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The Best Free Apps for Migraine and Chronic Pain Relief

If you’re not familiar with self-hypnosis, let me assure you that it is nothing like what’s shown in horror films. No matter how skilled the therapist, meditation leader, or professional hypnotist, hypnosis meditations cannot make you do anything you do not wish to. I’ve heard of self-hypnosis for many things — weight loss, quitting smoking, reducing anxiety — and I’ve used self-hypnosis CDs for increasing creativity and maintaining an exercise program. It wasn’t until the advent of smartphones, however, that I found self-hypnosis meditations which actually reduced my chronic migraine pain. Two of the finest self-hypnosis meditation apps for pain relief which I use regularly are Migraine & Headache Relief  and Chronic Pain Relief, both by Surf City Apps. These two apps are the best I’ve found for reducing chronic pain.

Founded in 2012, Surf City Apps produces professionally scripted hypnosis apps with professional background audio. Each script is read by a certified clinical hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy instructor; the same person narrates both the Migraine Relief and the Chronic Pain Relief meditations: I find her voice and delivery calming and relaxing. I often fall asleep when listening to these meditations, but even when I cannot sleep because of insomnia, either as a symptom of the migraine itself or from its accompanying pain, I play these apps on a low volume continuously, and they help significantly reduce the pain level.

The meditations in these apps are not hidden by music, are clearly audible, and the free versions contain the exact same narration as the Pro versions. That means you can listen to the free versions and hear absolutely everything that is said in the paid versions. Since you can listen to the entire self-hypnosis narration free, I advise you to listen to both Migraine Relief and Chronic Pain Relief as long as you want to determine which best helps reduct your pain. These are only a few differences between the free and the paid versions of these apps, and none of those differences concerns the actual content of the self-hypnosis meditation itself.

*Please note that because these are self-hypnosis meditations which may make you fall asleep, you should never listen to these apps while driving or operating dangerous machinery.*

Migraine & Headache Relief
Self-Hypnosis & Meditation
by Surf City Apps

After guiding your through some imagery and breathing exercises to induce relaxation, the Migraine & Headache Relief self-hypnosis meditation tells you to image the pain in your head as a color, which you choose yourself. Then, you image a faucet at your ear closest to the pain, and the meditation guides you through turning on the faucet and letting the pain drain safely out through the faucet. You are then given some suggestions for safely “disposing” of the pain and encouraged to replace the now-empty space previously occupied by the pain with the color you image from another body part that does not give you pain.

Download Migraine & Headache Relief free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, or from GooglePlay for Android devices. Though I’ve never used Migraine & Headache Relief on an ordinary headache, I always use it during a migraine attack. It significantly reduces the pain, especially when I combine it with Surf City Apps’ Chronic Pain Relief.

Chronic Pain Relief
Self-Hypnosis & Meditation
by Surf City Apps

After guiding your through some imagery and breathing exercises to encourage relaxation, the Chronic Pain Relief self-hypnosis meditation instructs you to image a pain-relieving liquid, which acts like novocaine, coming from a faucet. You are instructed to determine the color, viscosity, and temperature of the liquid. You are guided through the steps of placing your hand under the running faucet, and feeling the numbness and relief caused by the liquid. You are then told to put your hand on any part of your body that is in pain. You image that liquid penetrating all the tissues of your body in order to relieve pain and promote healing. Afterward, you image the liquid returning to your hand so that you can return it to the basin below the faucet where you “release” it. If you experience pain in large areas of your body, you are guided through imagery where you bathe or shower in the pain-relieving liquid and are thereby comforted.

Download Chronic Pain Relief free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App store for iOS devices, and from GooglePlay for Android devices. The Chronic Pain app relieves a great deal of chronic pain, and it definitely helps with the severe pain of migraine attacks as well, which is why I alternate the apps when I’m in severe pain.

SurfCity App Controls

The controls are identical in all versions (free and paid, across all app topics) of the Surf City apps and are very easy to use. The settings are relatively self-explanatory, though some brief descriptions are sometimes included, as in the definition of what Hypnotic Booster does.

 

The Differences Between the Free and Pro App
There are ads in the free version as well as limitations to the app controls. The Pro (paid) version costs a one-time fee ($1.99-3.99, depending on the particular app), and the paid version allows you to turn off the audio instructions (which help you relax your body but do not specifically have anything to do with relieving pain) at the beginning of the narration, to disable Awaken at End (allowing you to stay asleep if you are using it at night and happen to fall asleep), and to repeat the narration 1-3 times or to loop it so it continues until you shut the app down. These controls alone are certainly worth the money if you want to play the narration all night long or during a migraine attack to keep the pain level down. The paid version also includes a variety of background sounds, (rain, water on beach, etc) and lets you continue listening to your background of choice after the meditation narration ends by delaying the ending of the app’s shut-off. You can choose from 5, 10, 20, or 30 minute delays, or hourly delays from 1-8 hours: during these delays, the self-hypnosis meditation is not playing but the soothing background sounds are, and this might be helpful for promoting sleep and rest during a migraine attack or pain flare-up).

