Tag Archives: relaxation

Breathe In and Meditate with the Sounds of Nature

The Music of this World. Guest blog by Madisyn Taylor, DailyOM co-founder.
The tool most commonly used to focus our minds in meditation is the breath. When we sit down to meditate, drawing our attention inward counteracts our habitual tendency to be scattered. Meditation on the breath helps us gather our energy into our bodies, centering and grounding us in the present moment.

Almost as readily available as our breath are the sounds of the natural world. From rain to wind to the ocean and birds, meditating on these aural manifestations brings us not only a sense of peace, but also an experience of connection to the physical world.

Dudley Evenson meditating oceanIt is easy to get stuck inside our own heads and our individual lives. We get caught up in our goals and plans and almost forget that we live in a world that is always there, humming away in the background. There is an internal shift that occurs when we tune into that background and really give it our attention. It’s as if we are discovering a more expansive world, because we are. We are also experiencing ourselves in relation to something larger. This discovery makes us feel rejuvenated and more expansive.

The vast and ceaselessly churning ocean is an ideal place for meditating on the sounds of nature. Sit quietly and surrender to the sounds of the thundering, crashing waves. Let go of your ambitions and listen. Rivers and lakes also sing their own songs. Even if you live in the middle of a city, the wind howls and whistles and the rain taps out a variety of sounds depending on where it falls ~ on the sidewalk, a tin roof, a car window, or a muddy slope. Tune into these sounds next time you hear them instead of letting them fade into the background. Stop and listen as if you are hearing a sublime piece of music. Let the music of this world take you on a journey of natural sounds.

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Note from Dudley: I hope you enjoyed this guest blog. It was the article I was going to write but then it appeared in my mailbox from DailyOM, one of our favorite sites where we offer several online courses. For years, my husband, Dean Evenson, has recorded the sounds of nature. In fact, Desert Dawn Song, the very first album we made in 1979 included the sounds of dawn in the desert along with our peaceful music and helped to launch a whole new genre of meditation music.

Recently we put together an album and video that are just the sounds of water from four different eco systems.  You can find out about them on our website soundings.com.  Here are links to those projects and special discounts apply.

4 Earth: Natural Sounds of Ocean, Stream, River, Pond (CD)

4 Earth: Scenic Vistas of Ocean, Stream, River, Pond (DVD)

And if you comment on this blog, I’ll send you a free mp3 track of our music. Enjoy!

 

Peace Through Music Helps Local Vets

Dudley Evenson dogtags

Recently I was invited to do a presentation for veterans at the Bellingham Vet Center. Several years ago, Dean and I had visited there and dropped off some of our music and videos and it turns out they had been showing our Eagle River DVD at their gatherings and potlucks where people really enjoyed the relaxation effect of the images of nature and the peaceful music. Eagle River was actually created after our first visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC where we did a presentation on music and healing to the patients, many of whom were wounded in combat or suffering from PTSD . We received feedback from the commanding officers that they really needed that video of eagles and nature along the Nooksack River as it would help people dealing with their flashbacks and nightmares from the trauma related to their combat experiences. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which is what many people suffer after extreme combat situations.
Walter Reed dog tags 2These are the dog tags the chaplain at Walter Reed gave us when we visited there a few years ago.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call a few weeks ago requesting a presentation about music for one of the local PTSD men’s groups.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but found a group of older Viet Nam era vets as well as some younger ones from more recent wars who were ready to work on dealing with their issues. As the leader said later, the men appreciated being able to step out of their comfort zone. I actually had them breathing, toning, singing a mantra and doing ‘I am’ affirmations. I also shared the RELAXATION TRAINING GUIDE we created for Walter Reed so they would have an overview of how to use music in their process.

Then a few weeks later I was invited back to work with a group of women dealing with PTSD, either as veterans themselves, or because of being married to a veteran who was suffering form PTSD. I found this group of women very open to what I was teaching them and much more able to express themselves through the singing, toning and affirmations I had them doing. It is interesting to me that what I am actually teaching these military folks is based on the yoga of sound and it really seems to work. The women want me to come back and go deeper into the process so I am excited to be able to share what Dean Evenson and I have been learning and teaching all these years about the healing power of sound and music, meditation and self-expression.

Here’s a link to the Eagle River DVD and also to Healing Sanctuary, an album we created after 911 to help people deal with trauma. Both of these were among several of our albums used at Walter Reed and given out by the chaplain there to the wounded.

Please add your thoughts about this important issue and especially if you have or know of anyone dealing with PTSD and I will send a free mp3 healing music track to those who comment.

