“ You won’t believe this…….. but my symptoms were completely gone for few hours after meeting other musicians yesterday! “
This is the type of emails that I have constantly received after hosting group gathering for musicians who have been afflicted with focal dystonia. We usually have just enough time for musicians to introduce ourselves, freely express what we have experienced and connect with other musicians who have gone through and/or currently facing the same problem.
For many who come to the gathering, this is their first time that they feel they can express their experience in an environment where they feel understood and fully accepted. Some have difficult time holding back their tears and some might even feel too excited to be heard by others.
Hosting these events has been such eye opening experience and source of true insight and inspiration.
My main idea for organising a real life group gatherings for musicians was to see if affected musicians could be of support to each other instead of feeling very lonely, isolated and misunderstood.
I also had my own selfish agenda, which was purely based on curiosity on what would happen if afflicted musicians would start exchanging their experiences and ideas in real life settings. I, and probably everyone else who attended the meeting, wanted to get first hand information as to what worked, or not worked for some people, including the environment that they surround themselves in, mindset and different approaches.
The gatherings were very modest in size, somewhere between a group of 6~12 people, and we almost had completely new members in each of the gatherings. I’ve tried to make my best intention on making an environment where the musicians feel safe to express themselves on what had lead them to where they are currently at, their take on the problem and solutions.
We’ve sure had heated discussions on what works and what doesn’t among different ‘denominations’ of approaches and established works. I’ve also witnessed breakthroughs and transformations within the event.
With larger groups, sometimes we barely had enough time to introduce ourselves and tell our own stories in front of the group. Nevertheless the occurrence of me receiving the "my symptoms disappeared fora while !" emails did not necessary change with the content of the conversation or information that they have exchanged. My theory is that the content didn’t matter as much as the sense of safety and sense of being fully understood and accepted by everyone in the room.
Quite possibly, the sense of belonging is a much stronger force then we can all imagine. Musicians who claim that their symptoms have significantly improved or even completely vanished for few hours after attending the gathering didn’t go through any treatment or were exposed to such ground breaking ideas and skill sets for recovery . They have just told their own story and heard other stories from their peer group and felt safety and sense of belonging like they have never experienced.
This begs my question.
How much recovery are we holding back by feeling isolated and feeling that you are fighting a lonely battle alone?
It is truly important that we reach out for support.
If you can, make your own support group. Being part of an online group is great. A real time human interaction is even better.
Your support group can just be one friend who you can ask to listen to you from time to time.
Your support group does not have to offer any solution.
It is only a safe haven where you feel completely safe to express your concerns and difficulties without any judgement.
Let your support group know that they are helping your tremendously by listening to you and offer to support them in something else if you can.