People with a wide range of chronic pain conditions have come through the doors of my classes and have reported significantly lower or no pain by the end of class, as well as increased mobility in parts of their body that they’d been unable to move for years. During a period where I conducted preliminary trials (through a formal survey and informal interviews), the Dancing with Pain® method proved to have a 96% rate of efficacy.
That said, I will never tell you that the method will definitely work for your particular body. I don’t care if 100% of the people with the exact same condition before you were helped drastically by the method. Every body is different, and what works for some people or even the overwhelming majority of people may not work for you. Conversely, what doesn’t work for a million people may work splendidly for you.
In my own chronic pain journey through hell, I was told by every Tom, Dick, and Harry that this or that method definitely would work for me. I also was advised to stop doing everything else I was doing, so that the latest method of choice would be able to work its magic without being compromised.
Healing from chronic pain, I have found, requires an it-takes-a-village approach, as well as a discerning attitude. My advice is this:
1. Do your homework.
Educate yourself about the various conventional, complementary, and alternative methods out there. That in itself can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know where to begin or whom to trust. That’s why I have put together a store with books, CDs, and DVDs that I recommend to get you going.
2. Mind your wallet.
Healthcare practitioners will be more than happy to suck dry your resources. One of the beautiful things about healthcare is helping other people. One of the sick things about healthcare is making a living off of other people’s illness. If you don’t feel yourself improving from a certain method within a month or three of regular practice, ditch it and try something else, even if your practitioner is telling you that you need to give it more time.
3. Don’t rely too heavily on science.
I’ve done this myself and seen other people to it, all to our detriment: We’re so programmed to defer to scientific findings that regardless of what our very own bodies feel, we may follow what science says to do, despite it going against our physical reaction and gut instincts. Don’t. Science is a tool to help us identify some treatments that may possibly help us. But it’s neither foolproof nor tailored to our individual bodies.
4. Use a sliding scale of evidence.
I like what Andrew Weil MD says about being more scientifically demanding for treatments that are invasive or otherwise potentially unsafe and being less scientifically demanding for treatments with little or no possibility of causing harm. For example, who cares if science has proven that deep breathing can help calm anxiety? Maybe science is behind the curve. Regardless, learning to breathe deeply is not going to hurt you. So why not try it and see how it goes? Maybe it can help.
5. Listen to your gut reaction.
Medicine is a combination of science, art, and human touch. A doctor can be credentialed up the wazoo from all the right places but be an asshole who makes you afraid of speaking up. Not a good pain doc. A massage therapist may work at the most posh clinic in the most upscale neighborhood. If she gives you attitude when you try to tell her about your sensitivities, however, she’s not for you.
So back to the Dancing with Pain® method and whether it can help you: I don’t know if it can. I do know that it gave me back my life and that it has helped others minimize or eliminate their pain as well. I also know that it is designed to put you in the drivers’ seat of your body and your healing process, so it is highly unlikely to hurt you. I mean, I encourage people to lie physically still and dance in their imagination if that’s the only place in their body that doesn’t hurt.
So if the method speaks to you, and you think it’s worth a shot, why not try it? Having been through the physical, financial and other wringers of chronic pain hell myself, I’ve created downloadable audio classes not only for those whose pain prevents them from getting out of the house to attend a live class, but also for those who can’t even afford $15 for a single class. I’ve been there. Which is why you can download an audio class for $3.95 and use it forever.
Or just put on your favorite music and dance without pushing through or otherwise triggering your pain zones. Because, seriously, no matter what your pain condition, healing just might be this simple: Move safely, gently, and joyfully. The rest will follow.