Vicky Vlachonis

At the beginning of my career, when I first opened my practice, I focused exclusively on immediate physical pain relief. I saw patients with sprains and torn ligaments, muscle spasms, chronic lower back pain, neck pain, broken toes, fractured collar bones, severe menstrual cramps, labor pain, blinding migraines . . . you name it. I used a variety of treatments—massage, spinal adjustments, cranial sacral therapy, acupuncture—to soothe their pain, and all claimed to feel much better. But the moment those patients walked out of my office, I lost the ability to relieve their pain. I soon learned that whatever my patients did between sessions had a much greater impact on their health and the degree of pain they endured than the hour they spent with me.

That’s what inspired me to develop this program. Through many, many years of careful observation and experimentation, I developed a self-guided program that mirrors the process and the effects of the treatments patients receive in my office. The Positive Feedback program taps the very same physiological and psychological mechanisms of each of my modalities, triggering the same biochemical responses that I get from acupuncture, massage, reflexology—every trick and technique I use to short-circuit the Negative Feedback cycle. In these pages, I share the same three-week program my patients have used successfully to end their pain and suffering and discover a newfound energy and radiance. I’ve seen, again and again, how this three-step process—Reflect, Release, Radiate—can help people break out of their pain.

During Week 1: Reflect, you’ll step back and look at the whole picture of your life: What’s already working? What still needs work? Where did your current pain begin? The information you gather in week 1 helps you face the reality of your current physical state, giving you critical data that you can use to formulate your personal Positive Feedback plan going forward.

To prepare yourself for your transformation, you’ll begin the week by firmly committing to the daily foundation the entire plan rests upon: at least seven hours of quality, restorative sleep and the Morning Glory ritual. Once you’ve started, you’ll do these steps each day of the three weeks (and hopefully for the rest of your life).

You’ll begin the Morning Glory ritual with a glass of warm water with lemon (more on this in chapter 4), tapping lemon’s power to counter the inflammation in your body, regenerate the liver, and flush out any impurities in the gut. The smell of lemon alone wakes up my mind and lightens my spirit. You’ll hear me reference this warm water with lemon very often because I think of it as my Positive Feedback talisman: No matter where I am, what kind of negativity I’m facing, everything gets better the moment I prepare and drink my warm water with lemon, my go-to mental reset button.

Next you’ll do gentle Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation exercises, to encourage lymphatic drainage and bloodflow throughout the body. You’ll follow a very simple but specific bathing ritual, and learn a simple gratitude meditation that helps you learn to trick the nay-saying voices and talk back to them. Then you’ll finish your Morning Glory routine with a nourishing breakfast, to stoke your metabolism and give your muscles the lean protein they need for sustained energy during the day.

All very simple, pleasurable, restorative steps that I hope you’ll enjoy and repeat for the rest of your days. (In fact, if you retain only one part of the Positive Feedback program, I believe that this daily ritual alone could make a radical difference in your life.)

Throughout week 1, your Reflect phase, you will also complete several exercises that will help you to think back on your personal journey and locate the source of your pain. You’ll learn how to deliberately construct mental scripts that build you up instead of tear you down. You’ll create a timeline of your body’s life story, taking stock of the physical and mental pain you’ve endured. You’ll take an inventory of your time usage and your eating habits, so you can clearly trace the time-and energy-depleters in your life as you currently lead it. You’ll get the full picture of where you are now, how you got there, and what you’re ready to release.

Once you’ve gathered all this critical information, you’ll move on to Week 2: Release. This is the moment when you will finally let all that negativity go. With very conscious and deliberate steps—involving a specific diet, exercise, and lifestyle-detoxing program—you will tap into your body’s Adaptive Response to clean out everything that’s been holding you back and dragging you down. You’ll flush the accumulated tension and pain out of your muscles and the toxins from your liver. You’ll reboot your endocrine system, encouraging optimal hormonal balance to return. Allowing the blood to flow easily and effortlessly through your body, you’ll let go of all the inflammatory chemicals, the lingering residue of all those years of hiding from your hurt, pain, and regret. In this Release phase, you’ll clear out your system, turning back the clock on your body and your mind so that you can grow stronger in the spots you always thought were broken. Your catharsis will help you see very clearly that pain is and always has been your greatest teacher.

Once your Release phase is complete, you’ll be ready for Week 3: Radiate. All the work you’ve done in the first two weeks will help you reveal a purer sense of gratitude for the gifts of your life. With specific meditations and visualizations, you’ll stimulate your brain to reroute neural patterns away from those negative voices that no longer serve you and toward those that give you courage, strength, and boldness. Expanding from the detox of week 2, you’ll learn a new way of eating that you’ll continue for the rest of your life: a diet composed of delicious fish and roasted organic meats, seasonal organic vegetables, berries bursting off the vine, goat’s-milk yogurt, savory nuts and seeds—all anti-inflammatory, brain-boosting foods designed by nature to help tamp down the debilitating processes that drive most chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Now that you’ve made Tibetan Rites a daily habit and have added some gentle yoga and relaxing walks to your day—activities that taught you to move your body in a way that loosens up accumulated pain and tension—you’ll start to plan for new physical and mental challenges that extend your transformation and the power of your Adaptive Response.

