I’ve been a fan of Jewish journalist Loolwa Khazzoum since reading her essay in Yentl’s Revenge years ago. She and I played phone tag for almost a year trying to arrange a coffee date before I moved away from the San Francisco Bay Area, and I never did get to kibbitz with her in person. But I’m glad she’s still got my email:
She just sent me a link to her new blog, part of a site called Dancing with Pain, a movement philosophy to help those living with chronic pain. Loolwa was in a horrible car accident in 1997 and was thrown into the unsympathetic world of Western medicine as she tried to heal. Still barely able to walk years later, she had an epiphany at a dance retreat in 2004 and learned to use energy and meditation to move again. Now she’s developed a series of workshops and lectures that help seekers learn to:
* embody physical dance to dialogue with and soften pain
* distill and channel the raw energy of pain recycling it to heal itself
* utilize spiritual dance to transform fear, anger, and frustration from pain
Reading about this philosophy last night sent bells ringing through my bones. First of all, I have been living with a torn hip faschia since the birth of Yenta Boy, and I’ve been known to break into spontaneous yoga in public places to keep the pain at bay. I have had this sense that I either must to “dance with the pain” or succumb to it, and frankly, I just don’t have time to be an invalid. So I keep moving.
Many of you readers know that dance has long been a vital part of my life, but the deep connection between my spiritual well-being and dance has been something that’s fallen by the wayside since I’ve moved away from California and its frequent gatherings of happy, twirling hippies. I don’t think I’ve danced – really danced, that lose-yourself-in-the-beat, sweaty, barefoot ecstasy that was part of every single day of my 20s – in over a year. I miss it so much.
Loolwa’s blog has reminded me that I need to dance – not at a club where tequila shots are three-for-ten-bucks and people hooking up in the bathroom, but a safe, sacred space where you can bring your kids and groove and participate in the highest and holiest vibrations on the planet. In Fairfax, I could depend on the monthly Groove Garden with its vegan snack bar and a second room full of pillows and rugs where all the hip parents would let the children chill out. It was what I wish synagogue was – communal, kind, elevated, conscious, worshipful and estatic.
You are probably not surprised that no place or events exists like this anywhere remotely near Savannah, Georgia. I thought when I moved here that I would continue to teach tribal dance and ignite something here, but the atmosphere here isn’t really one where people hang out in alcohol-fre environments listening to New Age music, unselfconciously gyrating to the rhythms of their inner spirits. See how ridiculous it sounds? But still, I had this idea that it would be so great to organize a monthly Groove Shabbos, a place where freaks like me and my family could dance our prayers in an authentic way. Would you come? Or do you think the Deep South will never be ready for trance music and carob balls?