This Painting Healed My Back

abstract painting of misaligned spineMy back had been hurting for over a year. I had started doing yoga, but I didn’t remember injuring myself during yoga. I didn’t remember injuring myself at all. One day I just discovered that I had pain in my lower back every time I bent over. Little did I know that an abstract painting would be my cure.

I ignored the pain as best I could. My back didn’t hurt all the time, but enough to limit my movement and exercise regime. I tried gentle stretching and gave myself some time to heal. Weeks went by. Then months. There was absolutely no improvement. I was getting very discouraged.

I didn’t want to seek medical help. I thought there might be a slightly pinched nerve or compressed vertebrae. I reasoned that a pulled or strained muscle would have healed by now. I was concerned that I would be told from a medical perspective that the condition was permanent. I did not want to hear that.

Several months after the pain started, I was creating a series of abstract paintings. Many of these were done in sequential layers. I’d start out pouring multiple colors of very thin paint on a canvas. I’d let that dry for a day or two. Then I’d go back and look for patterns in the flowing shapes and colors. I’d add another layer of colors, let that dry and repeat the process.

I had no plan in mind for the final image in these paintings. I tried to stay in a neutral state and just observe what was emerging. After a few days on a particular painting, I noticed that something like a spine was visible in the patterns of color. Sure enough, I had unintentionally painted an image of my back!

I looked closely and knew that something was wrong. The spine wasn’t properly aligned. My goal in creating art is to make uplifting images. This was a painting of a painful, misaligned spine! I didn’t know what to do with the painting. I didn’t want to display or sell or reproduce an image of pain or distress. I set the painting aside.

painting after virtual surgeryBy the time the next summer came around, I was really frustrated with the lingering back pain. One day I remembered the painting, which I had named “I’ve Got Your Back.” The thought occurred to me that maybe I could use the painting to heal myself.

I had read about an experiment where patients needing knee surgery were divided up into three groups. Some received full knee surgery. Some had an alternate procedure. A third group had incisions done but did not have any knee surgery at all. None of the patients knew whether they had had the actual surgery or not.

The results suggested the same therapeutic benefits were achieved through non-invasive placebo surgery. Sometimes the results were even better. I thought maybe I could use the painting like a proxy. What if I did surgery on the painting and could get the same benefits as if I had had actual back surgery?

I rarely destroy or discard a painting but a year of back pain was more than enough incentive to try the experiment. I got the sharpest knife I could find. I set the painting against a wall, centered myself and set my intention for healing, asking for assistance from angels or guides or whatever divine help might be available.

healthy back regainedAt first I tried only removing the center of the painting where the spine was clearly misaligned. Somehow that didn’t feel quite right. Eventually I removed the entire spine from the painting, working for fifteen or twenty minutes. I tried stretching again. The pain was diminished significantly, but not completely gone.

Over the course of the next few days, the pain disappeared entirely. I no longer had any limitations. At all. The destroyed painting was in a pile of miscellaneous junk in the garage. It was as though the pain and injury had never existed.

Two years have passed since this experiment. The back pain has never returned. I can stretch and hike and walk and lift weights with complete freedom. In fact, I am much stronger now than I was before this ordeal. I sacrificed a painting. I gained back a fully active life. I am grateful.

Resources: Study Finds Common Knee Surgery No Better Than Placebo, Baylor College of Medicine,


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