David Robert Jones, MS LPC

Pain, Numbing, and Welcoming Presence (26)

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Today, I went to the dentist and found out that I had a tooth that needed to be drilled out for a crown. It’s my first crown - of any kind :-).

After the x-rays and all the prep work, it was time for all of the local anesthetics. The doctor poked me in just the right spot inside the left side of my mouth and said to wait a bit and I’d feel the tingling and numbing.

10 minutes went by and I could still feel my tongue and mouth and lips and cheeks as if nothing had happened.

He administered several more injections. 

This time, I felt a strange burning sensation go up to my left ear.

And I noticed my body responding in a familiar way.

 I felt the effects of the local anesthetic begin to numb the areas, and it was like a balloon filling with air, containing the air, holding the air. But then a wave of electrical energy swept through my body and into those areas and all the air went out of the balloon. 

The sensation was that the area became very porous again and I felt my tongue and mouth and lips and cheeks as if nothing had happened.

Another 10 minutes or so. 


Two more injections, and this time the doctor and his assistant were getting pretty interested in whatever was happening. 

As soon as I felt the numbing sensation, another wave of electric, lively energy pulsed through my body and the area became porous and open and not at all numb. 

By this time, I had a sense of what might be happening.

You see, one of the effects of my TBI was that I had a lot of neuropathy on my left side of my body, particularly the left side of my face and my left hand.

As someone who seems to get most of the side-effects in the small print on medications, I had to find other ways to deal with both the neuropathy and other pains and symptoms in the body.

One of the doors into healing was through yoga nidra, particularly iRest Yoga Nidra, where I learned how to welcome sensations and their opposites, how to become micro-attuned to the sensations of the body, and how to allow the healing light of Welcoming Presence into areas that were both numb and experiencing many levels of discomfort. 

Later, when I learned Amrit Yoga Nidra, I found even deeper stores of energy waiting to shine their presence and healing power on areas that were dark and numb and unresponsive.

Gradually, during those years, as I moved awareness around the body, I began to experience the neuropathy lifting and, at any point in time, could notice something (I can’t really say what in words, but I feel it) that would send intense shock waves through the body, enlivening cells, loosening constriction, and lifting pressure. I learned how to “micro-dose” these waves of electrical impulses and this practice has been a significant part of my healing, particularly with the neuropathy in my left side of my face.

So, it is of little surprise, now that I think about it, that as soon as my body felt sensations of numbing, it moved into automaticity mode and neutralized whatever effects the local anesthetics were supposed to have.

As the sensation of numbness met the electrical impulses of light, the chemicals felt like they were dispersed throughout the body and ultimately ended up in my gut. That was the felt sensation.

After the fourth round of anesthetics, the doctor and I began to talk about what was happening and I asked him to explain how the local anesthetics were designed to work. 

In addition to Yoga Nidra, I spent several years working with a very gifted neuropsychologist who is also an advanced practitioner of Eriksonian Hypnosis. 

For my migraines, I would have him walk me through the anatomy of the brain, inviting the areas of the brain to work optimally, visualizing, and allowing the creative unconscious to come up with solutions beyond the abilities of the thinking mind. 

Today, my sense was that if I knew what the physiological effects of the anesthetics were intended to be, I could work with my body to allow them, to relax into them, and to welcome the numbing.

I was blown away when the doctor explained how anesthetics like lidocaine work:  

“Local anesthetics, such as lidocaine, block nerve transmission to pain centers in the central nervous system by binding to and inhibiting the function of an ion channel in the cell membrane of nerve cells known as the sodium channel.”

Binding. Inhibiting. 


My felt experience was that the body was automatically unbinding and un-inhibiting the agents as soon as it noticed their presence and pressure, as evidenced with the balloon visualization.

So, with this information, we decided to try more local anesthetic. 

I spoke silently to my body: “I am safe with myself. I allow the anesthetic to temporarily numb this area. I relax and release. I am safe with myself.”

Two or three injections later, we decided to move on. 

My mouth was numb, but nothing like what I used to experience from local anesthetics.

And, as soon as the drill got very deep, there was what you might call intense sensation.

The doctor checked in, realized that the nerve was still quite active, and we decided to just move on with the procedure. 

As I noticed pain impulses from the nerve endings, I also noticed arising in the body sensations of ease and peace. In particular, the webbing between the big toe and second toe on my right foot was a very quiet, pain-less, peaceful, part of the body that I would soak my attention in while also noticing the sensations of pain pinging upstairs in the head. 

Richard Miller, the founder of iRest Yoga Nidra, says, “Psychological, physical, and spiritual integration unfolds naturally when we cease trying to rid ourselves of our experience and instead open to the full spectrum of opposites.” (Yoga Nidra, p. 76. 2022).

Working with opposites, I would invite both sensations into awareness at the same time and then I would be daydreaming about something until my mind would come on and say, “Hey! Isn’t this supposed to be excruciating?”  

To which the body would reply, “I’m not sure what you call it, but it is present. And, also present is such and such and such…Feel…Feel…Feel...”

As the doctor and his assistant were finishing, they remarked that my gums looked as though they had barely even been touched even though they had been worked over really hard. And, not only was there no hemorrhaging, they had not bled at all.

After we finished the procedure, I got into my vehicle and began the drive home. What anesthetic there was that remained in the mouth, dissipated quite quickly and the rest of the day has been spent noticing the intensity of the nerve ending that is hiding under the temporary crown. 

The sensation is quite warm and, since I had a number of major dental procedures as a teen, there are some powerful stories connected to the sensation.

Tonight, on my walk, I noticed the past and future-oriented state of the mind and pointed my attention to simply feeling the sensation that was present. Moving into its center. Feeling its perimeter and boundaries. Noticing opposite sensations arising. 

And, like so many times in the years and years of post-TBI recovery, I felt as though I were in an ocean of peace and ease, that all is well.

When the thinking mind is at work telling the stories, the pain saturates my attention in the same way a cup of salt saturates a glass of water.

When I move into feeling and being in the present, the pain is much more like that same cup of salt being poured into a giant body of the freshest water you can imagine. 

It is present, but it is not dominating. 

Even while writing, I have felt the vacillations of the sensation of pain in the body as I move from thinking about it and writing about it to feeling it and welcoming it as Welcoming Presence.

I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am for these practices, for my teachers, and that I get to pass them on to others.

They aren’t ways to get out of life.

In fact, they teach us how to be with life as it is as we are.

As Miller says, “Welcoming is an essential movement of your innate, nondual Essential Nature. While at first you may believe that ‘you’ are the one ‘doing’ welcoming, you eventually recognize that Welcoming is your Essential Nature” (p. 77).

Today was another day of experiencing this truth firsthand.



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