The End of Back Pain (As You Know It) eBook Coming Soon!

In the late 1990’s I started writing a book on the causes and remedies of a type of back pain that affects upwards of 80% of people who suffer from the condition. This most common type of back pain is easy to understand and with patience and consistent effort, it can resolve. It’s taken me nearly two decades, but I’m now back at my computer committed to finally finishing the eBook. If you or anyone you know suffers from chronic low back pain, you’ll want to read and share this post. The following is an excerpt from the eBook that tells the story of my back pain history.

My Back Pain History
I believe it imperative to tell you about my own back pain experiences so you can appreciate and trust that my knowledge of this subject runs deeper than what is possible to learn through books and clinical practice alone.

My back has hurt countless times, sometimes very intensely. Just a few years before colleagues and I developed this program, my back often hurt chronically, for months and even years at a time. I experienced much anguish and frustration as a result. If you have a long standing back condition, be assured I have compassion for what you’re going through, and I want you to feel better as soon as possible. Life’s too short to spend years hurting and not knowing why, or worse yet, what to do about it.

I was 20 years old and into my 5th week of Marine Corps Officer’s Candidate School when I first experienced low back pain. One day our training involved repeatedly bending and lifting other candidates onto our backs and then hustling across an open, pock-marked mine field. That activity heralded the beginning my back issues. This first, intense, short-lived bout of back pain lasted for only about two weeks.

Before I knew it, half-a-dozen years intervened, and I experienced more back pain of a similar nature. Despite the pain, I continued to exercise. I remember lifting weights and practicing Taekwondo karate, and although I tried to discover a pattern, I couldn’t seem to attribute my back pain to any particular activity. It seemed like it would just start for no reason; the causes remained unknown to me. Because of the seemingly random nature of the problem, when it hurt badly, it felt out of control. I was at its mercy. The pain, coupled with my confusion, was maddening. At the time, I was in my middle 20’s and enjoyed being active. I needed to work too, but at least two or three times a year, sometimes for a couple of months at a time, I was totally out of commission because of my pain.

It was for this reason and the fact that I was always injuring myself in Taekwondo, that I developed an interest in physical therapy. I wanted to learn how to take care of my body so I would not have to suffer from so much pain all the time.

Very soon after starting physical therapy school I injured my back again. I was 27 years old. This particular incident, I hurt myself while lifting weights. I hurt it “leg pressing” more weight than was reasonable for a person of my size and strength. The pain came on slowly but intensely. After a tough two weeks, the pain diminished but did not cease again for another year and a half.

Of course, as part of my physical therapy education, I was taught many methods and modalities designed to alleviate back pain; nothing I tried seemed to help, however. In fact, most of my attempts at relieving the pain made it worse. At that time, I had no understanding of the real causes or remedies of my pain. Both of my parents had had significant back pain histories; maybe it was genetic? Looking back, I remember feeling disheartened and wondering if I was doomed to live with this pain for the rest of my life.

Once I graduated, the hurting slowly and unaccountably subsided. I had finally recovered from that long episode of back pain. You would think that I should have regarded that favorable circumstance positively. I did not. Because I did not yet understand what the causes or the cures of my pain were, I reasoned that it was only a matter of time before I’d injure my back again. Furthermore, working as a physical therapist and not possessing the requisite knowledge to help most back pain patients was a source of great anxiety for me, the only solace was that most every other medical professional I knew was as equally perplexed as I was.

For these reasons, I was compelled to learn more about this puzzling condition. I read many books and took a lot of professional continuing education on the subject. After a particularly disappointing weekend class on another type of back pain therapy (read: bogus!) my frustration peaked and I honestly considered closing my practice and changing professions. But as providence would have it, my quest for answers to the questions of back pathology, diagnosis, and treatment was fulfilled. In January of 1996, I met my teacher, Omer Matthijs, DSc., PT, MOMT, and my orthopedic education took off under his tutelage.

Omer taught me to see the spine as a system of interdependent parts which are subject to an age-related process of degeneration. As the spine ages, certain parts may wear excessively and therefore, sometimes cause pain. If one understands the process, and then acts to mitigate the stresses that might exacerbate or accelerate it, the condition can stabilize and more often than not, heal and feel better. Under Omer guidance, I started to connect the dots between the causes of particular back pain conditions and the subsequent cures. After Omer’s tutelage and following his advice, over a year passed in which I felt no back pain.

