By Ed Coghlan
“I’m still in pain, but I’m a lot less angry about it.”
That’s how a participant at the recent Women in Pain Conference described herself after meeting Ping Ho who is Founding Director of UCLArts and Healing, which transforms lives through creative expression.
She took the women (and some men) at the conference through activities used by creative arts therapists.
“A lot of what I do is talk about letting go of self-judgment,” she told the National Pain Report in an interview last week. “In this case I was helping them letting their self-judgment take a vacation.”
In other words, it’s ok to “love yourself”.
She has a Masters in counseling and a Masters in public health and has merged those two disciplines with a deep appreciation of what the arts can do to help change peoples’ lives.
It started by folks drawing on an illustration of a body where they were hurting.
Then Ping Ho went to work.
She spoke about body language–“what our bodies tell people about ourselves” and then took the conference attendees through a body hugging exercise.
“To reinforce that it’s ok to love yourself,” she said.
They warmed up with imagery, listened to music and “imagined moving without self consciousness.”
Visualization is important for athletes and actors, “if you see it you can become it”. So why wouldn’t it work for chronic pain patients?
“People in chronic pain have either experienced trauma or the pain itself is the trauma,” she said.
A lot of the work was done in the group, a shared experience among chronic pain sufferers, and the active engagement had many people smiling at the end.
“At the end, the attendees drew again on the body illustration sheet and it showed they felt better.”
The group dynamic was very powerful.
As Cynthia Toussaint, Founder and Spokesperson of For Grace told us.
“Ping Ho is a generous and gifted healer. I was in a significant amount of pain when I began her interactive session after lunch. I was stunned an hour later to not only have forgotten about my pain, but also to have bonded deeply with the women in the room–all who were laughing. She was one of the most miraculous kinds of medicine I’ve ever experienced and there were no side effects. Bravo!”
For many chronic pain patients, the ability to convene and work together is rare. Often, they are alone and isolated.
“The arts can be used to help folks who feel isolated,” Ping said.
She pointed out that writing is a powerful tool that you can do yourself. Active engagement in music “takes up a lot of your brain”. She also said there are a number of online forums where you can participate in arts endeavors.
The UCLA program is very interesting and there are programs and opportunities that can benefit both the individual and the community. Take a look at what they offer here.
Have you used an artistic effort like writing, prose or poetry, singing, acting to combat chronic pain?
If so, let us know about it.
If you haven’t, based on the experiences at the Women in Pain Conference, you might want to try it.