The Healing Power of Sound & Music

Any one who has read my book ‘A Journey of Creative Healing’ knows that I am an advocate for alternative healing that has the potential to work compatibly with orthodox healing. I have always been convinced that the power of music has the ability to heal, even more so after a personal Sound Therapy experience some twenty odd years ago

Kimba Arem is an international recording artist and engineer, molecular biologist, classically trained musician and sound therapist. In addition to her rigorous scientific background she has studied a variety of Shamanic practices from around the world. I was honoured that Kimba a leader in the field of Sound and Subtle Energy Therapy, wrote the foreword to my book ‘A Journey of Creative Healing,’  

I first met Kimba in Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands in the mid ‘90s. My friend gave me a gift of a music therapy session with her. Kimba had become a full time spiritual seeker since her transformational wake up call – a near death experience– in 1992. Her life work from then became dedicated to healing others through the medium of sound and music.

A simple explanation of Sound and Subtle Energy Therapy is that it induces states of deep relaxation where the healing of emotional pain and scars are able to take place.

The website Harmonic Sounds explains that the therapy of sounds and vibrations are able to ‘release fear and grief, loneliness and depression, cleanse unwanted emotions and find solutions to emotional issues with others, are all achieved with sound healing. Many physical ailments, aches, pains, muscular and connective tissue problems, mobility problems, post-operative recovery, tinnitus and many more serious chronic diseases can all be cured or alleviated by sound therapy.’

My healing hour with Kimba can only be described as blissfully extraordinary. My friend had enthused but gave me no detail of the techniques used in the treatment and this unknown meant I a little nervous as I knocked on the front door of Kimba’s house. But from the minute I met this Goddess of sound healing radiating calm and a total sense of togetherness, I felt at home.

bottles and flowers, soft natural light.

Her treatment room was a sun-dappled sanctuary. The air blitzed with some sweet smelling herbal aromatic. I lay, well rather as I was so relaxed it felt like nesting, on the padded therapy table. Wearing a special eye mask my sense of time and space were no longer relevant as I focused on the exquisite and random sounds of a quartz-crystal didgeridoo and other indigenous and classical instruments that were used to harmonize my energy field. Added to this ravishment of musical vibration, I was taken into a land beyond ‘la la,’ by means of light frequencies and color, which Kimba incorporated into my unique, multi-dimensional healing hour.

For days afterwards I wandered around in joyful rapture glowing with health and bonhomie.

Kimba has been an instructor for celebrity and alternative health doctor Andrew Weil’s Integrative Medicine program and was the musician for his Healthy Aging tour.

Her sound therapy CDs currently in print include Waltz of the Moon, Vibrational Sound Healing, Gaearth Dreaming, Peace Journey, The Healing Didgeridoo Creation’s Tone, Psychedelic Prayers, The Way of Water, and Self-Healing with Sound and Music with Kimba Arem and Dr. Andrew Weil. Her latest CD, Crossing the Great Waters, is intended to guide souls through great transitions such as birth, death, expanded states of consciousness, and lucid dreaming. Her first full-length movie score, Secret of Water, is now for sale, and streaming on Gaia.com.

Rest Your Mind On The Good Stuff

In my book A Journey of Creative Healing I tell my story of how as a young woman, widowed with two infant children, I was diagnosed, with an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis.  I had suffered random episodes of symptoms for a few years before these became too obvious to ignore.

Intuitively I rejected the diagnosis.   I felt that my illness was a reflection of traumas and challenges in my life and that my illness was a physical and emotional breakdown.

To dismiss the diagnosis over fifty years ago was not difficult as little was known of the disease, unlike today, there was no swag of information, no range of medication, very few support groups and no follow up evaluation by health professionals to consider how I would cope as the disease progressed.

Instead I focused on a daily creative project, it did not matter what, or how big it was, or how perfect the results were I just put my heart and soul into doing something creative every day.

I have always been convinced this intuitive step of not defining myself as the diagnosis was central in empowering the other simple common sense steps of acceptance, rest, quiet, gratitude and creativity to weave their healing magic.  This year I have been in remission for fifty-five years. 

 I am equally convinced that had I accepted the diagnosis and rested my mind on being a MS sufferer, my story would have played out in a very different fashion.

Today’s medical advancements are a far cry from the 1960’s and state of the art technological equipment provides as with a reliable and accurate diagnosis. Conclusively we see diagnosis is key to today’s successful management of that disease.

And it would be foolhardy to dismiss a diagnosis today.

Receiving a life-changing determination of what ails you focuses the mind keenly on the specific diagnostic definition.

But I still believe that it is counterintuitive to actually DEFINE yourself as the disease.  By define, I mean try it on for size, see that it fits, then live and breathe 24/7 being a ‘…………… sufferer.’

