Heart Sounds
Therapeutic Music for the Journey of the Heart

   
 

 

  Music and sound have played an integral role through the centuries, to calm the spirit, to enliven,
to bring joy and dance. Pythagoras, who lived from about 80 to 500 B.C., is credited with the first attempt
to devise a system of musical healing. Throughout the centuries, music has inspired souls, soothed hearts and
woven a thread of unity for ancient cultures and communities worldwide. For decades in our modern world,
music programs have grown in their outreach to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, mental health centers and
hospices. We are recognizing now, the therapeutic benefits of sound healing with pain control, stress
management and the enhancement of post-operative recovery.



In the transforming wave of recognition of the mind-body connection and the plethora of new research available
on the healing properties of sound and music, how we view treatment is radically changing. Mitchell Gaynor, M.D.,
Director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at Strang Cancer Prevention Center, N.Y; and, author of
Sounds of Healing writes: "Last week a woman in one of my meditation music groups said that a realization had
just crystallized for her. Everything that she had thought was inside of her --anguish, trauma, fear, all seemed
outside of her now. And everything that seemed outside, like the harmony of the Universe and the harmony of
nature, all seemed inside of her". Through music she realized, shared Dr. Gaynor, "that there is only one harmony
and it's the essence of who we are".

Throughout time, music has been a vital instrument of nourishment, restoration and healing for the heart, mind, body and soul. Sarajane Williams, a pioneer in harp therapy , discovered through her work with patients suffering from chronic pain, stress, anxiety and depression, that "reducing tension allow greater flow of energy through the body so that healing can take place. " When the person is deeply relaxed, beta-endorphins are released, alleviating pain and elevating mood" (excerpt from The Mozart Effect, p. 238 ).

Benjamin Lobst, a body worker therapist writes in his book, Seven Metals, "I've been researching the sound-wave
phenomena of Tibetan singing bowls. I play bowls for a few minutes at the start of my sessions and virtually every
client finds it difficult or impossible to be distracted by intruding thoughts or worries. They say things like, "it reaches something in me that words or touch can't get to".


My Personal Journey


As an Intuitive Music Practitioner, I have offered one-on-one and group harp sessions for people in treatment for
recovery of heroin addiction, individuals suffering from chronic illnesses like Parkinson's, AIDS, Strokes, Lou Gehrig's
and Alzheimer's. I have offered outreach to the home-bound elderly; additionally, those elders living in nursing homes, assisted living, group homes and specialized Alzheimer units, where individual encounter challenges with social resignation, loneliness, disconnection and profound multi-dimensional loss. Probably my most delicate and cherished ministry with the harp has been assisting individuals with their journey of dying. Through the utilization of the soft and resonate vibration of the harp, I have witnessed numerous miracles of transformation, healing and transition.

The day I brought my harp into the nursing home to play for a woman who was in rehabilitative recovery with a
stroke, it opened me in a powerful way. I remember the frustration with her inability to create the words she wanted
to communicate to her family and staff. Being thousands of miles away from home when the accident occurred, she
not only felt displaced; but resignation began to challenge her rehabilitative progress as the days turned into weeks, and weeks into months with little change in her condition. I offered a harp session to her and her family, being aware of the gentle relaxation it could bring. At her bedside, I sat closely and played for over an hour. During the session, I noticed her body relaxing and her face breaking into a small smile, a rare moment to remember in the
months of her struggle. A week later her family shared with me that she was able to communicate a dream she had.
During this dream, she saw that "it wasn't her time to die" and actually saw herself well enough to travel back home. Her daughter was tearful and joyful when she shared the story with me. For her, a miracle breakthrough was to see a small seed of hope planted in her mother's heart.


