Natural Pain Relief: Alchemy between Music, Spirit, and Body

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

June 28th, 2009 • Dance for Natural Pain ReliefPrint Print

My physical therapist has asked me a few times about what exactly I do when I dance.  She’s trying to figure out the body mechanics that enable me to suddenly have little or no pain and be able to move in ways that I could not do just minutes prior to dancing. 

The thing is, my dance is not about body mechanics.  It’s about something that transcends the physical plane.  It’s an alchemy between music, spirit, and body.  It’s a vibrational interaction.  It’s a transference of energy between the musicians, instruments, and me.  And it is different every day.

Take yesterday: I was casually dancing around my living room, moving slowly. Then I put on 80s industrial music.  Bam!  I was leaping in the air and bouncing around on my feet.  While I did remain mindful of my ankle, it was a brain thing — a precaution.  My body had seemingly forgotten the ankle pain existed. 

While I do think it’s important to take precaution, for the most part I flow with the transition to a no-pain zone.  My intuition says that if I am overly-precautious (the fine line being determined by listening to my body with my entire being attuned), the clash between my body and mind can result in exacerbation of pain and injury.

I’m reminded of the book Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.  In one scene, Ethan and his girlfriend get on a sled, preparing to commit suicide by pushing the sled down a steep, icy incline that, as I remember it, ends in a wall.  Getting onto the sled, Ethan is well-aware that if he hesitates even a nanosecond, the necessary momentum will be lost, and he and his girlfriend will end up severely crippled instead of dead — which ends up happening.

I read the book in high school, and I still remember that scene vividly. Though I may not have been able to articulate it at the time, I was captivated by the underlying alchemy of commitment, trust, faith, intention, energy, flow, and permission all working together in one harmonious burst.

At any rate, what’s interesting is that I can never predict the alchemy of my dance.  Yesterday, the industrial music did it for me.  Today, it was global hip-hop music. Like a shot in the dark, an explosion out of nowhere, the music immediately and magically transports my body to an entirely different state, so that I cannot not move vivaciously. And yet, some days, no matter what music I play, my body moves slowly and gently the entire time — whether on my feet, in a chair, or rolling around on the floor.

What’s also interesting is that I can be leaping around while music is playing, but barely be able to walk when it’s off.  What I’m curious about is whether consistency of my dancing routine will amp up my general physical comfort and state of being over time. While I may not notice a marked difference in pain levels during the hours I’m not dancing on one particular day, I anticipate that my pain levels will more rapidly decrease overall in my life – over a period of days, weeks, months, or years – as I engage regularly in the healing alchemy of dance.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to commit to my dancing now, first thing every day.  I’ll report back from the field as I move forward.

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