Currently viewing the tag: "healing"

Part 2

Brain statesIn part one of this series, I discussed how former drug users might benefit physically by taking up a regular meditation program. I also touched on how former drug users are at an advantage when it comes to “finding the Self”, as the mind-altering action of some drugs approximates the deeper states of meditation. In this piece, I will address a few mental and inspirational elements that regular meditators enjoy, which will also help former drug users find what we are all ultimately looking for—a deeper connection to our true Selves—all while keeping them off dangerous drugs.

The Way I Cope

Drugs not only make the body feel good, they make the mind feel invincible. Amphetamines were given to World War II pilots as a way to keep them awake and alert on numerous sorties throughout the war. Even today, speed-like drugs are given to ADD-labeled children and adults to help them concentrate. Drugs do, in fact, enhance our mental capacities in the short-term. Whether talking stimulants for alertness and concentration, or the mind-expanding quality of hallucinogenics: the primary use of many recreational drugs is for altering mind-states.

Stress copingGoing within via meditation also alters consciousness states. As we deepen our meditative practices, we pass through states of consciousness that simulate dream states or even deep sleep (albeit consciously). It is for this reason that former drug users have a hand up on most non-users—they know what it feels like to pass through these varying stages of consciousness. When meditating, the former drug user will recognize and feel a sense of calm, ease and comfort passing through these stages. Call it an acquired skill to feel comfortable as one makes it through these transitions. The average person often must take several passes through a consciousness state to feel comfortable enough to allow it to happen on its own without a mental disruption or dispersion of the state.

From a mind perspective, meditation has also been shown to decrease anxiety—a godsend to anybody who uses, or has used, drugs at one time or another “to cope.” Studies have shown meditation increases stress adaptability as well. Or plainly, regular meditators handle stress better—one reason some people turn to drugs to begin with. Further, meditators have been found to feel less lonely. It is well known that loneliness is associated with increased incidence of illness and death. A regular meditation practice, then, goes a long way to preserve the psychological, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Finally, regular meditators have been found to have increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for executive function, while simultaneously decreasing activity in the amygdala, the area of emotional reaction. Executive function encompasses a number of mental processes, but put simply, this region is responsible for inhibiting emotional outbursts or impulsive behaviors. The amygdala, on the other hand, is the area where memory, decision-making and emotion work together to elicit quick responses. These two regions are regularly at odds with one another, balancing how we wish to act—venomous anger for example—with how we contain ourselves. The amygdala in teens, for instance, develops much more rapidly than the prefrontal cortex, leading to more reactionary decisions and impulsive behavior (one reason teens are at higher risk for accidents). But by meditating regularly, executive function is enhanced while reactionary amygdala function is depressed, and thus the practitioner becomes more poised and disciplined, thinking things through rather than exploding in unrestrained emotion.

The Voice I Hear

Woodstock-1969Some people have had spiritual experiences on drugs, as attendees at Woodstock or today’s raves might attest. This is because chemical substances acting on the brain can open doors to insights, compassion and even a feeling of “oneness,” things we ultimately all crave as human beings. For this reason, many habitual drug users return again and again to drugs to relive a temporary experience which we intuitively feel should be more permanent.

Users who have spiritual experiences are correct in their intuition—feelings of oneness are our birthright, and they should persist beyond the temporary high felt from drugs. The only way to tap into this eternal unity is by going within and awakening to the Self. While the term Self is actually interchangeable with many others—God, the absolute, the final reality, etc—it is incomplete and incapable of fully describing what yogis would call the source of all things. No matter which name you give it, this source is what we all truly want: reconnecting with the Self is the inner drive which underlies all human desire. And it is exactly this which is the basis for people turning to drugs.

When we uncover our true Selves, however, we concurrently uncover the bliss inherent in our source of being. Through this uncovering we come to realize that we exist in this material dimension (our form) for a purpose, and the deeper we go within, the stronger our realization of our life’s purpose becomes. But interestingly for the former drug user is that this realization also brings to light the purpose of the chosen path of substance abuse. Most people enter professions where they wish to make a difference, either in an area which they perceive themselves to have failed in the past, or in an area which they themselves have been helped. It is not surprising then that many former drug users, myself included, look to make a difference in the world of recovery—helping other addicts shake the illusions of the high drugs provide, and in finding the truth inherent in uncovering the Self.