The Radiate stage is the time for planning for the future, reigniting passions you may have abandoned, deciding how you want to share this new glow of joy and gratitude with the world in everything you do—how you move, how you think, how you talk, how you eat, how you pray or give thanks (and yes, most definitely, how you look). By the end of week 3, your entire being will start to radiate, from the inside out, and you’ll be looking toward the future with anticipation and eagerness to see where the path takes you next.

The Positive Feedback Promise

As you make these gentle, incremental changes, your body will start to climb out of the Negative Feedback spiral. You’ll notice this movement in big and small ways. Maybe you’ll sleep more soundly and wake up refreshed for the first time in months. Maybe you’ll get compliments on how shiny your hair is, or how glowing your skin and eyes look. (“Did you lose weight? You look about ten years younger!”)

Maybe you’ll unearth your yoga mat and look up some new classes at the studio in town. Or start thinking about your long-abandoned business plan, or your dream of starting a community center. Your brain will feel sharp and quick—you’ll laugh a good, deep belly laugh with a friend. These are all signs that you’re starting to undergo biochemical changes that allow your mind to let go of old hurts and your body to more easily tap into its innate Adaptive Response.

As your inflammation decreases and you relieve your physical pain, you will feel more mobile and free. Your body will want to move: Suddenly you’re going hiking and dancing. You’re chasing your kids around the backyard and running behind their bicycles. Grocery shopping, socializing, getting through the piles at work—suddenly, everything seems easier. You’ve done it: You’ve fully entered into Positive Feedback! Your Adaptive Response is thriving once more, waiting for new challenges and new growth. Stick with your program, and these changes will continue to build upon themselves, allowing you to get stronger and stronger, keeping you pain-free for longer and longer periods of time.

I will be with you, walking you step by step through this entire process. As we go, I’ll give you specific and practical suggestions for bathing, eating, drinking, exercising, meditation, and introspection—rituals and exercises that progressively build on each other and pull you toward ever-greater moments of strength and clarity. Take what you need, and leave what doesn’t suit you now for another day—but know that, as I’ve seen with my patients, the more aspects of the program you choose to follow, the more dramatic your results will be.

Along the way, I will do the following:

• Explain how you can use your body’s own trigger points to release negative energy, feel more relaxed, and improve your mood right away
• Share groundbreaking research about how quality sleep activates your brain’s innate waste disposal system, whisking out toxic buildup that causes sluggish thinking and giving you a nightly anti-aging treatment.
• Provide recipes and shopping lists full of delicious healing foods that take little time to prepare but leave you satisfied and full of energy
• Teach you a five-minute dry-brushing regimen that will speed lymphatic drainage, make your skin glow, and help you to release toxins
• Guide you through visualizations and affirmations that help bring positive, protective energy into your life
• Share meditations that have been shown to reduce chronic pain levels by up to 57 percent
• Show you the physical evidence of the direct relationship your emotions have with your nervous system and your organs
• Explain how the Positive Feedback plan will have a long-lasting and powerful impact on the response of those systems and organs—a response that has been proven to help you live a longer, happier, and radiantly healthy life

If you’ve been struggling with pain for a long time, you’ve probably seen several doctors. You know that the symptom-by- symptom, specialist-by-specialist Western medicine approach, where everyone is focused on one overtaxed organ or one magic neurotransmitter, simply doesn’t work. No doctor will ever be able to find the one right thing that will solve every single kind of pain: The one thing simply doesn’t exist. Your body’s history is complex—many systems have been working as one, reacting and readjusting to every experience, always learning and changing. But what you can start to do is see patterns—patterns in yourself, in your family, in your body.

No matter where you are right now, you can stop the pain cycle the moment you take the very first, smallest step. As you move through each stage, you will come to understand, beyond any doubt, that the mind and body are not just connected—they are one—and that pain is a clear message that cannot and should not be ignored or medicated away.

Wherever you are now, whatever pain you’re feeling, the Positive Feedback plan will help you. You’ll learn how to sketch out your own big picture so that you can start to heal yourself. You’ll design a unique program to trigger your own Positive Feedback using everything you are—your anxieties, your cravings, your fears, your dreams, your passions. Perhaps most important, you will gain the strength to tackle the truth. Secure in your own skin, you will release the pain, once and for all, and finally move forward, with courage, with joy, and with radiance.

What is the story your body is telling you right now?

What is the story you would like to tell?

Then let’s get started.