Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy


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The Healing Powers of Music: Part 1

Greetings friends. This is what is bound to be a long series of articles, and a subject I find fascinating.

As of late I have been listening to (and watching on youtube) videos about the mix of quantum physics, personal development, spirituality and healing. At the forefront of this East meets West inquiry is Dr. Deepak Chopra. Many believe that he should marry Oprah Winfrey so that she could finally be Oprah Chopra. But seriously folks….

In an audio book type recording released by Dr. Chopra (not sure how I got it) the theme throughout was the connection of body and mind. It seemed like a promo piece for his book “Perfect Health”, but was not just an ad – it was information-packed.

He goes on to say that many of us are taught to think along the lines of Renee Descartes – one of the fathers of western philosophy. According to the audio, Descartes thought that body and mind were separate entities.

Chopra disagrees and gives scientific example of how the whole body – not just the head – thinks. He gives the example of the thought “I am thirsty” and how that same certain chemical that is released in the brain when the thought is had, is also released in the stomach, the heart and the kidneys as well. The thought “I am thirsty” is had by the whole body as an experience- and can be proven.

Here is a short video in which Chopra describes physiological effects of happiness and peak experiences:

A basic point Chopra keeps coming back to is this: we have the greatest pharmacy in the world, right in our own bodies. Pharmacy and store bought medications are substitutes for what our body has the capability to naturally produce – only the chemicals that our body naturally produces are better for us and have no side effects.

So when ailments arise, it is often that the body is unable to produce it’s own “medicines” and patients turn to the same chemicals in the form of treatment.

Just like the water experiment – where the body / mind connection is demonstrated – he explains case study after case study in which patients learned to meditate, and their “in house” pharmacy suddenly started to be more effective.

Meditators came off or reduced medications / treatments for asthma, cancer, hypertension, chronic fatigue syndrome and more.

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OKAY ALREADY, SO WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH MUSIC?
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There is a very brief mention of the healing qualities in music, but when I heard it I perked up.

If a thought such as “I am thirsty” makes the whole body react (glands secreting fluids, etc) wouldn’t hearing a piece of music surely make the entire body – not just the head – react?

I know I have heard “scary music” in movies and reacted internally. I have heard music and cried at it’s utter beauty. I have danced to music and felt energized, overjoyed in a maximum health kind of way. I have been a rebellious teen and seethed with anger – and hard rock helped me feel like I was not alone in telling the world to go stick it :-). I have heard classical music and been lifted to the heights of (some of) the vision had my the great composers.

All of these experiences – we know now – are more than just “in the head”. They are full body, physiological experiences.

This must be one of the reasons that some music lasts over years while some dissapears the minute promotion dollars run out. When music lasts over the years it is because people really love it and get a special experience listening to it. It could be James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, J.S. Bach, James Brown or Howlin’ Wolf. There is a thread in great music that heals- and it is not limited to style. Music that stands the test of time has a very special ingredient.

This also explains why a mere “imitation” of something great is not necesarily great. The ingredient we are talking about is a “vibration” or wavelength that listeners pick up on – much like a ghost. Yet, we all know when we hear it – because we feel it. Something is happening in our bodies. Have you ever heard Aretha Franklin sing the blues and felt your skin tingle? I have – and I’d be willing to bet that it’s good for you!

This is the beginning of an explanation (to myself) as to why after years of playing jazz (I still do) and other types of music – I am finding something very special in my acoustic guitar and arrangements of simple songs. On the surface – yes, it’s simpler – but only in terms of vocabulary.

The sound, the vibration of the wood, the timbre of the bronze strings, and the simplicity of the melodies – is healing me. I can feel it!

More to come on this juicy topic…..

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Freedom From The Approval of Others: PERSONAL VICTORY!

A very very interesting life experience went down just the other day and I feel compelled to share it with all of you.

My best friend asked me for some help moving a “room within a room” drum booth for soundproofing and home practice. Our appointment was set, a van was rented, arrangements were made.

Two days preceeding this big job, some family members blew into town and dinner arrangements were made for 6pm the same evening as the equipment move. The invited guests were NY based family (6 people, myself included) and the 2 out of town family members.

We started the move at 10am, figuring we’d be done in time.

Well, guess again…we arrived and were looking at a booth consisting of 15 200lb panels that had to be disassembled, loaded down a flight of stairs, into a van, out of the van, and into another apartment.

I could see at 2pm that I was in trouble. This task exploded into something infinitely bigger than we had anticipated. I called someone who would be there to let them know what was going on, and that I would do my best to be at dinner, but most likely be late.

My choices were, well – leave my best friend stranded with 2000lb of materials and possibly continue the job the next day (impossible because I had a gig that night and this was murder on my hands, and would be another day of $150 van rental) or explain to my family that I was very sorry about the situation and I’d meet them as soon as I could get there.

I figured that my family would say – “Hey, that’s his best friend. We’ll miss him here but he’s doing the right thing.”

Much to my temporary dismay, I became the black sheep. In their eyes, I was the one who dissed the family. I was talked badly about at the table before my arrival. In their eyes they were slighted, and they thought I put a little task and hanging out with a friend before “family”.

I arrived after dessert, to make good on my commitment in a situation that was truly out of my control, and walked into a room with double and triple scoops of dissaproval. I must say, I am dissapointed that “family” would actually delight in my feeling bad or guilty.

Here’s the beauty – the gem – the fruit of meditation and my contemplations. I know my self worth and know I am good. I know I did something out of love for a friend in need. And I know, without the shadow of a doubt that I can live without the approval of my family.

I say this not in a defiant, egotistical, adolescent way; I say it nobly, becasue I sat down at the table feeling good, feeling right – honestly! I looked at the elders and said to myself “it is ok if this person does not approve. I’m ok.”

And then for the 24 hours following, as I reviewed the situation I saw only one viable possibility for dealing with my family. I can sit and breathe in, breathe out and allow them to be who they are. And I can forgive 100% their shortcomings, and see that this event served to push everyone’s emotional buttons, and 8 different points of view regarding the situation churned in these 8 minds.

What they are failing to see is that I would do the same for them – and they might one day be very happy to have a guy with my integrity in their lives. Simply put, their egos got banged up a tad.

It’s as if all of a sudden all these psycho-spiritual things made sense to me. Forgive them. Pray for them. Love them. Even if they are disagreeing with my choices, dissaproving of me, criticizing me. I saw that this was the only intelligent alternative. Allow them to simply be.

I’m free. What used to plague me is losing it’s grip on me. The true SELF that I know watched in awareness of all this, even saw to a future time when all this would be forgotten, and in full intelligence and integrity I knew the right thing had gone down.

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The next day I recieved this text message from my best friend on my phone – “You’re a very good friend, Thank You Again”. He and I are always sarcastic and to receive a message this straight brought me to tears – because I know the person behind the message. This is a friend of 30 years who is family to me as well.

The reward is that I am free from the plague of needing their approval. Doesn’t mean I don’t love them, it just means I have my freedom.

Amen!