Making Migraine and Chronic Pain Relief
Self-Hypnosis & Meditation Playlists

If you have the Pro (paid) versions of either of these apps, you can Loop them so that they play all night long, although you can only play one meditation at a time. On iOS devices, at least, these two pain relief apps are also available as MP3 versions so you can make playlists. That way you can queue up two different versions and alternate them all night long. Once you’ve downloaded one of the free apps, go to More at the bottom, then scroll past the Pro versions of the self-hypnosis apps down to Our Apps in MP3 Format.

This will then open in the iTunes Store, where you can purchase the MP3 version of what you’re already listening to. For $2.99-4.99 you can buy an “album” which will have the self-hypnosis meditation session in two versions: + Awake instructs you to wake up after listening to the session, the other does not. Both Awake and Sleep versions have the same background music.

The album includes both versions of the self-hypnosis: the daytime, when you are instructed to awaken at the end of the meditation, and the nighttime, where you are not instructed to awaken. When you make a daytime playlist, make sure you put the + Awake versions in the same playlist; for nighttime or nap listening, put the Sleep versions (the ones without + Awake) in the same playlist.

I have the Migraine Relief and the Chronic Pain Relief sleep versions in one playlist, alternating one with the other until I have about 10 hours of playing time, to make sure I don’t get woken up by the hypnosis-meditation shutting off. The day version of this playlist, which alternates Migraine Relief + Awaken with Chronic Pain Relief + Awaken, is only about 5 or 6 hours long, but that’s because I’m awake already and playing it at a very low volume so that I hear it subliminally. Once you’ve listened to the session a few times, you don’t have to actively concentrate on the meditation-hypnosis for it to reduce your pain.

Note: These are self-hypnosis meditations, even in their MP3 versions, and they can make you fall asleep, so don’t listen to these while driving or operating dangerous machinery.

The only thing I don’t like about the MP3 versions of Surf City Apps is that both the Migraine Relief and Chronic Pain Relief have the same, rather repetitive music in the background. Mostly it doesn’t bother me, but sometimes when the pain is really severe, it makes me feel worse: that’s when I turn off the playlist and switch to the app itself; then I listen to one or the other (you can play only than one app at a time), but since I bought the Pro version, I can loop the self-hypnosis meditation to play continuously until I shut it off.

You can check out all Surf City’s free apps on its website. Their apps have been downloaded over 5 million times and average 4+ stars out of 5 for these particular apps. In addition to in-app Support –under Interact > Feedback and Support, where you can read FAQs or send them a message — Surf City is on Twitter and Facebook: they are very responsive to customer questions.

These pain relief self-hypnosis meditation apps may not take your away your migraine or other chronic pain completely, but they do significantly reduce pain for most of their listeners. Even better, since the full meditation is available on the free versions of their apps, you can see which you prefer or simply listen to them both. Either way, you’re bound to feel some relief.

If you have any questions about these apps, or can provide information about these apps on Android devices, you can reach me on Twitter at Alexandria_SZ or at Migraine Mantras. If your questions won’t fit in a tweet, you can contact me by email.

(This post was originally published on MigraineMantras.)

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To Make Cynics of Us All: Devil, the Horror Film

#NoSpoilers

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There is a long history of stories about humans being influenced or tempted to commit evil by some outside being rather than by their own nature. In Christian translations of Genesis chapter 3, a serpent in the Garden of Eden tells the first woman, Eve, that she will not die if she eats the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Her mate, Adam, joins her in eating the fruit, and they do not, in fact, die after eating the fruit: they are only expelled from the Garden of Eden, which stands as a metaphor for their previous innocence of their own disobedient nature. Despite the fact that the serpent told Adam and Eve the truth, the serpent has long been associated with the evil and with the Devil if only because he revealed the evil that already existed in mankind.

In Christian tradition, the Devil is supposedly the absolute incarnation of evil and is completely separate from God, who is ostensibly all powerful, all knowledgeable, and all good. In most stories that follow the Christian tradition, then, meeting the Devil becomes an encounter with evil. Such a meeting may provide the protagonists with an opportunity to learn that all humans contain both good and evil (Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” 1835), to do evil themselves (Washington Irving’s “The Devil and Tom Walker,” 1824, which itself was based on 16th century German legends of Faust) or to resist doing evil, perhaps by outwitting the Devil himself (Stephen Vincent Benét’s “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” 1936).     

