with a facilitator. You are welcome to get in contact with me in the future and we can schedule a visit, either in person, by phone, or by Skype.”
- As patients left it was explained that instead of being in fight-or-flight mode all the time, the calm state could become a person’s default state. Patients were encouraged to note that as they walked through the examination room door they were in the blank space between the left and right doorframe. The same was true of the hallway. And the road home had a left side, a right side, and a space in between. There was a space between two trees, between my words, a space between footsteps, a space between two breaths. Patients left with the invitation to access the space between two points on a continuous basis and to begin living their life from the calm space.