‘Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.’- Unknown

Define comes from the Old French word ‘definer,’ which is a variant of Latin meaning bring to an end, finish, mark the limit of. Our words have energy and power, especially ones that flag our suffering.  Quantum physics (way beyond my pay grade but I trust the science) say we are energy that attracts like-minded energy.

So be careful what you wish for or rather where you put your focus.

By necessity as a patient your life is focused on coping with treatment, medication and medical appointments.  But you can balance this with practical steps to change your focus

  • Make a determined effort to re-focus on doing what you love.
  • Daily – find somewhere quiet and encourage your imagination to see yourself content and in good health.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Avoid stress.
  • Banish the word from your everyday language or say ‘you are holding space for………’   
  • Ask family and friends to keep the word to a minimum. Ask them instead to actively visualise you as healthy and content.
  • Listen to your intuition and act upon it.

And when you able, in this wretched journey of ill health, have the courage to re-define your illness as a blessing seeing your sickness as simply the body and spirit’s way of saying ‘time-out’ to rediscover and renew you.

From this place you are no longer in conflict with the disease, and I have found, as many others have too, that when you get out of its way the body invariably knows how to heal itself.

 

Kia Kaha New Zealand

This remote island country in the South Pacific Ocean has a scant population of 4.5 million and is home to the unbeatable All Black Rugby team. New Zealand may be small but the ‘Kiwis’ lead the world on many human rights issues.
In 1840 the Waitangi Treaty was signed giving Maori and the European alike equal rights. It was the first country in the world to give women the vote in 1893 and in 1899 the first country to introduce the 8-hour day.

The youngest nation in the world spawns pioneers. It is the scene of possibly the first flight ever made by man – Richard Pearce flew his homemade aircraft 150 yards in early 1903.

Sir Edmund Hillary

Legendary Auckland born Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953.

Lesser known but just as remarkable is the achievement of Ernest Rutherford, known as the father of nuclear physics, who won the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1905 and more recently 28 year old Eleanor Catton the youngest woman ever to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for her second novel ‘The Luminaries.’

No. 8 Wire

New Zealanders credit their innovation and successes to their country’s isolation and their ‘can-do’ attitude. The term ‘Number 8 Wire’ is common usage in the New Zealand vernacular. It is Kiwi shorthand for a bloke or a ‘blokess’ who can turn his/her hand to anything. It is believed that with a length of a Number 8 baling wire and some string anything can be fixed.

But all this innovation and cleverness is now a mere eccentricity compared to the nation’s most powerful reaction to a terrorist act that so grievously targeted a minority faction of their nation.

For a little country, the size of California, their stance of unity in the face of hatred echoes in the phrase ‘We are one,’ (coined by their PM Jacinta Arden) which, is reaching out around the world. And the world is listening. Once again New Zealanders are leading way this time with demonstrable displays of humanity, tolerance and love.

We are one

Never Ever…

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For years the same question haunted me, ‘Who the heck am I and why am I here?’

So decade or so ago, with naïve, bravado, I began a series of serious self-development endeavours, determined to overcome self-doubts and discover the authentic ME – whoever I was, warts and all.

Which led me to joining a year-long transformational workshop that could only be described as boot camp for the soul. Ironically the marrow of the work I chose, posed an intriguing question, ‘what do you love?’ ‘What do you love’ was the starting point and compass throughout the experience of change.

My ego threw up an imposing and confusing maze of things I loved — family, friends, creativity, theatre, literature, cooking, history, cold chicken and bubble and squeak, flowers, music, romance, knitting, patchwork, watching netball, friends, puppies, beach walks, public speaking, travel, lunches out, organising anything, movies, ABC radio/TV, writing, beach walks, coffee, George Clooney and new clothes. It seemed I loved everything ….

I was in a hurry for answers as time was a-marching but I found this quote that spurred me on…..‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ George Eliot, ‘Mill on the Floss.’

I found transformational work capricious, one minute I was rutted and gutted and the next it cleared as though it never was. Gradually I began to understand that while I broadly embraced so many aspects of life, the vital and intrinsic ME is at home when I am — communicating either through the written word or public speaking as a means to serve and connect with the rest of humanity.

The first glimpse of this love and service of communicating to others happened well over seventy years ago. My family lost everything in the London blitz in World War 11. Homeless, my mother, sister and I moved drifted around England wherever a billet or bed could be found.

My constant companion was my imaginary friend Sonny; I carried him around in my father’s battered attaché case. It was an earnest relationship — I shared secrets with him that I would never tell another soul. I remember – in between air raids — telling Sonny ‘One day I will write a book and I will talk about it and people will listen to me.’

