Music as Medicine can Help you Feel Well

Music as Medicine can Help you Feel Well

Music is magnificent. Music as medicine is free of all unpleasant side-effects! It can sooth, relax, enliven, energise and move us to dance. It evokes memories, provides an atmosphere, enhances a celebration, sends a message and facilitates the expression of our emotions. Music can help us journey to other worlds, create imagery, bring people together, and even shift energy blockages.

Music as medicine
I often take music for granted but it is something I am actually truly grateful for. Playing instruments was a big part of my childhood and teenage years.
I can remember practising for music exams an hour each day and finding it so calming and meditative. That was before I even knew what meditation was! I am sad I haven’t carried that on into adulthood, although there is still time to get back on that horse, even though it doesn’t feel like it!
There was a time in my 20s when I realised that I wasn’t at ease unless there was some background noise, such as the radio or television. I was aware that this was not healthy to be uncomfortable with silence, so I made a conscious effort to switch everything off and I grew to really love silence. In the years that followed, I was training in sound therapy and was very focused on sound but still did not listen to any music at home anymore. It didn’t hold any interest for me anymore strangely and I seemed to be more attuned to pure frequencies, so would enjoy toning, drumming and playing my singing bowls at home but again was mostly in silence.
Then one day we had to pick a few pieces of music to listen to as homework for the course. We had to lie down with closed eyes and really listen to the tracks with every part of our being. It was a very moving experience and I had profound emotions, sensations and memories arising whilst listening. It reminded me of the power that music holds and I have brought it back into my life again at times when it feels right. However, mostly I have to admit I am still quite hooked on the silence when I am at home. Maybe it is a response to a noisy family life!

As a trained sound therapist I have experienced the power of sound to heal first hand and witnessed my clients having breakthroughs physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. In 2013 Lyz Cooper of BAST (British Academy of Sound Therapy) teamed up with Marconi Union to produce a piece of music. The intention was to make the track as relaxing as possible. The scientific research done on the track afterwards showed that it was the most relaxing piece of music they had found. Amazing! The track was embedded with healing frequencies and rhythms that sound therapists use regularly. It was interesting to me that even played through digital music players, the effects of the sacred sound frequencies still had the power to relax the listener very significantly.

 

Here is the full length 31 minute extended version of the track if you would like to kick back and have a listen.

Prepare to be very very relaxed!!

 

 

This year Lyz Cooper produced another track with duo Silence & Air to help people enjoy a restful sleep. I was part of the research study group and I have to say that when I listened to it before bed it definitely helped get to sleep quickly and have a deep restful sleep. The results of the research on this track were also highly significant. You can learn more about the study here and listen to the track for yourself. For more information about ways in which to enjoy restful sleep, have a look at my post on 8 easy ways to get more rest.
Music as mecicine

Examples of music as medicine:

I have a wonderful friend who has sadly experienced ME/CFS and PTSD amongst other physical imbalances of many years. She decided in the last year to take up her practice of piano playing again after having not played for many years. Therapy, acupuncture and hypnotherapy led her to this point of being able to clear the blocks that were stopping her from playing. Her experience has been that the playing of music has incredibly healing for her.
She has shared that it helped her unlock her heart blockages and release fear and trauma. It helped her express her emotions non-verbally and stimulated her creativity when she was improvising. She also finds the regularity and stability of practising pieces and scales very balancing and comforting. I wonder if she has benefited from the right/left brain balancing that is inherent in playing with both hands as she says that she finds it easier to focus and her brain fog has lessened. She has also built up some strength in her hands and wrists which previously caused her a lot of pain. It has brought her a purpose for living again when confined to indoors with ME so much of the time. Of course, the music that arises also brings her joy, as it did me when I heard her playing her beautiful pieces.
“Sound is the force of creation, the true whole. Music then, becomes the voice of the great cosmic oneness and therefore the optimal way to reach this final state of healing.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927)
 
Music as mecicine
I know of another young man who used his music to survive his schizophrenia. It helped him push the voices away and soothed his troubled mind at a time when his medication was not working well. For him, music was essential to help him navigate his illness.
My husband Anthony has always played the guitar and spent many happy years busking on his travels. Since we have been together I have always noticed that when he is feeling down, he will pick up his guitar and play and sing and it soothes and uplifts him. I think that the guitar is especially healing in this way as the vibrations emanate directly from the body of the guitar which is resting on the player’s abdomen.
Music as mecicine

My vision of music as medicine in the future:

The future of medicine could be the application of sound frequencies to clear blockages and restore healthy energy. Imagine a device installed in your home that would scan your bodies energy and then emit the frequencies you needed to rebalance yourself embedded in a piece of relaxing music that would be played throughout your home. How cool would that be?!
“Eventually, musical therapists will compose prescriptions after the manner of a pharmacist…”
Dr. Ira Altschuler (of the Eloise State Hospital) (1942)

Sign up below for blog news and upcoming bonuses!