Helping Drug AddictsRegular meditators have also been found to cultivate greater compassion—for themselves and others. Why is this important? Because it is so easy to beat oneself up for perceived mistakes one has made, and every other shame and guilt that comes along with drug addiction. Having compassion for one’s choices comes from a deep understanding that one receives as a result of going within. By understanding the greater purpose of our choices, we can open up to a world of gratitude for the life we have lived, and how it has lead us down our current inspired path. The highest service in life comes through giving from a place of compassion—the I-have-been-there-before state of empathy. Nobody can relate to this more than former drug users who have dedicated their lives to helping others, and this compassion is enhanced by a regular meditation practice.

Meditation has also been found to improve a person’s skill at introspection—the ability to reflect on one’s life and oneself mentally and emotionally. People who have a strong ability for introspection come to know themselves better, make better choices, and experience greater growth spurts emotionally and spiritually. As a consequence, meditation also opens the floodgates to inspiration, so creativity is enhanced as one quiets the mind of its incessant chatter and allows the Self to reflect unimpeded. Most creative geniuses have a way of tapping in—meditation is one surefire way to unleash our inherent potential and express creative genius. Start today to take advantage of this power we all possess.

OnenessPeople typically return to drugs to recreate an experience that brought them close to feeling the bliss of oneness with all things. That is because drugs open doors to states of consciousness which simulate stages we pass through along the path to union—the known deeper states of meditation. Drug-induced altered states of consciousness, however, are short-lived and they come with many unwanted side effects, most treacherously death. But what drug users are searching for is what all people ultimately search for: the bliss that comes from awakening to our true Selves. While many paths to the Self exist, meditation is time-tested and proven; its effects are long-term, and its many changes are permanent. Drugs will never bring the seeker what he or she is looking for, because like all external experiences, they are transitory and illusory by nature. Only by going within and uncovering the true Self will an individual find what he instinctively seeks: union with the entire universe. Meditation is a tool available to all of us—rich, poor, young, old, male or female—to bring us in-touch with our true essence, while enhancing our lives in body, mind and spirit. But even more astoundingly, former drug users may be at an advantage as they have experience in passing through various altered states in which the average, non-drug user is not so immediately comfortable. These reasons seem overwhelmingly encouraging for those in recovery to take on a meditation practice. Turn on and tune in, if you will, and you will find exactly what you have always been looking for.

Part 1

Cocaine BlissDrug addiction is a form of seeking. The high we get from drugs is the closest thing to the altered states of consciousness that are the hallmark of deeper states of meditation, including samadhi, and thus drug users—most unconsciously—are seeking what we all are: the internal source of bliss. Bliss can only be achieved from within, whether it be inspiration, fulfillment, joy or any other state of being; it is an inside job. Drug addiction, then, is like any other attachment to the external world—it is our seeking fulfillment from things outside of us.

The quest for bliss, or a something other than what we experience in the purely physical world, is a real and ubiquitous drive—a universal human yearning. We bounce from experience to experience, desire to desire, and even relationship to relationship—what the yogis would call gaining knowledge—seeking this bliss. And all these quests for the outer are necessary to lead us to the reality of the inner. Drugs and chemical highs are no exception. In fact, former drug users may even be at an advantage on this quest, as the altered states so familiar to substance abusers most closely approximates the different states the meditator passes through on his or her way to Self-realization.

Learning the Self is the most rewarding experience we can have, as it lasts a lifetime. While every former drug user has learned invaluable lessons about herself, only through conscious awareness and awakening can true Knowledge—and all it affords—be had. In seeking the Self the greatest of all fulfillments is ours—the bliss we are never able to find in outer experiences. By taking on this quest, the former drug user has the greatest probability of remaining clean, because what is a temporary high when compared to bliss?

russell brand meditatingThe quest to “find” the Self can be carried out by a number of paths. One such path is meditation. Meditation, the art of silencing the mind and going within, is a profound practice, one which has a number of short and long term benefits for the former drug user. The benefits range from the physical, like a decreased risk of debilitating cardiac events, to the mental (increased emotional control), to the spiritual, like greater creative inspiration. In the following paragraphs, I will touch upon these benefits of body, mind and spirit to encourage former users to take up the habit of going within. I am certain that when I am finished you will see that the enormous advantages the practice of meditation affords are far greater than any momentary highs we get from drugs.