It was the spring of 1997. I was 36 years old. One morning as I was getting ready for work, I bent down to pick up my cat’s food dish when I felt a little “twinge” in my back. Two hours later I could not stand up straight and was in a lot of pain. Although the pain was familiar, there was something different about this episode. This time, for the first time, I understood what was going on in my back. This time I was not afraid. Instead, I was inquisitive, wondering how the course of this incident would respond to my new informed treatment approach.

May 6th, 2016. Squating 225 Pounds!

I went to work that day, and aside from strictly applying the movement patterns that I will teach you, I didn’t change a thing. I even decided to go out for a short two-mile jog the day after my pain started. Astonishingly, especially to me, within four days I was completely pain-free again!

Because of what I’ve learned, and how I apply this knowledge in my own life, my back pain episodes have decreased from about 3 per year to maybe one minor bout every two or more years. The way my back feels now (strong, stable, no pain), compared to what it’s felt like in the past (weak, touchy and painful), represents a triumph over a condition that disables more people in the industrial world than any other.

Had it not been for this approach, you might still include me with those unfortunate many who continue to suffer. And as for the emotional anguish I experienced in the past, well, I recognize that on rare occasions I might feel a little back discomfort, but I also know its source, how to treat it well, and that it won’t last. As a result, I have no fear and therefore no emotional distress. This peace of mind and sense of control are the real jewels hidden within this approach.

No one can prevent every episode of back pain. That is not what this program promises. What it does say, however, is that if one acquaints oneself with the causes and cures of back pain, and, skillfully applies the proposed treatment regimen, your experience with this condition should not get worse (as is currently the norm for chronic back pain sufferers through the age of 60). But rather, your situation can improve significantly, as measured by your pain’s intensity and duration, and the frequency of occurrences. If you don’t have an extreme pathology (see RED FLAGS), and put forth the necessary effort, it is not hyperbole to suggest that this program can teach you how to create the causes for healing whereby you will eventually develop a healthy, fit, and pain-free back again.

I’ve ended my back pain, and thankfully, I can now say that my patients recover faster, more completely, and with fewer reoccurrences as well; that’s the real validating proof of the efficacy of this program.

If you would like to receive periodic excerpts and updates on the progress of this eBook, please subscribe to this blog and email me at Put “End Back Pain” in the subject line.

John Oliver Critisizes the Pharmaceutical Industry Over America’s Overwhelming Opioid Epidemic

Please watch John Oliver deliver a harsh rebuke of the pharmaceutical industry for its dishonest marketing of opiate-based pain medications. But the problem is even bigger than that. The healthcare system our doctors work in only permits seven minutes per patient visit. How could our doctors do anything else but prescribe a pill with so little time? Our medical system is the most expensive in the world, and, simultaneously, delivers the least value for that money when compared to other first world nations.

Be forewarned that he does get political and is crude at times. I think these issues do deserve attention, however.


About HSP’s — Highly Sensitive People

My wife Lynda and I just watched a fascinating documentary titled: Sensitive – The Untold Story. It turns out, the genetic trait of high sensitivity is found in 20% of the population. It is found equally in men and women and in over 100 animal species. The scientific term for the trait is SPS or Sensory Processing Sensitivity. This trait is not a disorder, but it does pose challenges for people who possess it, as well as those with whom they live.

What SPS means is, certain people are more tuned into subtly of words, emotions, environments, threats, meaning, sounds, beauty, loss, poignancy, world events, human suffering, the list goes on. On other words, the brains of highly sensitive people (HSP) not only process more information, but they also process it more deeply. High sensitivity can be a blessing or a curse. Because practically speaking, HSP’s feel more. So their emotions are not only more keen and profound, sometimes they’re more gripping. For this reason, HSP’s can get easily overstimulated in environments that are chaotic, loud, or otherwise intense. Overstimulation is the challenging aspect of this trait, both for the HSP and for those with whom they live. I imagine many stress-related illnesses – addictions, depression, chronic pain, anxiety disorders, and more – are correlated with HSP.

Mark as a babyI am a highly sensitive person. I even joked about it in my guided meditation booklet when I wrote:

“When I was a kid, I don’t remember people thinking that I was spoiled, but I do remember being overly sensitive. I would throw a fit if there were wrinkles in socks when my mom put on my shoes. I’ve always liked things to be just so. I can recall my Dad even telling me to “unfuss myself.” So I guess that’s my life’s journey, learning to accept and allow.”