Soundings Music Helps Troops and Vets Relax

A few years ago Dean Evenson and I were privileged to be invited to present our music and sound healing workshop at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to help returning combat troops and those suffering from PTSD and wounds of war.
DeanEvenson-WalterReed
To support the visit we created a Relaxation Basic Training Guide that would help soldiers with the daunting task of unlearning their fight or flight syndrome and learn a new skill – relaxation.  Since we know how much music can help the relaxation process, we were glad to provide tools for people to unwind from their intensive military experience and begin to calm down their instincts and prepare to live in a world without the stresses of war.  In essence we were teaching them the yoga of sound and how to use breath, toning and affirmations to change their mental state and allow the body to calm down.  For years we had heard the phrase – Support the Troops – and although our motto is Peace Through Music and we have always been opposed to war in general, we still wanted to help those who are called upon to fight.  The challenge for many is the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that often appears after combat.  This can be an issue for anyone who has experienced a traumatic event (accident, loss, death of a loved one) so the information we compiled is relevant for those who haven’t been in war.

So if you or anyone you know is in need of overcoming PTSD or any stress related situation – you can click here to download the Relaxation Basic Training Manual.  And if you are interested – these are the CDs the chaplain would hand out to the wounded soldiers at Walter Reed – Sound Healing, Healing Waters, Healing Dreams, Eagle River, and Ocean Dreams.  We also created a DVD called Eagle River that was specifically designed to help those suffering from the stresses of war.

And don’t forget, I am giving away a free mp3 download for those who comment on my blog.  Thanks for sharing.

 

Peace Through Music Supports Wounded Warriors

by Dudley Evenson
WalterReedGrpInspite of our life long aversion to war, my husband, Dean Evenson and I have found a way we can “support the troops” while still remaining true to our core values.  Since so many people coming back from battle are suffering from extreme physical and emotional wounds, we were looking for a way to really put our Peace Through Music mission to work.  Since 1979, we have been producing music for healing and yoga and the popularity of our music with healthcare practitioners and everyday people made us realize it could possibly be of benefit to soldiers returning from combat and suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

We decided to reach out to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, often the first stateside landing hospital for wounded soldiers returning from war.  When we contacted the head chaplain there, Major John Kallerson, we found that he had already used some of Dean Evenson’s CDs in his own healing.  Once he realized that he had personally experienced the benefits of Dean’s music, he was enthusiastic about making it available for his patients and began to include it in the Wounded Warrior Kit given out at the hospital.

Chaplain Kallerson told us “The music helps our patients focus on their healing and not the chronic pain they endure constantly. The soothing music of Healing Sanctuary and Healing Dreams provides a needed respite from the dreams and flashbacks of the terrors that our wounded have seen and experienced.  It is helpful for them to relax and not dwell on the bad dreams or images that they can see… Some find them very helpful to get to sleep.”

Inspired by this feedback, we began to research the effects of war and the stress disorders that often plague veterans of violent conflict and learned that music can offer an antidote to some of the emotional traumas experienced.  We put together a Relaxation Basic Training Guide to help returning soldiers in their healing process.  Couched in military terms, the booklet presented concepts of Nada Yoga or the Yoga of Sound and shared many techniques that are actually ancient yogic practices incorporating breath, muscle relaxation, meditation and mantra.

During two separate visits, we performed our peaceful music of flute and harp interspersed with teachings about relaxation and sound healing.  Looking back on the content of our offering to these wounded troops and medical professionals, we realized we were actually sharing the basics of yoga and meditation.  Although we didn’t demonstrate any postures, the foundation of the information we offered was yoga.  From breathing demonstrations to relaxation to affirmations and mantra, we were able to educate these service people about this ancient practice.  Hopefully our story will inspire people to reach out in their own communities to offer yoga, music, massage and other healing modalities to veterans who are in such desperate need of healing.  The benefit is for the veterans, their families, and the community at large.  It’s never too late to plant seeds of peace.

Click here to Download Relaxation Basic Training Manual

These are the CDs they have used at Walter Reed – Sound Healing, Healing Waters, Healing Sanctuary, Healing Dreams, Ocean Dreams, Eagle River, Eagle River DVD. Click here for Memorial Day Sale

 

Music for Health & Relaxation

By Dudley Evenson

“All the tragedy in the world, in the individual and in the multitude, comes from lack of harmony.  And harmony is best given by producing harmony in one’s own life.”

-Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Music of Life

All cultures on every part of the planet, from ancient times to this day, have used music in some way to lift the spirit and to enhance the healing process.  Sound affects us on all levels from the emotional to the physical, and reaches into our very depths, resonating through every cell and molecule of our being.

Music because of its nature is a link between the external and internal worlds, a bridge to the spirit and a doorway to the soul   Sound affects the vibratory rate of every part of the body and has a direct impact on the mental processes, muscles, nervous system, digestive system and circulatory system.  It is no wonder that health care practitioners have discovered the benefits of using music as a support for the healing process.

It is rare to have a healing session these days without the presence of peaceful music in the background.  Why is it that music and bodywork go so well together?  In addition to the pleasant environment that music provides, there are many reasons why music actually supports and extends the benefits of the healing session.  In this article, we will explore a few of them.

It is interesting to note that both healing music and massage began to have a popular acceptance about the same time.  The 1970’s were a time of new innovations and explorations into healing and consciousness so when a few pioneering musicians began to create a more spiritual and meditative form of music, it was natural that the newly blooming massage therapy and bodywork professions would discover its benefits for their practice.  In addition to a good massage table and fragrant massage oils, good music became a must-have part of a massage therapist’s medicine kit.

