â€œNo,â€ she said, â€œthose are the biggest bags under your eyes ever.â€
While she didnâ€™t mean it as a compliment, I kind of like the drawing. All the scars, baggy eyes, missing teeth, and chin hairs have turned into something that I find oddly beautiful.
Most of us have a range of ourselves we are comfortable sharing with others. There are parts of ourselves that might feel too intense, powerful, ugly, mushy or just plain messy to be part of what we show.
Being able to tolerate the pain of what feels too big or messy for ordinary life is big stuff.
Iâ€™m super inspired by recent research on how our pain thresholds are affected by dancing with others. As summarized in a recent NPR story:
â€¦[W]hen the volunteers were taught the same dance moves and heard the same songs as the others, their movements synchronized on the dance floor. Now, afterwards, these volunteers were able to withstand significantly more pain. Their threshold for pain increased.
By contrast, the volunteers who heard different songs or were taught different dance moves to the same music didn’t synchronize their movements. These volunteers experienced either no change in their pain perception or an increase in their pain perception. They actually felt more pain than they did before.
The researchers believe dancing in time with others is so powerful because it signals to the brain that you are part of a bigger group and all is well. This is probably why synchronized dancing has evolved around the world.
I imagine singing or practicing meditative movements like qigong together might have similar benefits. I also suspect researchers have only begun to name some of the many more reasons movement, creativity, and spiritual practice keeps us well.
Life can be not-so-pretty and downright tough to bear. We arenâ€™t meant to endure it alone. Go find your community and practice and lighten your load.
Join the magic of a dance practice or qigong practice. Or contact me about individual qigong healing sessions.