Hip-hop and healing
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
I never thought I'd learn about spiritual healing by taking a hip-hop dance class. My intention was merely to have fun and to try something new.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
I did both. I hipped. Hopped. I began to discover my inner groove, or "funk," as my teacher called it.
Meanwhile, I was discovering something else, too. It was a lesson in saying, "I can."
Unlike many of the dancers in my class, I was a novice. I'd tapped and taken jazz before. And in college, I'd experimented with salsa and African dance. But most of the movements that form the core of hip-hop were new to me. As a result, the first couple of months were challenging both physically and mentally.
I say "mentally," because I got frustrated easily. If I couldn't pick up a move after a couple of tries, I tended to give up. My thoughts were peppered with "I can'ts." And with those "I can'ts" came almost certain failure.
I found I had plenty of excuses to say, "I can't." And all these reasons were taking the fun out of dancing. Then one day it occurred to me that I could fight back. As I prayed to figure out how, this question came to mind: Why not say "I can"?
I'm not talking willpower or positive thinking. I feel this was God's way of telling me that He gives me everything I need. Like the understanding to figure out a tricky move. The enthusiasm and joy to keep trying, even if it takes some practice to master a combination. As the expression of God, I realized, I had it within me not just to hang in there when the going got tough, but to succeed.
Sure enough, I found that the more I said, "I can" - and knew the reason why - the more I could. I began to keep pace with the experienced dancers. Embarrassment, self-consciousness, and frustration gave way to my natural exuberance and delight. It became fun to take on difficult moves because I was confident that as the reflection of Soul, God, I had everything I needed to perform them.
A nice little lesson in the power of saying, "I can," right? But it was more than that. The wonderful part was the way my new choice to say, "I can," ended up translating into another area of my life: healing.
The setting was the Arizona desert. 110 degrees. The sun and extreme heat seemed to take their toll, and I became quite ill. But sick as I was, I also felt a sense of reassurance. There, out in the middle of nowhere, I knew God was "a very present help in trouble," as the Bible puts it (Ps. 46:1).
So I began to pray. This prayer wasn't a petition for divine intervention. It was an acknowledgment of God's love for me, of His unchanging care. I can't remember all the specifics, but I know I started with God. More than anything, I wanted to know Him better, because it was this understanding, as I'd found before, that brings healing. The question I was trying to answer was this: Why are sickness and pain impossible to God?
Well, I prayed about that. And I prayed some more. I prayed, and I still felt awful. I had plenty of good answers to my question, but they seemed flat - and pat. Frustration began to creep in. And so did a whole host of "I can'ts." The list, I'm sorry to say, was lengthy.
And then a friend who was praying with me got my attention. "Don't let anything make you think that you aren't receptive to the truth," she said. It was the lesson I'd learned in hip-hop class. I needed to say, "I can."
"I know why sickness and pain are impossible to God," I thought. "It's because He's all-powerful, all-encompassing good. That's the truth, and I am receptive to it."
In an instant, the dizziness, nausea, and all the other symptoms left. I felt fine. The moment I said "yes" to healing, healing happened.
For a long time, "I can't" seemed so legitimate. I thought I had a hundred reasons to say it - and many areas of my life gave me the opportunity. But the simple lesson I learned from hip-hop taught me otherwise. The fact is, God made each of His children to say, "I can." And because of His great love for each of us, we will.
Let them praise his name
in the dance.