I remember the day I added Music to my list of health principles. My husband Paul and I were driving to a meeting. Neither one of us were in a mood to attend this event. My body was exhausted, my mind was tired and burnt out. Paul had had a stressful week and he also was less than enthusiastic. My head burned, my eyes were dull, my conversation had degenerated to grunts and groans. My throat was getting scratchy, and my body was sending me flu-like symptoms. True to our habit of being dependable, we pressed on, taking our bodies for granted without much awareness or regard. In an attempt to help, I searched for a tape to play on the car stereo system. I chose Don Campbell’s audio cassette tape entitled, “Heal Yourself With Your Own Voice”. We began to listen and to follow Don’s instructions for toning. He told us to use our voice to “tone” the vowels. Paul joined me in a loving act of support for my caterwauling. There we were, driving down the highway at 70 miles an hour, howling “AAAAAAAA-EEEEEEE-IIIIIIII-OOOOOO-UUUUUUUU”, and we began to laugh. We continued through the entire tape, following instructions to the letter. Fifty miles down the road, to my amazement, my energy returned full strength. Paul reported the same effect. Our mood had shifted toward positive, but more than that, a mysterious shift had taken place in my physical feelings. My throat didn’t feel sore, my flu symptoms were gone, my head had cleared, and my body felt great. We were both transformed into the prime of good, healthy body and mind and spirit. We were into a special new kind of intimacy. We had changed in a profound way. The results were that we actually enjoyed the meeting. We drove home in a nice, mellowed out state. In addition, the power of the effect lasted several days.
This event is one of many illustrations of the true power of music. Music changes our mood. There is growing evidence that music provides healing. Don Campbell has compiled an anthology of these possibilities in his book, Music: Physician for Times to Come. I first met Don Campbell when he was serving as accompanist for Jean Houston in her seminars. Jean’s work is in the nature of participatory theater which is life changing and stretches her students into becoming all that they can be. Don’s music supplied background support and stimulation. At that time, Don was also using many of Jean’s exercises and methods for his own life development. I heard him say to Dr. Houston, “This stuff works!” The stuff he referred to included her ingenious exercise on paradoxical walking. (See the note for directions to this). Don told me later that he did this exercise while he wrote his book, “The Musical Brain”. The writing flowed and he finished the book in a very short time. My relationship to Don Campbell has continued and I am fascinated at the way in which he has proven, time and again, the power of music.
Toning, chanting, speaking, singing, screaming, humming, grunting are a few of the ways in which we make music with our own voices. Campbell’s story of healing his life threatening blood clot in his own brain is a miracle of the power of one’s own voice and the use of humming. His story of healing is told in detail in his best selling book, The Mozart Effect.
Whether we play music in some band, make our own music, or simply listen to music, there is an effect on our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. At the foundation for good health is the concept of belonging. In Trinidad, the native children play their music on old steel drums made from oil barrels. Each person anticipates “Panorama”, which is the great festival on the island where all the steel bands ride on floats and play their music for several days. It is their way to belong. It creates a sense of family.
In my mother’s family, music was our best style of communing. Each of the six Kiker children played an instrument. Grandma Kiker would wash the dishes after their meals and her instructions to her children were, “Now you know what you must do.” This meant that they were to entertain her while she worked by playing music for her. And so it was that when we attended family reunions, each grandchild was expected to perform. We didn’t sit around and visit verbally. We made music and our communication was melodic, rhythmic, and very loving. It was our way of belonging. To this day, I feel good when I go to a home and see a piano there. That home seems impoverished to me if musical instruments are absent. Music is in my very bones, my DNA, my life, and is vital to my health. While it seems a mystery, I can personally attest to the power of music to balance in life.
My principles of health were formed in the years I was serving my clients as a professional therapist. I taught stress management classes, worked with local health organizations, providing hypnosis, guided imagery, and relaxation training. I had seen many real life examples of the connections between the mind and the body. The six principles of health which were the basis for my series of lessons all start with the letter M. Mouth, Meditation, Movement, Mission, Mentors, and Mirth. Today, the seventh of these is Music.
These health principles became my standard lecture. The idea that 1) the mouth had something to do with the way we stay healthy or get sick. What we eat, drink, take, smoke, or SAY has a lot to do with our physical and mental health. 2) Meditation in any form will allow our minds to be at ease. A mind at peace sets the stage for the body to return to healthy balance. 3) Mission means we have something to live for. Good evidence exists that when people retire with nothing to do, no contribution to make, they tend to get sick and die. 4) Mentors are important to our health. Life long learning is associated with life long health. An open, active mind prevents the atrophy of our brain cells. A mentor is someone who provides information, encouragement, counselling, and relationship. 5) Movement of mind and body is necessary. The old saying, “Move it or lose it” applies to mind as well as body. 6) Mirth, laughter, merriment, a positive attitude correlates with good health. Norman Cousins’ books speak to this principle. Positive mental attitude is positively correlated with good health.
Then came that drive where Paul and I toned the vowels. I knew I must add music to the list of health principles. Our bodies, according to quantum theory, are vibrational instruments. The heavy matter of our physical bodies vibrates at a certain frequency. Our emotional and mental “bodies” are vibratory, also. We are energy in motion. Our very existence is based on this prinicple. So, since we are vibrational beings, health principle number seven, Music, was the last on my list of the M’s of Health. I have witnessed the power of music to restore balance in our flow of energy; the power of music to establish moods; the power of music to change our moods; and the power of our own voices to create vibrational healing.
We continue to learn about the power of music. Currently, a group of my friends and I are hosting Don Campbell in Corpus Christi, Texas. We have created a year-long program featuring Don in his work with therapeutic sound. Information about our program, Corpus Christi Therapeutic Sound School, can be found by contacting us through our web site, CC Sound School.
Another program involving music and healing has been created by Fabien Maman of Boulder, Colorado. In this program, we went to LeCourmette, France for training in healing through sound, color, and movement. My husband and I practice daily the Chi Gong (Tao Yin Fa) method of movement as Fabien teaches it in his Tama Do Academy. We have also learned how to do acupuncture using tuning forks instead of needles. We have a set of chimes which are suspended over our massage table . We play the chimes in conjunction with touching body on certain acupressure points, while bathing the body in colored lights corresponding to the seven chakra energy centers. We have experienced miraculous transformations in mind, body, and spirit from these treatments. I am more convinced now than ever that music is a source of great power. Through the experience of music in its many forms, we can restore balance to the flow of energy in our bodies. Further power releases us to travel the spiral of expanded, evolving potential of the human body and mind, working together toward a vibrational new stage. Perhaps we are touching the edges of the real Aquarian age, where we will become our true essential selves in new and vibrant form.