Devil, a 2010 American horror film, is based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan, originally written as a “nod to Agatha Christie’s” mystery novel And Then There Were None, where a group of people, each of whom is guilty of something in his past, is trapped in an isolated area and mysteriously dies one at a time. The film’s director John Erick Dowdle changed the original story by adding something he called a “Devil’s Meeting,” which he claims is a based in a legend of the Devil coming to earth to “test evildoers by tormenting them.

I’m not exactly sure why the Devil would “test” evildoers, and I can’t find any outside corroboration for any tales or legends of such devilish tests. Instead, I’d imagine that the Devil would be happy to have humans doing bad things. In The Book of Job, “the adversary” or “the opponent” (ha satan), which is not capitalized, is considered to be merely the opposite side of an argument. In Job, the adversary tests a man who has never encountered adversity in order to test the man’s absolute faith in God. The adversary does not test a man who is already defying God by going against His commandments and committing evil. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the idea of the Devil’s “testing evildoers by tormenting them” makes little theological or philosophical sense, the horror film Devil is actually an intriguing and unsettling suspense film.

Chris Messina (L) and Matt Craven (R ) in Devil © Universal Pictures

After a jumper plunges to his death from an office building, Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) comes to investigate, only to be plunged into another mystery when an elevator stops, trapping 5 people inside. The trapped people include a young woman (Bojana Novakovic) who plans to leave her rich husband and take all his money,

Bojana Novakovic, Devil © Universal Pictures

an older woman (Jenny O’Hara) who is a thief,

Jenny O’Hara, Devil © Universal Pictures

a temporary security guard (Bokeem Woodbine) with a history of violence,

Bokeem Woodbine, Devil © Universal Pictures

a mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green) who intentionally did not sign himself in at the security desk,

Logan Marshall Green, Devil © Universal Pictures

and a sleazy salesman (Geoffrey Arend).

Geoffrey Arend, Devil © Universal Pictures

When the occupants begin to die, police and others begin to suspect a murderer is trapped in the elevator, targeting the other passengers.

Jacob Vargas and Chris Messina, Devil © Universal Pictures

While one of the buildings security guards (Jacob Vargas) is filling Detective Bowden’s ear with ghost stories that his family told him, based on the guard’s belief that he saw something in the elevator on the surveillance video,

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Bowden (with the microphone, below) is desperately trying to determine why someone might want to kill the others passengers trapped in the elevator.

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Some critics and viewers complained that Devil was too short, was while others complained that the story was somewhat convoluted, by which I  think they mean how some of the characters’ stories were ultimately related to those of others. The film does have some minor elements of the supernatural, but they aren’t as important or scary as the psychological aspects of guilt, good, and evil, which involve everyone in the story, even the detectives who are there to save the trapped elevator occupants.

The film is better than its ostensible supernatural elements, which are so sparse, it’s almost like they were put in more by accident than deliberation. Devil is available for rent or purchase on Amazon, on YouTube, on iTunes, and more.

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Game of Drones: Game of Thrones, Bore-i-fied

Spoilers
Don’t Listen to These Podcasts

Till You’ve Seen the Shows

I tried to find a photo of someone sleeping on HBO’s wildly popular series Game of Thrones, but wasn’t successful. The closest I could find was a photo of a character dead, and even when it was the murdered Jon Snow, his eyes were open.

That seems appropriate if you’re a fan like I am, lying awake counting down the days between seasons. That stretch can be unbearably long — longer than summer or winter in the series itself — and it’s going to be longer this year since season 7 will air later in 2017 than it has in previous years:  the show-runners wanted to film the series in winter, now that Winter Is Here, but what grief for fans, eh?

Fortunately, Drew Ackerman, aka Scooter, aka @DearestScooter on the Twitter, has just the thing for all us deprived GoT fans. In an off-shoot to his wildly popular SleepWithMePodcast, which is designed to “bore you to slumber” — if you can stop laughing — with its “ingeniously” imaginative stories and meandering introductions, Drew has given us Game of Drones. And these podcasts are wonderful, I gotta tellya, even if they are designed to put you to sleep. You’re gonna love them. I’ve listed each Game of Drones extended episode below, preceded by my brief overview of the GoT season, in case you forgot what happened, and I apologize in advance for not being nearly as ingeniously funny as Dearest Scooter.

Season One

Based on the fantasy novel  A Game of Thrones, Book 1 of the best-selling series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones is set in the fictional land of Westeros, composed mainly of The 7 Kingdoms, where royal claimants and usurpers fight for the right to sit on the Iron Throne. Season One concentrates on three major families: the Lannisters, the Starks, and the Targaryens. Their stories become interwoven with their claims to the throne, and their loyalty to their ruler.

