In a recent session a woman experienced relief of the knee pain she’d been experiencing for more than twenty years, ever since the two surgeries she experienced while a college basketball player. When she stood up at the end of the session, she reported that there was zero knee pain, whether sitting or standing.
“Is there a motion you could do to check if there’s any more pain?”
“Yes,” she replied, “But I don’t have any pain anymore so why would I move it there and hurt it?”
In the ICE Method, you follow the emotions.
“What emotion did you just feel when you decided not to check your knee?”
First she felt fear because her pain would return. Then she felt anger that I would ask her to do something painful. Once that cleared out she was dumbfounded to have a strong memory of the coach who had been such a torment to her. When that memory was ICE’d she found that she had become curious about her knew. When she tested it, there was no pain.
Eight days later I emailed to check on how this person was doing. Pain again. She had time to come for a visit that same afternoon. Tense again. Knee hurting again. Forearms hurting again. She was preparing for a physically demanding theater performance. “I’ve had two surgeries,” she said, a little bit curtly, “of course my knee is going to hurt.”
In reality, her real experience was that she’d experienced five full days with zero knee pain, and then once it started hurting again she believed that it had to hurt and it would hurt forever again. I watch this happen over and over again. Someone gets full relief and then when their life clicks out of the calm space its as if they never experienced any relief. The fight-or-flight is engaged again and calm seems a fantasy. We did some more ICE’ing, attending to emotion, and memories, and physcial sensations. Later her pain decreased and then disappeared again. She was back in the calm space, back in the present moment, free for awhile, at least, of the reactivity to past events and future fears that were appearing as physical distress. In this woman’s case, it seems that her knee has become a place where fear gets stored and the painful knee provides some protection from ending up in fearful places. If it starts hurting again, we’ll have more clues about how to calm her fight-or-flight response, and build out her circle of calm. Grow the calm space, remove the fight-or-flight triggers, that’s what there is to do on the path to health and peace.
When I do the ICE process with people, I never know whether pain will stay the same or change or disappear. What I’ve become completely confident about is that any emotional peptides that are causing or contributing to symptoms can be helped by this ICE Method. What I continue to be surprised by is the range of issues in our lives that have emotional components. After two knee surgeries and more than 20 years of pain – emotional experiences with a coach were addressed and relieved – another wonderful result. This process continues to amaze me, but I admit that I am less and less surprised when a person’s symptoms disappear.