The Trauma and Chronic Illness Connection

The Trauma and Chronic Illness Connection

Trauma is defined in the dictionary as ” a deeply distressing or disturbing experience”. Trauma and chronic illness are intimately linked as I will discuss in this post. I believe the peer-reviewed evidence of this is not being acted upon and taken forward by the medical profession.
Trauma is clearly a very stressful experience but it is important to remember that experiences are subjective. I think that there is a tendency for people to think of trauma as being caused by a very extreme situation. However, trauma experienced is very personal. What traumatises one person will not bother another.  It depends on our emotional make-up and sensitivities, and what can seem trivial to one person can be devastating for another. It is the individual’s experience of the event and their ability to cope with it that determines whether it is trauma or not.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is not only a condition suffered by war veterans and accident survivors. It can affect anyone and many people who have lived “ordinary” lives have developed PTSD from events that are emotionally complex but not as outwardly dramatic as the better-known triggers of PTSD.
Everyone experiences trauma at some point in their lives. Traumas trigger reactive feelings and emotions, which form the beliefs that consciously and subconsciously underpin the way we live our lives. These beliefs create dense areas in our energy fields which can then lead to illness and disease.
trauma and chronic illness

More evidence is coming to light now about how trauma affects our health and some experts now believe that early trauma, in particular, is instrumental in the causation of chronic illness. Of course, it also can lead to substance dependence and mental health disorders. For some great information on trauma and chronic illness have a look at Veronique Mead’s blog Chronic Illness Trauma Studies. There is a wealth of well researched and groundbreaking information on the blog and I am looking forward to reading it in more depth.

Jennifer McLean who developed the Spontaneous Transformation Technique gives this example of how negative limiting beliefs can be formed from trauma.
trauma and chronic illness
She describes a young boy who is having a great day out playing with his skateboard. The sun is shining, he is getting the hang of his skateboard tricks and life is great. He is in bliss.

On the way home, he is playing with a stick as he walks, and he starts to run the stick along the fence, enjoying the noise as it clatters along the fence. The large dog on the other side of the fence is not so impressed and starts to bark furiously. The dog even manages to leap the fence and starts to attack the boy. Luckily, the owner quickly grabs the dog and rescues the boy. The poor boy is physically unhurt but is shocked and terrified. He runs home crying, leaving his skateboard on the pavement.

He gets home to his Mum who is up to her ears with making dinner for her large family. She scans the boy as he walks in, as he tries to breathlessly explain what has happened. She sees quickly that he is physically unhurt but when she finds out that his expensive skateboard is lost, she yells at him and sends him to his room in a rage.
trauma and chronic illness
Now the boy is still in “flight or fight” mode with adrenaline rushing through his body and he is really upset that he got a roasting from his Mum.
In this moment his subconscious creates some beliefs about life, for example:
Life is scary and unsafe.
Bliss doesn’t last and things go wrong when you are enjoying yourself. 
Things are more important than people.
 
This leads him to have issues later in life with trust, committing to relationships and being more interested in possessions than other people. Many other beliefs could also have been formed. This great example shows how even traumas from childhood that have been long forgotten, can still be running the show and causing multiple limiting beliefs that make life more challenging and frustrating.
Ideally, a child can respond to stress and recover from it, developing resiliency. However, chronic repeated stress in childhood constantly floods the child’s body with stress hormones and keeps it in a hypervigilant inflammatory state. It can interfere with the child’s ability to turn off or dampen the stress response. The cascade of chemical reactions that occur in the child’s body on a regular basis can then predispose them to disease and imbalances on every level of being.
I have done an enormous amount of work on myself in releasing trauma and the limiting beliefs formed from my early and young adult life and it has helped my health and well-being enormously. There are more to clear and I have been somebody who held literally hundreds of negative limiting beliefs about life and myself. I am reassured now though, as I am able to use my therapy skills to clear these blockages and open my arms to greater health, happiness, joy and abundance.
trauma and chronic illness

 

Here are some examples of therapies or techniques that release trauma and limiting beliefs:

I personally prefer techniques that work with trauma from an energetic healing perspective rather than a psychological so that is what i have listed here. I feel that these therapies are more holistic and provide deeper transformation more quickly and easily than psychological methods. They don’t require reliving the trauma in an upsetting way or analysing the psychological aspects of the trauma which can be mentally exhausting. That is just my preference, however, and one can find many other models of therapy online should you resonate with a different path. For more information on using energy medicine to improve chronic illness see my post on energy healing here.

