I use this technique if I feel I am not getting anywhere with the tapping, humming, and counting alone (I explained in detail how I do this in case study method psychology definition my previous post), or if I need some variety. A clear explanation of this technique can be found here.
This is a simple tool but has helped me release blocks to my healing. For instance, if I am tapping, but have a persistent chemical taste in my mouth, I will stop the tapping and then use WHEE to target the chemical taste. I recommend doing this with a smile on your face. Here is how I do it:
1. Create the set-up. “Even though I can taste chemicals in my mouth, I love and accept myself wholly and completely, and God [Christ/Allah/the Infinite Source etc] loves and accepts me wholly, completely, and unconditionally.”
2. While repeating this affirmation, I pat my biceps alternately, side to side, while doing what is referred to as the “butterfly hug”. The butterfly hug is done with arms crossed in front of chest with hands patting the biceps; this is explained in the WHEE article.
I do this technique for a few cycles until I feel some relief. If I don’t feel any relief, I try to locate any underlying negative thoughts or beliefs that might be there. For instance, I might be thinking, “I don’t even think this is going to work.” So I will do the butterfly hug and pat my biceps while saying the new set-up:
“Even though I don’t even think this is going to work, I love and accept myself wholly and completely, and God [Christ/Allah/the Infinite Source etc] loves and accepts me wholly, completely, and unconditionally.”
I’ve found that the WHEE process can also release blocks to motivation. For instance, one evening I was supposed to go out to a friend’s going away party. I had an exposure earlier in the day that left me feeling discouraged and fatigued and I really just wanted to skip the party and go to bed. I had actually just read through the WHEE process, and as I lay down, I decided to see what happened if I tried the WHEE. I used the set-up,
“I’m discouraged and fatigued and I don’t want to go to the party.”
While doing this for a few cycles, I realized that underneath this thought was another one:
“I am worried that people will be wearing fragrances at the party.”
So I then used this thought as my set-up and did a few more cycles of WHEE:
“Even though I am worried that people will be wearing fragrances at the party, I love and accept myself wholly and completely, and God loves and accepts me wholly, completely, and unconditionally.”
After only 3 or 4 cycles of this, I noticed I had more energy and that my worrying about exposures at the party had vanished (I could always leave whenever I needed to, right?). So I got dressed and left for the party. I had an amazing time with absolutely no reactions even though there were about 40 people milling about, some of whom were wearing fragrance.
Another huge block that I discovered was an underlying fear of getting better. This surprised me, but I decided to do WHEE with that thought as my set-up. While doing it, it occurred to me that I was afraid of getting better because then much more would be expected of me by others, and what if I get better and then get ill again? I believe that a part of my subconscious brain was creating a block to getting better because it was afraid of change. While continuing to do the WHEE, I was able to process that and release the fear of change. For me it was a powerful and emotional breakthrough. I am new to WHEE, but I think it has a ton of potential to help with motivation and blocks in other areas (i.e. creative blocks for writers, artists, etc).
Technique Three: HAMR
You can find out everything you need to know about this brain retraining tool at the official website http://www.hamr.com/ There are PDFs of the technique that are downloadable for free, and if you are interested I recommend downloading the “HAMR Starter Program.” It’s a small PDF file with diagrams and easy to understand instructions.
If you decide to apply HAMR to MCS as I have done, I would recommend first practising the HAMR Lessons 1-11 in the above mentioned Starter Program. Practise this until it flows naturally before you try the HAMR for MCS. This HAMR lesson is powerful in itself for instilling a sense of self-worth by using an affirmation of being chosen by everyone in a competition.
I took the basic HAMR procedure and changed the wording in order to change my brain’s beliefs about fragrances and common chemicals. I honestly don’t believe this is a “mental” process; I believe it actually creates a shift in neurology. I can’t prove it, but the first time I used this it produced a very strange sensation in my brain that I can only describe as something shifting. It was actually a bit disorienting at first. The creator of the program says that some people describe this sensation as an altered state, or a sense of exhilaration. I definitely identify with the feeling of being in a temporary altered state, and found after the exercise that I needed to lie down for several minutes to let my brain do its thing. It won’t necessarily happen to you, but if it does, know that it is apparently a common reaction.
I would recommend that anyone who tries this out do so no later than a few hours before bedtime, because I found it difficult to fall asleep for some time after the exercise. And I probably would NOT do this technique right before driving or operating heavy equipment. I would even suggest that anyone who suffers from mental disorders should talk to their doctor before trying this out. It’s that powerful for me. I have no idea if this will be helpful for anyone else. This may also work better if other forms of brain retraining are used first for a period of time, and you may want to change the wording to suit you. Try at own risk!
HAMR for MCS
First, recall the “safe space” that you created (mentioned in my previous post, and explained quite well in this video, but you don’t do the butterfly hug while doing the HAMR exercise… I suppose one could, but it would be difficult with only two arms!). Visualize it until you can feel the strong, positive feelings. This feeling is to be used in the exercise as the “NEW” thought and you should be able to conjure up this “safe space” and all the good feelings that come with it for the exercise.