It was a momentary whim that never really saw the light of day, mugged continually by an impoverished sense of worth embedded by the wartime loss of education and deprivation.

Instead everyday life – marriage, children, bereavement, single motherhood, sickness, a new relationship, family growth and building a business in midlife with no experience and no capital — became my world.

But I was always scribbling short stories and in my working life getting my food and travel articles published by newspapers and magazines. I was contributing to a writing group and doing creative writing courses. This coupled with an eighteen-year membership of a speaking club, meant I was incubating my dream.

My writing was a hobby. Communication to a wider audience through my public speaking was a hobby. Hobbies – yes simply hobbies but somehow I never strayed — the more I wrote and communicated the more I began to hunger to be true to myself. I wrote more, communicated more to wider audiences. The more action I took the more realistic the dream became.

Today I am centred, I find joy and fulfilment in expressing myself through the written and spoken word.

I am living testament to ‘it is never too late to be what you might have been,’ I have written two non-fiction books and one fiction. And I talk.   On cruise ships. I lecture on history, culture, travel, and writing enriching guests’ travels.

Oh how I love it.

Who’d have thought that little girl’s fantasy of achieving something beyond her wildest expectations could happen?

It just goes to show that you should never ever — not ever give up on your dreams.

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What did you say?

Unknown-3Like many people of my age, I am audio challenged – my hearing loss was caused by perforated eardrums.

But I am lucky quality hearing aids correct it. Without wearing these modern day wonders, if you are downwind from me I have little chance of hearing you. But face-to-face with good articulation I am reasonably able to receive your message.

When ‘aid-less’ the occasional blurring of consonants may give rise to confusion for me and the speaker.  Like sinking becomes thinking, Thursday becomes thirsty, fifth/lift, sit/shit and so on and so on.

Being deaf can produce amusing moments, especially for others. The fact is that lampooning hearing loss is still socially acceptable unlike making fun of other disabilities.

I join in the laughter at my gaffs. Like the time, BHD (before hearing devices), my friend asked me, “how is your urine?” Wow — that is personal I thought but she was a good friend and I presumed there was a purpose to her enquiry. I replied, “all good just have to get up a couple of times at night.”

She grabbed my arm, “No I said how is your hearing?” mouthing the words carefully and deliberately.

Hearing devices amplify sounds so in most situations they work well but in excessively Unknown-2noisy situations like a shopping centre, they simply swell the peripheral noise.

Most hearing loss adults over time have learned to read people’s lips and I am no exception. I cannot read people’s chatting lips from a distance. I need them in front of me where I follow their lips, eyebrow lifts, chin thrusts and body language to interpret the message as accurately as possible.

Sadly there is a stigma attached to deafness, people see it as being ‘old,’ ‘slow,’ ‘rude’ or ‘stupid.’ The broad sweep of ageism that society conveniently attaches to the aberrations of growing older.

And it is a condition that most frequently affects the older generation (65 and over) with one in three people in the US and one in six in Australia experiencing a hearing loss.

Steps you can take to manage adult hearing loss positively:

  • Acceptance – once you accept the limitations of loss of hearing you can manage it more effectively
  • Focus on doing things that you love
  • Get a good audiologist’s advice when investing in quality hearing devices
  • Own up to your deafness with family, friends and colleagues – tell them how they can help you
  • Keep socially active
  • Keep physically active

Risks of listening to excessively loud music

There are various factors that cause adult deafness but one that is on the horizon and growing rapidly in risk is exposure to loud noises. Society has been aware since the ‘50s that industrial noise can cause damage and we have taken precautions in the form of legislation to protect workers. But no legislation is in place to protect our young who like to listen to their music on their phones and iPods at a dangerously high level. It seems loud music driven into ears by those pesky ear-buds can be the same decibel level (110) as a jumbo jet taking off! Fifteen minutes of listening at this decibel level will damage the ears.

LoudMusic

The World Health Organisation back in 2015 warned nearly half of young adults – between the ages of 12 – 35 are exposing themselves to dangerously loud noise level and that more than one billion teens and young adults are at risk of losing their hearing.

Hearing loss caused by constant exposure to loud music is something we can prevent. Like any other medical condition prevention is the key:

• Use headphones rather than ear-buds.
• Use earplugs at nightclubs or loud pop concerts.
• Turn the volume down.

Hearing loss is not fun. While people may smile and josh as you laugh at their hearing bloopers, the truth is hearing loss impacts on the quality of work and social life. Your frustration in being with them is nothing compared to the isolation they feel without their hearing devices.

Rosie Malezer author of “How to be Deaf” wrote, “Your hearing status doesn’t make you a better person. Your humanity does.”