 

trauma and chronic illness

The need to acknowledge the role of trauma in the aetiology of disease:

Research linking childhood stress to adult illness was carried out in 1996 with the “The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study)”. Over 1500 peer-reviewed studies have replicated these findings in the last 20 years.
Amazingly, in this study carried out in 2009, they found that compared with persons with no ACEs, persons with >or=2 ACEs had 100% increased risk for rheumatic diseases. Childhood traumatic stress increases the likelihood of hospitalisation with a diagnosed autoimmune disease decades into adulthood.
The research is extensive, widespread and conclusive but yet there is little focus on the importance of this root cause of disease in the conventional healthcare system. There are so many excellent techniques, energetic and psychological therapies available now to deal with the roots of trauma and chronic illness. I would like to see this being more widely available and focused upon by medical practitioners, as I believe it is a crucial part of the puzzle when it comes to resolving chronic diseases, giving people hope and a brighter future.

Please comment below if you feel trauma has contributed to your Chronic Illness.

How to keep that holiday feeling!

How to keep that holiday feeling!

I just had the pleasure of a holiday in Gran Canaria with my family. We were given the opportunity to stay in a five-star hotel by an incredibly generous friend and it was wonderful. (Thank you, dear friend).  Of course, there were the usual family holiday calamities, one son with a 24hr fever and sickness, another son with a sprained ankle and my husband giving himself a whiplash injury and misaligned vertebrae after being dared to ride the “Take-off” waterslide at the waterpark on our last day. Needless to say, he took off. Then he landed. He was in a lot of pain for over a week, bless him. Amazingly, for once, I was the one that stayed well and injury-free. It might have something to do with the fact that I barely left my sun lounger but hey, I was practising relaxing! Now that I am back home, I am practising hanging on to that lovely holiday feeling and it is challenging!
holiday feeling
So we had a lovely time (mostly) and had begun to sink into a more relaxed way of being after 10 days. It can take a while to slow down from the crazy pace of modern life but we were enjoying that process. Lots of sunbathing, swimming and a few glasses of Rosé definitely helped! Also, the little health setbacks meant that we couldn’t do many day trips and so were forced to just spend more time around the pool, and reading on the balcony which was no hardship!
 “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”           John Lubboc 
holiday feeling

Time to go home!

Here is how to know your holiday is over!

1) Mess up by only downloading 1 boarding card onto your phone the night before leaving.
2) Have the lady at the check-in desk (of a well-known budget Irish airline) insist on you removing 3 kg from your case despite the flight being less than half full. (How I love to open my case full of laundry and medicines for all the queue to see at 5.30am.)
3) Have the lady at the check-in desk put one case through but not the other as only one boarding pass on your phone.
4) Make sure your phone starts to get buggy and malfunction, and the airport wifi is chronically intermittent.
6) Start to panic as time is marching on.
7) Watch helplessly as three guys with surfboards to check-in are next in line.
8) Watch more time tick past as you frustratingly try to download the airline app the lady is insisting on you having.
9) Start feeling like crying as your children watch you getting more stressed and panicky.
10) Finally get to the front of the queue again to be told the gate is closing despite the fact you have been stood there for an hour trying to sort it out.
11) Scoot over to the main desk with teary wide-eyed children to plead with the irritated flight manager. Cue angry phone conversation in Spanish.
12) Run back to the check-in desk to finally receive boarding cards and sprint to the gate, as best you can with injured family members and stiff joints.
13) Breathlessly explain to the non-plussed, chilled and smiley gate attendant your 60-second version of events, to be told that the gate is still open and not to worry!! Grr!
14) Spend the first 60 mins of your flight deep breathing to normalise your adrenaline levels and calm the hell down.
15) Land back home with the sketchiest bumpiest touchdown ever!
16) Travel on 4 separate trains to get back home with kids, footballs and multiple bags in tow.
17) Send your husband off to the chiropractor and sit down with a cup of tea to open your mail.
18) Open the first letter to find out that you have been given 2 months notice to move out of your house …

Welcome Home!

Was it worth it?
Of course!
(After all, it wasn’t quite as stressful as the time we went to Portugal and our eldest son developed concussion two hours before we were due to leave for our return flight. Cue an ambulance ride, lots of explanations in bad Spanish from us, a crazy rushed drive to the airport, followed by us hurriedly cleaning vomit from the hire car at the last minute! But hey that’s a whole other story!)
holiday feeling

How to keep that holiday feeling!