I drink a big glass of water before and after this one, I find I get really thirsty. Using the base exercise found in the HAMR Starter Program, I begin with Lesson 3 and work down to Lesson 11. I replace the “CASE” thought and the “NEW” thought in the sample lessons as follows:
CASE thought: This includes all perfumes, fragrances, fabric softeners, cleaners, paints etc that trigger reactions. The exercise can also be done with one item at a time. For instance, I did it with cinnamon, which for some reason I’d been reacting to and never had before.
NEW thought: This is the feeling you get from your “Safe Space.”
Here is how I do it. Please refer to the HAMR Starter Program if necessary for diagrams.
Holding hands out, palms up.
1. Imagine NEW thought (Safe Place–stay with it as long as you need to in order to evoke a really good feeling)) in left hand
2. Imagine NEW thought in right hand
3. Imagine CASE thought (perfumes etc that trigger reactions) in right hand
4. Imagine CASE thought in left hand
5. Imagine CASE thought in right hand
6. Imagine NEW thought in left hand
7. Pretend that the NEW reaches over and spills in the CASE hand.
8. Pretend that the CASE reaches over and spills in the NEW hand. (My note: At this point I not only spill the one hand into the other, I shake them up as if I was shaking a pair of dice; this seems to work well for my brain.)
9. Imagine CASE thought in left hand
10. Imagine NEW thought in right hand
11. Pretend that the NEW reaches over and spills in the CASE hand.
12. Pretend that the CASE reaches over and spills in the NEW hand.
13. Imagine the PAST thought (choose something simple, positive or neutral in your past, to activate the part of the brain used for recall) in right hand
14. Imagine the PAST thought in left hand
15. Imagine the FUTURE thought (a simple thought of your future health and vitality) in right hand
16. Imagine the FUTURE thought in left hand
17. Imagine the PRESENT thought (look quickly at your surroundings) in right hand
18. Imagine the PRESENT thought in left hand
19. Quickly imagine PAST in right then left hand
20. Quickly imagine FUTURE in right then left hand
21. Quickly imagine PRESENT in right then left hand
22. Slide one hand under the other and press both hands into chest. Hold hands against chest for a few minutes and let your brain reorganize healthy neurons. Focus on your “safe space” if you find it helpful.
That’s the whole process. I’d be interested if anyone else finds it helpful. I’ve been doing this once or twice a day at the most. I found a startling reduction in my reactions the next day. In fact, what I noticed even most is how “normal” and free I felt. The positive effects are still accruing for me.
[Note: I’ve been playing with it in the past few weeks and have noticed it is much more effective if I skip the steps 19-21 since they seem redundant to me, and I want to stay as close to the good feeling of the “safe space” as I can. I also should note here that when I get to the part of invoking the “safe space” feeling into the hands, I stay with that safe space until I can really feel the good feeling. This is important. And I have a theory on why this works (at least for me):
By evoking the good feeling (especially of love and safety), and then by “spilling” it symbolically into the other hand (which contains items that typically cause reactions) and mixing them, I am training my brain to associate these items with the good feeling. The brain cannot travel along two divergent paths at the same time, so it chooses the easiest one–the good feeling. This exercise has proved to completely remove the negative reaction I used to get from chemical products and fragrances. As each day goes by, the effect is strengthened.]
On top of the positive effect this exercise has had on my recovery, I am using it to neutralize all kinds of negative thoughts and beliefs I have long felt no control over. There are some false beliefs about myself that no matter how hard I have tried to talk myself out of, I couldn’t shake them. But after only using the HAMR technique a few times I have completely neutralized them! What a terrific tool.
If anyone tries any of these techniques, I hope it works for you. I’d love to hear how you’re doing, or if you have any suggestions or tips on how you’ve accelerated your own healing.
Some people may be reading this with the misinterpretation that I am saying MCS is psychological, “all in our heads,” something that can be fixed by talking to a good shrink and taking some meds. I am 100% not saying this at all. I understand that people with MCS have been fighting this misnomer for years. I know first hand that this illness causes real, sometimes debilitating and deadly physiological problems. I want to reiterate what EMDR therapist Robin Shapiro wrote on her website about treating MCS with EMDR:
“…new research has shown that MCS can be caused by a “kindling” in the brain. It’s not psychological. It’s more like a reflex or phantom limb pain.”
Brain retraining is not simply changing how we think or feel, as if it was that easy to cure my MCS. Brain retraining is a very methodical, repetitive process that changes the neurology in the brain. I don’t believe this can be done by simple talk therapy. I can’t imagine that people suffering from phantom limb pain could “think” their way out of the pain. In the case of phantom limb pain, an original trauma causes the impaired neurology, which results in the phantom limb pain. Brain retraining changes the neurology and the pain vanishes. Similarly, I believe that we need to “fix” our neurological impairment caused by the original trauma, and we can also do that by retraining our brains. There are many methods out there to facilitate this. Robin Shapiro and EMDR, Annie Hopper with her DNRS, Ashok Gupta with his ART, and also those of us discovering other techniques are all pioneers in brain retraining for MCS. People are being healed of their neurological impairments and are becoming MCS-free, thanks to new applications of neuroplasticity. I am one of them.