And with the rising tide of adult deafness predicted this is how you can show your humanity:

  • Talk directly to the person.
  • Don’t turn your head, especially downwards where your voice will disappear.
  • Articulate purposefully, as in ‘a,’ ’e,’i,’ ’o,’ ’u.’
  • Speak more slowly, not necessarily more loudly but more clearly
  • Understand that most will have learned to lip read to a certain extent so don’t put your back to the sun with the person in front of you – they will not be able to see you clearly to do so.
  • Avoid venues where clatter and chatter override a deep and meaningful conversation
  • Above all be patient

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Poles Apart

Those who have read my book A Journey of Creative Healing know that I put a great deal of value on listening to my intuition.

A couple of years ago I committed to write 75 days of a daily intuitive FB post. Today I got that inner nudge again to write as the muse or intuition directed. I found a quiet spot in the winter sun to quietly ask for guidance – ‘what do you want me to write?’

‘Intuition is perception via the unconscious that brings forth ideas, images, new possibilities and ways out of blocked situations.’    Carl Jung

My intuition gave me  a vision of a large pole stuck mid center of a space and the words ‘going round and round the pole.’ Vexing to say the least. But I did visualise myself doing exactly that — going around and around the pole.  ‘So what am I supposed to learn from this,’ I ask?
87706685The pole is seemingly immoveable, too tall to jump, too solid to push aside and there is only one way that I can get past it – is by going round it. I see it as something ugly —  a pale concrete column dominating a space while understanding this is an essential part of a building’s construction. I am irritated with my muse as she has set me a thankless task. I mentally tell her so. ‘Poles are poles,’ I say ’nothing more than holding up a roof, so what is the point of this exercise?’
My vision of the concrete column morphs from a pillar to a totem pole, carved exquisitely with its story of lineage, cultural beliefs and important events. I am intrigued with its significance. It seems that each figure on the totem pole represents a part of a story.A-Corbis-42-24133246_nlilf7
Carved from the cedar tree, totem poles are monumental sculptures that recall the characteristics of the clan or an historical event.
My perspective is changed —  here is the comfort of quality, tradition, art and lofty ideals embedded in my ‘pole’ vision.
An idiom springs to mind like ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover.’ My moralistic little pest of intuition has set me on my heels again. But she is not finished with me yet – ‘what is obvious about this Mary?’
‘Well,’ I answer smugly, ‘ it is obviously the way we look at things, we can either see it as an obstacle or an opportunity.’
‘Yes it is Mary —  but reflect again,’

‘The pole or obstacle is you.’

You can make a choice to embrace it and make it an intrinsic and artistic expression of yourself,’

‘Or you can simply go through life trying to go round it.’

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Great-fully-Grateful

gratitudeIn my book A Journey of Creative Healing, I write that half a century ago my Aunty G’ advised me to ‘always seek the silver lining in any situation.’
Finding the silver lining is one of the six steps that enabled me to return to full health. Today we know it as a practice of gratitude.
Back in the early 1960’s, the double wammy of grief and illness – death of my husband and the diagnosis of an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis — made it unbelievably hard to be grateful. I was numb, I felt like I was in a dark cave, people’s voices came from afar and even the most effective circuit breaker like a smile or chuckle from my children did not reach me.

 Grief is a Process

 But now I see that those fearful dark days did have the nub of silver within. The long months of emotional hibernation had to happen to enable me to process the enormity of trauma and loss. The loss of my champion: our life together as I knew it, and as my sickness gripped harder, the dependence on others for my life.
The biblical metaphor of ‘death’s dark valley,’ fits the lonely dark space that had to be traversed, so change could occur.
As I emerged onto the gentler slopes of acceptance I started to appreciate the smallest things in life. I remember one morning hearing the birds sing, it had been long since I had heard their melodic call. As I listened and delighted in the bird’s song, I became aware of the blue-blueness of the sky. Life was no longer grey.

Determined Practice of Gratitude

Gratitude became a determined practice. I looked for it constantly. I pushed past other emotions like anger and confusion to find it. It became easier and easier to identify and expand that feeling of joy. And becoming more grateful with every passing day, I lost sight of things I lacked.
Scientific studies show how the practice of gratitude improves physical and psychological health, and it allows people to form stronger relationships and become more resilient.
I still practice gratitude today. But I do not say out loud ‘I am grateful for…..’ I do not keep a journal, or lie in bed at night and push myself to list three things that day that gave me a sense of gratitude. It is more a habit of awareness, being present in the pleasure and stretching the feeling so the warmth floods through my body.

I love ………

I love sun-kissed clean sheets on my bed, a garden tended with passion and dedication, a slow dance with my husband and singing loudly, a little off-key, in the shower – ‘I am still standing ……Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid, I’m still standing after all this time ……… ‘

Come on share with me,  what makes you grateful?