So, I have decided to do the following to keep my holiday feeling going (despite everything!):

  • Get outside in the sun as often as possible, but also whatever the weather.
  • Be in nature, forests and by the sea often.
  • Eat outside when possible and make new exotic recipes.
  • Go swimming as often as possible. (We have a new Lido that has opened up near us that we can go and check out.)
  • Make Mocktails so that you are having fun drinks, but without the excess alcohol.
  • Stay away from too much telly and devices.
  • Keep reading more as it is very relaxing, enjoyable and creatively stimulating.
  • Go on some day trips to new places.
  • Get some of your best holiday photos printed and in frames so that you can enjoy the memories.
  • Do things each day that make you happy!

 

Sign up for my free newsletter below!

How to Eat Out Stress-Free with a Special Diet

How to Eat Out Stress-Free with a Special Diet

I have been on my very restrictive Autoimmune Protocol Diet for over two years now and it has been transformational in reducing inflammation in my body. I am used to it now and am slowly re-introducing foods, and even though it can be boring if I don’t make the effort to make new recipes, I am quite happy with it.
Eating out at restaurants and other people’s houses, however, can be a real challenge. If you, like me, are restricted in this way you will know what it is like. You just want to be able to eat out stress-free when you have a special diet, and not end up feeling like a troublemaker or ending up getting ill due to ingesting some food that is detrimental to you.
I have developed different ways of dealing with these hurdles that can make the whole process easier for you and your friends and family…and the waiter/waitress for that matter! After all, eating out should be a relaxing enjoyable experience for everyone.

Social difficulties of special dietary requirements:

  • Embarrassment and stress due to feeling like you are being difficult.
  • Feeling like you are being an unreasonable or ungrateful dinner guest.
  • Not wanting to put more work onto others.
  • Awkwardness in restaurants.
  • Pressure from family to just be “normal”.
  • Friends and family having difficulty understanding the reasons for your diet.
  • Potluck events can be tricky as there is little or nothing you can eat except your own offering.
  • The temptation to eat something you shouldn’t just to make it easier for others.
eat out stress-free with a special diet

Tools and tricks:

Communicating your needs:

  • Spend some time planning how to explain the reasons for your diet and how it benefits your health. I sometimes like to say that I am on a prescribed diet plan recommended by my nutritionist (which is true!).
  • Practice a short clear explanation of what happens to you in the following days if you break your own diet rules.
  • Ask for exactly what you want in restaurants. eg ask if it is possible to just have fish/meat fried plain in olive oil with some steamed vegetables.  I like to imagine I am a famous actress or pop star and say what they would say..smile often and ask politely of course!

Planning:

  • Advance planning is crucial. Get ahead by checking restaurants online menus, then email them to explain your requirements in advance. This saves a lot of the hassle and the chef will hopefully have a written record of what your requirements are on the day.
  • Aim for restaurants that make lots of fresh salads and simple grilled meats and fish. Identify sides of greens or salad that you can have in advance and swap them in for other disallowed foods.
  • Look on Paleo and Coeliac websites in advance for ideas of 100% gluten-free restaurants.
  • Take your own food contribution to dinner parties if that is helpful. Make it yummy so others will want to share too to make you feel less excluded.
  • Take your own seasonings to restaurants and dinner invitations.
  • Email friends/family some recipes that you can eat if that seems appropriate.
  • Print out allowed/forbidden foods for the family.
  • If it is a work lunch, it may be easier to just take your own food as you may be time-limited.
eat out stress-free with a special diet

Staying on track with special diet:

  • Think about ways of saying ” no thanks” to offers of food that don’t offend the person offering and allow them to eat it happily in front of you. eg. That looks delicious, and I would love to eat it, but my diet doesn’t allow it. You go ahead, I am going to have a herbal tea, fruit salad, or whatever..”
  • Sometimes eating in advance of the event is helpful, nothing worse than going hungry!
  • Be appreciative of any extra effort made by others to accommodate your requests rather than apologising guiltily. There is nothing to be guilty about, you have a medical condition, take care of yourself.
  • Tip well in restaurants for the extra effort made.
  • Stay strong in your convictions and don’t be swayed by others saying ” Just a little won’t harm you!” You know it will!

So with great planning ahead, clear compassionate communication and an attitude of gratitude, eating out will be something you can enjoy thoroughly. We certainly deserve a break from the kitchen and missing out socially is not beneficial to our mental health. So I encourage you to do your research but to also to keep a sense of humour as the best-laid plans..and all that…

 

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf Click To Tweet

 

Sign up for my free newsletter below!

Why is Asking for Help so Difficult?