The Way I Feel

Dopamine system

Click to enlarge

Drugs feel good—we can thank the dopamine system for that. But the physiological sensations resulting from drug actions are temporary and come with the risks of tolerance, withdrawal and potential overdose. Going within, on the other hand, particularly via the path of meditation, provides physiological changes which are longer lasting, and many even permanent. These physical changes can feel good too, but they are subtle and come on gradually, so there is really no high with true meditation.

Meditation has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiac events—like heart attack and stroke—by one half. At risk African American men and women were given either a meditation program, muscle relaxation exercises or conventional health education courses. Those participants who meditated had nearly half the risk of suffering a cardiac event. These findings are particularly valuable for recovering methamphetamine and cocaine users, as stimulants can stress the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels). Further, the practice of pranayama (breath control) works to slow the metabolism, bringing down heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. These physiological changes are imperative for any person who has been artificially speeding up their cardiovascular system with drugs.

Meditation also has been shown to reduce pain, fatigue and depression. Many people who suffer from chronic illness turn to drugs to alleviate pain. A 2010 study showed that an eight-week course of mindfulness training reduced all three symptoms above, and improved health-related quality of life for people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). As any long-term drug user will tell you: part of the package that comes with substance abuse is pain, fatigue and ultimately depression. Here we now have evidence of the power of going within for alleviating these overloading sensations which often plague chronic drug users.

healingFinally meditation may lead to improved healing—something every drug user needs, as repeated use of chemicals can and does lead to breakdown of the body. Both inflammation and immunity are altered by meditation. Inflammatory processes have been observed to diminish, while immune function has been found to increase in regular meditators. As self-healing, self-regulating organisms, we need our innate powers to function unimpeded. While drug use hinders our healing abilities, quieting the mind and going within enhances them instead. Choose meditation and watch your miraculous regenerative powers operate in full force as your body and mind return to their most optimal functioning states.

mind-body-spirit

Two important studies for mind-body dynamics have been recently published showing more evidence for the crucial role of the mind in the healing process.While it might be tempting to think that healing is of a purely physical nature, evidence is surfacing to show us just how integral the mind really is in the process. These current studies just deepen the possibility that the mental is as important as physical when it comes to the body’s recovery, restoration and repair.

The most interesting aspect of these findings, however, are being largely ignored by the researchers, I believe. While I agree with the conclusions on both studies, I think that they are merely touching the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps they feel the necessity to remain conservative in their analysis, so as not to push any paradigmatic parameters, but I think their results reveal something even bigger—and a massive opening for further research. Check it:

The first study, published in the December 2012 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science, looked at people who had undergone surgery for the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a common and serious knee injury. Participants were split into two groups—one receiving rehab only and one receiving rehab plus guided imagery (a form of visualization). Both groups completed six months of rehab. The guided imagery was carried out with the help of a therapist, and included mentally rehearsing physical therapy exercises, as well as visualizing the physiological healing process—for example, scar tissue breaking up and gentle stretching. The group practicing the guided imagery showed greater improvement in knee stability and decreased levels of stress hormones. Wow!

The second study, conducted at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and published in the February 2012 issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, looked at a group of patients scheduled to undergo gallbladder removal. Again the patients were split into two groups—one receiving standard care only, and the other receiving standard care plus relaxation and guided imagery techniques for three days prior and seven days after surgery.

“We used a relaxation intervention to try to reduce stress and therefore get a better inflammatory response to surgery and improve healing.” ~ Elizabeth Broadbent, professor of medicine, University of Auckland, in New Zealand

Visualize HealingThe first three days of guided imagery were focused on being relaxed and ready for the surgery, while the seven days following the procedure were focused on the body’s healing process (the group visualized oxygen and nutrients travelling to the wound site and helping the body knit the skin back together, easing discomfort, and providing “soothing relief.”) The group practicing the imaging techniques reported a larger reduction in stress than the control group, while their wound showed signs of greater collagen deposition and faster healing. Booyah!

But here is where I feel that both sets of  authors might be practicing a bit of conservative caution. They believe that their results showed, most predominantly, a decreased stress response, which is what improved healing. Now there’s no doubt in my mind that this is an essential piece to the puzzle—yet it is merely one piece, I believe, and a small one at that. What these studies say to me is that the mind is a major player in the healing process (and all physiological processes for that matter), and by using it in a focused manner—by visualizing details of the physiological mechanism of healing—we can actually guide the process along. Because, you see, I am certain we ‘create’ physical phenomena all the time. We already know that we can stimulate physiological processes (like heart rate and ventilation) by visualizing physical exertion (like running on a treadmill). So it’s no surprise to me that study participants increased their healing response by visualizing it happening on the cellular and molecular level.

