“I’m in so much pain I can’t do anything” ~ Susie, age 15
When I entered the room, Susie was lying in her bed with her fists clenched. Her body was clenched in a tight straight line. I asked her if we could spend some time doing Dance/Movement Therapy.
She agreed, so we started by thinking about where in her body she felt this pain. She described it as a “red-brown color, the shape of a bean” and that it was “in her stomach area.” I asked if we could just gradually start shifting from side-to-side in a horizontal rocking motion. She continued to move and described how she had seen this color and shape before as her mom used to cook beans. Apparently, her mom would spend hours in the kitchen soaking the beans, waiting for the whole morning until the beans were ready to be put in a pot to boil. She told me about missing her mom—but more so about how frustrating it was to wait for beans to cook.
Her body became stiffer as she expressed her thoughts about frustration and waiting. I asked, “Is this feeling of frustration and waiting familiar in your current daily life?” She explained, as she started to rock more quickly, that the waiting was a familiar feeling while she endured this pain illness. Though she was neither able to let it go nor figure out what the problem was, she always had the pain.
We continued to rock side to side and discussed how the beans, just like her body, would start by being stiff and tight before they were being soaked. Then I asked her, “Start moving in other directions.” (In other words, to move like the beans in an actively boiling pot.) She started undulating from side to side, forward and back, and up and down. As this movement increased, we discussed how the water would move as it boiled. She expanded her movement and breathing as her talking increased.
She told me, “As I am moving, I feel a softening happening in my body.” Eventually, we increased the speed until she felt like her body was completely relaxed and all of her limbs were soft and fluid. She slowed her body down, took a deep breath—in through her nose and out through her mouth—and finally managed to lie still. She said she felt like she didn’t have to wait anymore. The pain had disappeared.
At this point, she laughed and exclaimed, “I think the beans would be ready to eat!” We laughed together as I had her think about her body and check in on her feet, ankles, legs, hips, stomach, back, hands, arms, neck, face, and head to see whether she still had any pain.
I then noted that, by making a connection to her pain and allowing her body to move, she appeared to have taken control over her body. In this way, helping her verbally express a change in pain was a wonderful moment!
This example of a movement metaphor arising from the painful memory of a mother making the beans illustrates a key element of my work in Dance/Movement Therapy with children. More often than not, physical pain has an emotional element to it, and through somatic analogies of connection, we can shift from tight and bound to loose and flowing. Using the body to access and gain control over painful emotional feelings is a powerful method of shifting pain into comfort.
Opportunities like this make me truly inspired and grateful. Putting my practice in action to create inspiring results like this fuels the passion for my work. Thank you for sharing this Moving Moment with me!
Movement for Integration & Connection – Let’s All Move Together!
All names, ages, and identifying information has been changed to ensure confidentiality and safety for all individuals involved. The events are a composite of related scenarios used to illustrate the work; bringing understanding to the benefits of supporting children through a mind/body connection.