Why is Asking for Help so Difficult?

Asking for help is something that can be surprisingly difficult. Sometimes people don’t have clear boundaries and find it hard to say no to requests when they want to or need to. If you are someone with poor boundaries, and limits, you may feel that others do too. You may presume that they will feel pressured to say yes to a request when in fact they may be fine with that. This can lead to an unwillingness to ask others.
Trusting that the other person has their boundaries in place makes it easier to ask. In this high-speed environment that we all reside in now it is common to be stressed and under pressure, and so it is unsurprising that we may not want to ask a favour from another person.
asking for help

What if we all asked for help when we needed it?

I find it hard to even imagine, but my vision is of a world where we would be a lot less overwhelmed as we are sharing our skills and energy, and playing to our strengths.
These days not many people in the UK have a network of a community to rely on. There are online groups and support networks, and those can be very helpful but they don’t help you pick up the kids when you are ill, or help you move a fridge freezer. We need supportive friends and community networks to help alleviate pressure and loneliness.
Over the years there have been hundreds of times when I could have done with some help. I have not found it easy to ask at all. My previous friendship group has fractured somewhat as people changed, moved away and had families. I don’t have regular contact with most of them and although I have been happy to make a few new good friends, some of them have chronic illnesses and others live further away. I feel like I am in a transition time of finding my new tribe and it is taking some time. I yearn for community and social contact but as many stay-at-home mothers are now finding, I can go for days on end without any other adult contact. It seems the advent of technology has isolated us more than ever.
People have unique personalities and quirks, and some people love doing what I hate to do, and vice versa. For example, someone who loves animals may be more than happy to pet sit for a week, someone who needs a change of scene or a retreat may jump at the chance of a housesit. Some people even love to clean and declutter or do accounts!! So I think if we could all get better at asking for help and use our online social networks to communicate with each other, then we could build more community support and enjoy reciprocal arrangements.
It is not always necessary to repay or swap either. If you think of times when you have helped someone (willingly) it feels good! Helping others brings feelings of generosity and kindness and that is an uplifting sensation.

So why can we find it so hard to ask for help?

I think that we are trained socially to believe that only children need help and once we are an adult, we are supposed to know what we are doing and be capable of it all. With the rise of mental health issues in younger age groups this needs to change. The stigma around seeking help when you have a mental health condition is still huge and the levels of suicide in young men particularly are shocking.

“Being first to ask for help in a friendship takes courage and humility.” Afton Rorvik Click To Tweet

The barriers to asking for help:

  • Pride
  • Not wanting to burden someone else
  • Fear of rejection or being ignored
  • Embarrassment
  • Fear of seeming incompetent or weak
  • Shyness
  • Fear of being judged or even labelled
  • Not wanting to feel indebted
  • Feeling vulnerable
  • Not knowing who to ask or where to go for support
  • Hoping the problem will go away by itself
Pride can be a big one for men in this culture, perhaps as men have been landed with this model of being a strong, tough bread-winner. Essentially though this is just a distortion of the ego energy that may well have been passed down through generations. This variety of pride is unhelpful and best dropped as it prevents authenticity and any movement towards gaining support.

The benefits of asking for help:

  • Less stress
  • Getting things done that wouldn’t be possible otherwise
  • New outlooks, possibilities and ideas.
  • Learning new techniques and tools
  • Lessening of overwhelm
  • Sharing problems
  • May lead to a helpful diagnosis
  • It allows the other person the gift of giving
  • Takes pressure off the family unit
  • Reducing loneliness
  • Making deeper friendships

Here’s how to do it!

 

  • Ask the other person at a time when they have space and time to listen
  • Ask someone who is likely to be willing to give freely, not someone with a history of manipulation or deal making.
  • Ask from a place of truth and integrity
  • Be clear and direct
  • Explain specifically what it is you need support with, it could be something as simple as having someone to listen to you.
  • Trust that the other person will say no if they choose to.
  • Remember if the other person says no, they are saying no to the task, not to you personally.
  • If they say yes, express gratitude!
You can access help from your GP, counsellors, or organisations and charities. In general, these can all be found easily online but the GP is the first option if you are unable to find this information.
If children don’t see parents asking for help then they don’t witness the modelling of that behaviour and they will be less likely to ask for help themselves when they move into young adulthood. Surely that is a time when they might need help, guidance and support the most.
I am going to try to put this advice I have come up with into practice this week. I am thinking that practice makes it easier.
Why don’t you give someone the gift of being able to help others this week, by asking clearly for some support? Go on, I dare you! What’s the worst that could happen?

Please sign up below for my free newsletter.

Pin It on Pinterest