I introduce this concept in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, where I describe the digestive process in detail, and encourage readers to visualize the process as they eat a meal, to enhance digestion (more on this in a future post). Yes I am sure guided imagery also helped the subjects relax, and that the decreased stress response assisted in recovery by creating an environment conducive to healing. But I just can’t ignore the real possibility that by mentally visualizing the physical processes unfolding the entire phenomenon is enhanced in some way. It makes me recall the neurological findings that our bodies already carry out some ‘conscious’ physical actions before we are actually aware of them. So, somehow, we are not as conscious of our actions as we think. Just tells me there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to our physiological processes—obvious when we consider things like daily autonomic functions, but maybe not so much (although equally possible) when considering less rhythmic, yet equally regular, processes like healing.

Mind-body healingNow I know at least one criticism to my thoughts on this subject will be: But people heal all the time without visualizing the process, so that can’t be the sole, or even the primary, factor in healing…to which I would reply: Right, because on some level everybody is in-tune with the fact that, as living organisms, we do heal…so that belief, that understanding, that expectation, is already playing a role in the healing process, even if unconsciously. However, by focusing conscious thought on the healing process itself, I believe that it is possible to enhance the outcome, and these studies only seem to add credence to this notion. The real beauty in all of this is that for the open-minded scientist these findings are preliminary data that can and should lead to more detailed studies in the future investigating the mind’s role in the physiological mechanisms that make up the healing process. Pretty cool if you ask me.

So I’ve recently posted on dry brushing–a health and beauty secret that I’ve used for two decades to help keep my skin soft and pliable. It also keeps my sensory system stimulated, and the blood and lymph flow circulating freely through their respective vessels, which in turn promotes a beautiful complexion.

But there’s a second practice to go along with dry brushing, and that’s the Scottish shower (Ss). The Ss is a practice of alternating hot and cold water while taking a shower. At a bare minimum, it’s finishing a shower with a blast of cold water. I’ve also been practicing this technique for many years, and the benefits are enormous.

The principle behind Scottish showers is that heat causes the blood vessels to move toward the surface in a process called vasodilation. The body does this to increase circulation, release heat, and promote healing. Cold, on the other hand, causes vasoconstriction–a narrowing of the blood vessels due to contraction of smooth muscle. The vessels also contract inward, deeper toward the organs of the body, preserving heat, reducing blood flow and decreasing blood pressure. Taken in alternating rounds, the hot then cold water blasts will induce a sort-of pumping action by the circulatory system, leading to a number of physiological benefits.

Scottish showers promote optimal temperature regulation by modifying the sensory functions of hypothalamic thermoregulatory centres to increase heat release during hot weather, and lowering heat loss during cold.

They also stimulate the neuroendocrine and immune systems. Studies have shown that the regular practice of taking cold showers increased white blood cells and the production of the body’s natural blood thinning enzymes, improving micro circulation. It also stimulated the production of testosterone in men, and boosted women’s production of estrogen.

Taking cold showers has also been shown to increase the body’s anti-oxidant capabilities, with a rise in glutathione and a reduction of uric acid. Low glutathione is involved in many illnesses including cardiovascular conditions, pulmonary diseases, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, aging, and toxic pesticide exposure.

Cold water immersion reduces recovery time in athletes, enhances repeat performance, and reduces exercise induced muscle damage. It also raises thresholds of pain tolerance, reduces muscle spasm, and improves subjective well-being. It has even been shown to improve mood in depressed people.

Next, how do you take a Scottish shower? You begin by making the water as hot as you can handle. Let the water run over every part of your body including the scalp (good for promoting healthy hair and scalp). Then turn the water temperature down to the coldest you can take (you’ll be able to take more as you get used to the practice). Let the water run over your entire body (this is the tough part, but you can let out a yelp; I do) for about half a minute or so, then back to hot again, and repeat in cycles, always finishing with cold.

You can do this for anywhere from one to seven cycles. I do three cycles every shower.