Surrounded as we are by the monotonous 60 cycle per second hum of machines and consuming urban life, the tendency toward tension and dis-ease has become the byproduct of our modern lifestyle.   Soothing music and the sounds of the nature remind us of the peace we desire.  Clinical research and personal testimonials attest to the effectiveness of music and natural sounds in providing a space for healing to occur.

In his landmark book, The Mozart Effect, Don Campbell states that “by listening to music with longer, slower sounds, one can usually deepen and slow the breath, allowing the mind to calm down….As with breathing rates, a lower heartbeat creates less physical tension and stress, calms the mind, and helps the body heal itself.  Music is a natural pacemaker.”

Stress.  The American Institute for Preventative Medicine cites it as a key role player and contributing factor in both heart disease and cancer, two of the leading causes of death in the United States.  Best-selling author and physician, Dr. Andrew Weil, concurs saying “I am convinced that stress is the primary cause or aggravating cause of the majority of illness.” Tension in the mind translates itself into tension in the body and can cause a state of dis-ease in the body’s organs and systems.

No wonder the many forms of bodywork now prevalent in our society such as massage, Reiki, healing touch, acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, tai chi and Pilates are resulting in a direct benefit to our health.  Used in combination with peaceful music, the positive effects can even extend the healing experience beyond the hour or two of a session.  Some healthcare practitioners are “prescribing” music for their clients in order to extend the beneficial effects of their work.  If someone has had a positive experience listening to a certain piece of music during a session, being able to play the music at home will allow the effects to continue and cause the “Relaxation Response”  to kick in when the music is played and the memory stimulated.

What is it that makes music healing? Healing music as we have discovered is much more than just slow music with nature sounds.  We have identified multiple reasons why the music has a positive effect.  Some of them are listed below:

• Slow rhythms entrain bodily systems (heartbeat, pulse, digestive system, respiratory, muscles)

• Natural sounds (if present) give sense of peace

• Tones are nurturing, clear, warm and gentle

• Pace is slow but with a sense of joy and beauty

• Music doesn’t have hooks and repeated refrains that engage the mind (not demanding)

• Feeling is more like nature, flowing

• Sub-audio frequencies (if present) entrain brainwaves to alpha or theta state

A relaxed body and sense of inner calm are beneficial to restoring health and maintaining balance in the face of disease.  Often, the mind needs an extra tool to assist it in letting go of disturbing or repetitive thoughts.  Music has the ability to give the mind another focus and helps to lower stress levels, which in turn, helps strengthen the immune system.

Healing is about re-aligning the body with its own divine blueprint.  It is about returning to a dynamic state of balance from a temporary state of imbalance.  A primary way sound heals is through physical and emotional resonance.  Resonance occurs when two energy systems vibrate at the same frequency.  Certain music will cause the body and its systems to resonate with it and return to a state of balance.

Another aspect of healing with sound involves slowing down the brainwaves. Our brains emit a continuous and often varying vibration reflecting the state of our consciousness and attention.  When we are busy, physically and mentally active, or stressed, our brains emit Beta waves (15-21 hertz or cycles per second).  When we are in a peaceful, calm and meditative state, our brains emit Alpha waves (7-14 hertz) and we are more receptive to healing.  Theta brainwaves (4-7 hertz) are emitted in an even deeper and more dreamlike state.  Delta brainwaves (.5-5 hertz) indicate deep sleep, coma, or trance states.  Music with very slow sub-audio frequencies can help entrain the brain to go into the desired states.  Entrainment simply means causing one system to vibrate with another. A sub-audio frequency can be felt but not heard.  (Audible sound is in the range of 20-20,000 cycles per second.)  Music that contains very low frequencies under the mix can extend the healing effect of the practitioner’s work.

The intention of the musician is another aspect to consider when choosing healing music.

Sound is a carrier wave for intention and spiritual energy so the integrity and original intention of the musician are very important.  If music is made by formula and simply for commercial purposes, that is the intention of the artist and the music will have minimal healing effect.  On the other hand, if the musician is coming from a truly spiritual place, the benefits of the music will be all the more effective.

The level of healing gained by any musical piece is a function of the balance between the elements of intention, harmony, resonance, frequency, rhythm, and entrainment.  Because music is a form of art, there are also creative and artistic levels to consider and here we get into areas that are more intuitive and based on individual perception.  Slow music that is morose and moody will not have as positive an effect on the healing process as music that is joyful and uplifting and carries a sense of beauty and spirituality.  The good news is, there is much healing music available today that can assist the body worker to support the healing process and help the individual return to a state of wholeness and harmony with oneself.

Dudley Evenson and her husband, Dean Evenson, are award-winning musicians and co-founders of independent record label Soundings of the Planet, celebrating 30 years of creating Peace Through Music. They are sound healing pioneers and have produced over 60 albums since 1979. Contact Soundings of the Planet, www.soundings.com.