Occasionally I hear something that pings in my brain, making a connection and revealing something I recognize as TRUTH. On NPR this morning, Shankar Vedantam, the host of the Hidden Brain podcast spoke to David Green about new research about dancing. Well, the study used dancing to measure something else: pain. Listen to the segment here.

I listened and heard this: participating in a group, collaborating on something (even if it’s a spastic, poorly executed dance routine) ultimately reduces your pain and the perception of pain. Alternately, dancing alone, especially in a room full of people – dancing your own dance moves, even if they are awesome and totally boss – registers shame and isolation and your pain reports go up and your perception of pain rises.

Let that sink in.

In a group, even if I perform badly, even if I make myself a fool, I will feel better, I will hurt less. But going it alone, even if you are stellar at whatever, it sucks and your primitive, evolutionary brain knows it. The Truth that flowed into this epiphanous space was the multitude of patients I have with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, depression……and how isolated they all are. I am not sure which comes first, the pain and then the isolation but it become an ouroboros. And, of course, I think about myself…..and how solitary I can be and how efficient I manage things and the consequences of that solitude and singularity.

The lesson is to join. Take a Barre class, eat with friends, dance with strangers, seek out groups, join in and be among others.

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