I’m telling you that this will quite possibly be the most invigorating practice you’ll ever take part in. Along with the benefits I’ve listed above, you will feel the sensory stimulatory effects for up to several hours afterward, see improvements to your skin tone and complexion, and men will discover an increase in sexual endurance, all from the regular practice of taking cold showers.

Scottish showers is a simple yet powerful practice, and worth the discipline. From neurological to immune to aesthetics, nearly every system is benefited from alternating hot and cold showers. Practiced along with dry brushing and your body will respond with renewed youth and vigor. Take it from me, these two timeless health and beauty practices work.


Every month I teach a chiropractic re-licensing seminar on sports injuries, and every class I say,

Listen, it’s so important, doctors, that you believe in what you are doing–to the degree that the patient believes you–because if either of you are uncertain, it’ll be much harder for healing to take place.  Both the doctor AND the patient must believe in the treatment, and if only one believes, then it must be the doctor!

Reminds me of an experience my mother-in-law had regarding a wound that was having difficulty healing.  She was seeing a doctor in her home town who recommended a skin graft, but get this, he said, “It is probably not going to work, but it might.”

When I had heard what he said, I asked my wife why her mother was following through with it.  She said her mother wanted to give it a try; she wanted to believe.  Did it work?  No.  Three grafts, three failures.  At the time, I was peeved that the doctor would approach things in that way.  Why would he even go through the procedure if he thought it wouldn’t work?

After the third try failed, to his credit, he did recommend that she check out the NYU Wound Healing Center.  I decided to do some research on the Center, and what did I find right on their website homepage:

Under our innovative, comprehensive, and compassionate care system, healing is not just an outcome, it’s the expectation. This philosophy that every wound can heal is the focus of care at every level – from our wound clinic to the operating room to our research laboratories.

Duh!  I mean what the heck?  If the doctor doesn’t believe the treatment will work, why would the patient?  Here, we’re going to staple your eyelids shut and we’ll check your hemorrhoids in a week…but it’s probably not going to work.  Cha-ching!

The beliefs of both parties in the health care team are an important part of the healing process.  That is exactly why all healing-arts help some people some of the time, yet none helps all people, no matter how effective it is.  There is no such thing as 100% success rate in health care.

But the caveat is that doctors don’t know which people they are going to help and which they are not.  So….it is imperative that doctors approach ALL patients as the ones they are going to help.  If you truly think you are not going to help any one person–and doctors, we have all had patients enter our practices that we knew we couldn’t help–tell them so and refer them out!  How a doctor handles that patient, the one they know they can’t help, is what really counts in the end.  Good doctoring is certainty.

My mother-in-law went to NYU and guess what?  Her wound healed.  Go figure.

When it comes to preventing cancer, are nutritional supplements effective?  Some say yes, some say no.  There is, however, a superior way to prevent cancer nutritionally–by eating healthy foodsYou don’t say?  Yes, nothing beats whole natural foods when it comes to dietary health.

Recent studies have shown that neither vitamins C nor E did the trick in preventing cancer or heart disease when taken as supplements.  However, we know how important these vitamins are for proper function.  So what’s the deal?  Well, as I point out in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, there is no substitute for real food.  C’mon folks, we haven’t found the magic pill yet that can replace food in providing either energy or nutrients (necessary as co-factors in metabolic processes).

Saying that, though, I am not yet convinced that nutritional supplements are useless.  In the big Women’s Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study II, which provided the most damning case against supplements, one must admit the doses for vitamin C, at least, were very low (500 mg).  I personally take 2000 mg per day.  I will contend that 500 mg, while not useless, is probably too low to show such dramatic effects as preventing cancer or heart disease.

Remove vitamin C from the diet, though, and watch your health deteriorate.  Hmm, so what then?  Vitamin C is necessary but only valuable when coming from real food?  I don’t think so.  We must remember that supplements are just that–supplementing the diet.  Like exercise alone not guaranteeing good health, when combined with diet, rest, chiropractic care, sufficient water intake, and so on, you better believe it will increase your chances of experiencing optimal health.

So preventing cancer, I am certain, requires more than just supplementing.  True, studying each individual vitamin and minerals’ individual effects on the body is valuable.  But I think before we throw the baby out with the bath water, we might need to design more rigorous studies to learn the whole truth.