Being an HSP has been a journey – an educational one – where I’ve had to learn about myself. Learning to meditate and be more mindful has been a big part of that journey. Since I started meditating, my sensitivity has not toned down. Rather, it’s even stronger than ever. But the remarkably positive difference now is in the quality of my sensitivity. I’m no longer reactively sensitive, throwing a fit when I get tired, hungry, uncomfortable, or otherwise when circumstances don’t go my way. Instead, now, I can sit for extended periods of time, experiencing relative discomfort with composure. I’m still sensitive, but now, I’m groundedly sensitive. That’s the blessing that makes all the difference. I now know how to open up and have complete experiences, riding the waves of energy around me. In this way, I can experience the fullness of my gift for sensitivity without it throwing me into an emotional tailspin. The blessed gift of grounded sensitivity heightens one’s senses, and that, in turn, makes life more precious. If you are an HSP, you have the potential to make the shift from reactive to grounded sensitivity yourself. If you need support, I’m here to help.

If you think you’re an HSP, let us know. Add your comment to this post. We want to hear your stories. Also, if you know other HSP’s, share this post with them. They want to know they’re not alone.



How to Heal Addictions with Mindfulness–In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts (Post 2)

In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts Cover

Welcome back to our review of Gabor Mate’s Book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. I want to share a few bits from Chapter 3. Specifically, the premise that Dr. Mate puts forth that addiction is a “flight from distress.” He’s very explicit. “Far more than a quest for pleasure, chronic substance use is the addict’s attempts to escape distress.” What he’s saying is this, addicts are compelled to use substances and engage in behaviors in order to feel better. More often than not, in the background, there’s some painful circumstance or condition.  

AddictDepression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD and or any number of other chronic stress-related conditions push an addict to seek relief in their drug of choice or in medicating behaviors. Interestingly, Mate points out that the same brain circuits that feel physical pain are also active during experiences of emotional pain. ‘When people speak of feeling emotional pain, they are being quite accurate.’ Mate states very strongly that ‘hurt’ is at the center of all addictive behaviors.

In my next post we’ll explore the hallmarks of addiction.

For those readers who would like to go deeper, way deeper, check out the work of Eric Garland.

Feel free to comment and ask questions. If these posts are helpful to you, please share them with you social networks.

Learning to Unfuss Your Self

Mark as a baby When I was a kid, I don’t remember people thinking that I was spoiled, but I do remember being overly sensitive. If there were wrinkles in socks when my mom put on my shoes I would throw a holy fit. I’ve always liked things to be just so. I can recall my Dad even telling me to “unfuss myself.” So I guess that’s my life’s journey, learning to accept and allow.

I want to be as transparent as I can; just because I meditate does not mean that I’m a very highly realized person. Like you, I’m doing my best, and any spiritual growth I may achieve comes with effort, patience, and practice. I know that if I don’t engage in my daily spiritual practice, the peace and happiness I currently enjoy might slowly fade and I could turn fussy again.

Mark 44 years oldLike a lot of people, my journey to self-discovery began with a painful “bottoming-out” experience. This experience was so potent that it rocked me to the core. The cliff notes version is that I had a thriving business, a title, and a healthy income stream; basically my life and identity seemed solid and unshakable. Then, within a very short time it all collapsed. Afterwards, I was depressed, scared, and furious! I was forced to deal with powerful emotions that I’d never felt before. As a result, my health deteriorated quickly, and I was given a fist full of pills to cope with the intense emotions and the stress-related illnesses (insomnia, depression, chronic pain, anxiety, addictions, and more) that arose in the wake of those emotions.

It took me a couple of years to realize that the pills wouldn’t (and couldn’t) heal me. Looking back, it’s clear why not. I could not stop my mind from replaying my trauma over and over. It was like being stuck in the self-made movie theater of my mind, forced to watch the saddest, most scary and maddening film ever produced, and the one where I was cast as the main character. And, I had no idea how to get up and walk out of the theater.

Mark at 48 years oldThen, as grace would have it, I learned to meditate, and my life began to change for the better. Meditation taught me to watch the mind-made movie. It helped me to separate myself from that drama. More importantly, I could see that “I” was not the main character in the drama. Instead, I learned to identify with the quiet still space of the mind. Like existing only as the “Space” inside “the theater.” That shift from identification with the self, to identification with the “Space,” changed everything. In Buddhism, they have a funny saying, it goes: “no self, no problem.” Jesus communicated a similar sentiment when he told his followers to “deny the self.” I’m calling it “unfussing the self.”

I’ve created a 13-month program, that comes with a book and 40-guided meditations. It will teach you how to dis-identify or unfuss yourself too! When you do, your life will change for the better. Also, I tell my clients that ‘I come with the program.’ Meaning, if you need support, just contact me. I want you to be happy. For more information on the program, check out the Courses section of the website.

Many well wishes,