I worked with an 86-year old woman in rehabilitative services at a nursing home related to a recent post-operative
heart surgery. During her time in rehab, she suffered one difficulty after another from pneumonia to post-operative
complications. From her report, I could see she had a history of depression that seemed to be exacerbated by her
recent pattern of plummeting health. I would visit her and her husband of 63 years, both tearful when talking about
their years together and fearful that she would never come home again. I offered one-on-one harp session for both,
recognizing the magic and transforming vibration this instrument can bring. Prior to the session, the physical and
occupational therapist shared that the client's depression was complicating her progress for rehabilitation. Days after the session, this woman transformed her outlook 180 degrees and was inquiring with the social worker on staff about discharge planning. She demonstrated a renewed hope to return home. In following up with this client, while months went by to intervene with her health challenges, she did successfully return home.


A woman of 72 with advanced Parkinson's suffered with intermittent out-of-control tremors. We had worked together
on several occasions with the harp, which brought a greater sense of calm and relaxation. As her disease progressed, I began working with the crystal bowl at her bedside accompanied by toning and prayer. During our first session, her tremors reduced so significantly that her arms and hands were almost completing still. Not only had her tremors shifted, I was aware of a greater sense of peace and calm in her heart and body.


A woman in her early 60's came into the nursing home in a coma and in the end stages of life. The husband was at her bedside hour after hour, watching her face wrinkle in pain and discomfort and feeling such helplessness to comfort her. After offering the gentle vibrations of the harp at bedside for nearly an hour, the husband thanked me with tears in his eyes. He shared that during the session, he observed her "starting to relax...and her face got softer". She died only hours later.

 

 

As a Hospice Volunteer, I have sat at bedside for numerous dying vigils with individuals that are approaching
the end of their lives. What I have witnessed, is a kind of "unraveling of threads" from the heavens, almost as if, with the plucking of harp strings, their precious spirit begins to let go as they allow their hearts and bodies to
surrender into a peaceful and loving dance of release. The vibration of the harp transforms an environment, where
the flow of divine Love and sacred allowing is evoked. You can feel the lightness when you walk into the room. In a
sense, playing the harp is akin to bringing in the soft, light harmony of a rippling stream, a gentle sound that washes over the edges of discomfort, fear and anguish. The miracles are incredible for practitioner and family during this sacred transition, as the soft whispers of the harp help to guide and nurture each journeyer along a path of deep and abiding grace.


One of my greatest surprises was while playing for a group on the Alzheimer Unit at a nursing facility. I expected
a short-lived attention span and people nervously wandering about if I went too long. During this session, I
integrated stories along with short harp pieces and played for nearly one hour. This Alzheimer's group all sat
contently on chairs and couches peacefully mesmerized by the sound, the stories and the energy of love and
honoring. That day my heart was so full with the gifts of magic and miracles that this sacred instrument can invoke.



During a busy post-evening meal in a skilled nursing facility, I offered healing harp at bedside for a resident in long
term care. I had the gift and blessings of offering private harp sessions for this beautiful soul in many transitional care settings. I would witness his whole countenance 'light up', while the songs lulled him into a place of pure joy and gentle peace. Following a harp session, the Team Nurse Leader visited me outside the room. She shared "during the whole time you were playing, Eloiwa, it was so quiet on the floor. Not one call light went off while the harp was
singing".

 

 

 Heart Sounds


Is a ministry of gentle offerings of therapeutic Music and Sound
that nurture and activate an environment of peace, relaxation and peace. The voice of the harp can soothe,
comfort, renew, uplift and inspire. The gentle vibrations reach into the heart and soul, awakening hope, healing
and transformation. Eloiwa provides a supportive and compassionate presence for individuals, groups and
families in one-on-one and group sessions, while bringing forth the loving voice of the Celtic harp in diverse
settings and environments. Eloiwa specializes in outreach to the elderly, and at bedside for the ill and dying.



Music and sound is a Universal language that moves beyond words. It is an expression that involves our whole, unique Being. With sound, we are often carried to a place beyond our pain, fear, discomfort or illness. In this place, as some have so eloquently described, "through music we realize that there is only One harmony, and it is the essence of who we are".

-Eloiwa
 

 

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