I am a firm believer in the healing and preventative power whole natural foods.  But I know that we need vital nutrients.  It can’t be possible that supplementing with compounds containing the same molecules as natural foods is folly.  Unless there are synergistic reactions that occur with other, as of yet, undiscovered agents…well, it just doesn’t make sense.  We know certain things about antioxidants in general, and the vitamins that fill that role specifically, so I’m thinking better studies are needed.

But forget not the principle–without healthy, whole natural foods as a staple in your diet, you won’t be preventing cancer or general malnutrition by simply swallowing a pill.


Here is an affirmation I have given to a new client who is being treated with chemotherapy for cancer:  The pain IS the healing.

I was thinking very deeply about this client, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma late last year, when I came up with the affirmation.  He is being successfully treated with the chemo, but the it has put him in excruciating pain.  He says it feels as if his bone marrow is boiling.

What we don’t always realize is that life is often painful; but the pain we endure is often our greatest blessing; it’s what usually brings our greatest growth.  That is the gist of this post.  And the gist of the affirmation.

Affirmations are statements that we say over and over to ourselves, to help establish in our minds the truth behind the statement.  What we say to ourselves repeatedly we believe.  What we believe we create.  In other words, we create our reality, whether you want to believe it or not (hidden wisdom, hidden wisdom, reread, ponder).

However, affirmations are powerless if we don’t really believe what we are saying in the first place.  For my client, it is not too hard to get him to believe.  First off, he’s super-sharp: He already sees the blessing in his illness, and he sees how his life (and mind-set) has led to where he is now, for all of which he is grateful.  Second, he’s a fighter; he feels like ess ayech aye tee (i.e. not well), yet he comes for his visits anyway.  He is doing everything he can to get well, including chiropractic, acupuncture, nutritional therapy, and very soon…rehab.  Third, he knows he is getting better; this man knows the principles of the universe, and he gets that he’s getting a second chance; he understands the process.

So “the pain IS the healing” rings true for him.  But I have given him the affirmation to get him through the rough times.  When his bone marrow starts feeling like it’s boiling from the chemo, the affirmation makes it firm in his mind that it is an integral part of the healing process; and he’ll help his body along through his certainty.

And you can use this affirmation too.  Whether you are going through a tough breakup, financial or legal troubles, or any other painful experience, just remember…the pain IS the healing.

Listen up melody makers–you are healers! Yes, healers. New research shows that music not only calms the savage beast, it helps people heal. It can also diminish symptoms in dying people, and this new study shows that some are requesting just that–their favorite music as they prepare to pass on. Beautiful…and sensible. I love it.

Music as an art form uses sound as its medium. Although an integral part of every culture, there is no universal concept defining music other than “sound through time.” In our modern culture, though, music is being used in a therapeutic sense. Music therapy, a discipline being taught at major universities and professional schools, is helping sick people palliatively–that is, to reduce the severity of symptoms, so that patients can enjoy some improvements to their quality of life.

Music therapy helps people with Alzheimer’s remember; it helps autistic children calm down; it helps premature babies, children with disabilities, and seniors with dementia. It helps people improve their medical conditions as well as improve their lives. Whether life is just beginning, or whether it’s winding down, music therapy holds something for everyone, as we are all moved by the music we love.

In the study, approximately 200 people aged 24 to 87 with chronic or advanced illnesses, such as cancer, pain disorders, AIDS or sickle cell disease received music therapy, where they were allowed to choose the music they heard (Lady Gaga, anyone?). Physical and psychological tests were performed before and after the therapy sessions. The researchers found that music therapy decreased patient anxiety, pain and shortness of breath. Nice. And more than 80% of the patients said the music improved their mood, as well as that of their family members.

Certified music therapists not only play music (they must be well versed in several genres to accommodate a wide range of musical tastes) they must also study psychology, physiology and other health disciplines. Music therapists do indeed provide sounds, yet they also help with a vast array of physical, emotional, and social issues.

I find this practice of music therapy to be in perfect tempo, as more and more people are passing on without religiosity. My perspective is that for most people (those not going suddenly), moving on must be somewhat frightening. Without spiritual hope to lessen the fear, music might be able to help ease the transition. What better way to leave this plane than by being accompanied by one’s favorite music. Ice Cube, take me away.

Seriously, I believe that music is the divine sound of the universe. It does heal. Anybody who has listened to music to create or amplify a mood knows exactly what I’m talking about. Music accompanies me everywhere, and unless I’m blessed enough to go in a snap…it’ll follow me to the light, too.

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