Game of Drones, Season 1
10 hours

Season Two

Based roughly on A Clash of Kings, Book 2 in George R. R. Martin’s best-selling series of novels A Song of Ice and Fire, HBO’s critically acclaimed and award-winning Game of Thrones continues its exploration of power, politics, family obligations, love, and betrayal, in the second season. As the battle for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of the civilized world erupts once more, everyone now knows that “Winter is coming. The surviving members of the three major families — Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen — continue the quest for survival and power, this time amidst rebellions, uprisings, and war. They are joined and betrayed by members of various other Houses.

Game of Drones, Season 2
10+ hours

Season Three

Based in part on the first half of A Storm of Swords, Book 3 of George R. R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, created and written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the stories of the inhabitants of Westeros and the Lands beyond continue. Love, power, and betrayal are its major themes as the War of the Five Kings intensifies. The third season of Game of Thrones gets viewers more intimately involved with the peripheral characters, bringing them to the forefront. Though there are multiple, ultimately converging storylines, the excellent writing and powerful acting keep the viewers engaged without confusing them. Even the scene transitions flawlessly guide viewers from one character — or group of characters — to another, and back again. The acting is riveting, with some previously minor characters taking center stage, and some previously “evil” characters gaining the sympathy of the audience.

Game of Drones, Season 3
11+ hours

Season Four

Season 4 of HBO’s award-winning series Game of Thrones is based principally on the second half of A Storm of Swords, Book 3 in George R. R. Martin’s acclaimed fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Season 4 also includes material from Book 4, A Feast for Crows, and Book 5, A Dance with DragonsIn Season 4, the writers of Game of Thrones continues to explore its themes of love, betrayal, and power, on the familial and national level. The storyline is expanded to explore themes of loyalty, hubris,  spirituality, religious beliefs, religious intolerance, as well as the morality of violence. The principal families — Lannister, Stark, Targaryen, and Tyrell — remain, and their stories are deftly interwoven with those of new characters.

Game of Drones, Season 4
10 hours

Season Five

Season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, is adapted primarily Books 4 and 5 in George R. R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Along with Books 4 and 5 — A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons — the writers returned to Book 3, A Storm of Swords, for additional content. They also had access to material from Martin’s as-yet unpublished Book 6, The Winds of Winter. Season 5 of the dramatic adaptation won a record number of Emmy Awards for a series in a single year: 12 awards out of 24 nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series. Created and (mostly) written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the show’s writing, acting, and design are all brilliant, and Game of Thrones deserves every award it’s won.

Game of Thrones Season 5 unites many of the storylines that have been converging during the previous 4 seasons. The major families who started the drama — the Lannisters, the Starks, and the Targaryens — are joined with the Tyrells, the Martells, and the Boltons. The only remaining Baratheon, Stannis, is still waging war against the King of the Seven Kingdoms. Season 5 also takes one of Season 4’s major themes — religious intolerance — and puts it in the forefront of the drama. Although family loyalty still determines most of the characters’ actions, the quest for power is intimately intertwined with any family obligations.

Game of Drones, Season 5
12+ hours

Season Six

Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones is based on the as yet uncompleted Book 6 in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter, and includes a “significant amount of material” from the Books 4 and 5 — A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. The author provided a detailed outline to show creators Benioff and Weiss. The sixth season proved to have more weaknesses than the previous ones, and it may have been due to the fact that the show-runners were working from an outline, no matter how detailed, rather than culling the story from completed books. Still, this season had some of the most powerful moments of the entire series, some of which Martin will be hard-pressed to reproduce on the printed page.

The battle for the Iron Throne gets vicious as the major families  — the Lannisters, the Starks, and the Targaryens — are joined by other families — the Tyrells, the Martells, and the Boltons — the latter of whom either want to rule the Seven Kingdoms themselves or who want revenge for wrongs inflicted by the three primary families.

Game of Drones, Season 6
11+ hours
(no extensive recap of the entire season yet
individual episodes listed below)

s6 e1

Red Woman and Mood Rings: #382

s6 e2

Home: #385

s6 e3


Oathbreaker: #388

s6 e4


Book of the Stranger: #391

s6 e5


The Door: #394

s6 e6

Blood of My Blood: #397

s6 e7


The Broken Man: #400

s6 e8


No One: #403

s6 e9


Battle of the Bastards: #406

s6 e10


Winds of Winter: #409

brief s6 recap


In Case You Were Worried About Tommen: #410
1+ hour

Want more Game of Thrones, even when you’re sleeping?

You might as well subscribe, my Lovelies, because Game of Drones is droning across the “deep, dark night” especially for you.

——-

all photos courtesy of HBO Game of Thrones.
Games of Drones
images from SleepWithMePodcast

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