Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hospital Experience #12: Yvonne - Healing Music Part 2

This is the twelfth in a series of posts on a recent experience at Ochsner Hospital - having a cardiac catheter ablation procedure to correct a heart arrhythmia. These posts describe and reflect on various aspects of the hospital experience. This twelfth post is the second of two posts reflecting on Yvonne's gift of healing music.

For greater understanding of this post, it will help to have read my previous post, "Hospital Experience #11: Yvonne - Healing Music Part 1," which describes healing music as played and sung by Yvonne and reflects on the aspects of comfort, presence, and healing in Yvonne's gift. This post, "Hospital Experience #12: Yvonne - Healing Music Part 2," will reflect on further aspects of this gift.

VIBRATION. Music is a powerful healing medium. I believe that this is because vibration is at the center of the universe. At the core of the universe, there is a pulse. At the core of every human being, there is a pulse - our heartbeat. Our core organ, the heart, embodies a life-giving vibration, pulse, beat, rhythm.

Rhythm is primary in music - enhanced by melody, harmony, timbre, and dynamics. In playing and singing for me, Yvonne was connecting with me at a very deep and primal level. Through music, she was speaking to me at my core. It is also worth noting that my medical issue was a heart arrhythmia, and Yvonne was sending healing music to me, healing rhythm.

BEAUTY. Beauty enhances any healing medium. If a patient needs bed rest, if is well to surround the patient with beautiful sights, sounds, textures, and scents. If a patient needs special baths, it is well to include candles and music. If a patient needs to be kept in traction, it is well to hang colorful mobiles from the bars. If a patient needs a special diet, it is well to add flowers to the meal tray. Beauty will heal because it touches the soul. The healing music played and sung by Yvonne took me into a world of intense beauty. Yvonne was bathing me in beautiful music.

SACREDNESS. Music is Yvonne's soul language. In playing and singing for me, Yvonne was taking me into the depths of her heart and holding me safely there. She was giving to me from her most sacred inner place. She was giving me the gift that is uniquely hers to give, the gift that gives her the most joy to give.

ART. Art heals - and with my previous blog post and this one, I see two art forms combining to effect a healing that my soul needs. These are music and writing. Writing is my art medium. Music is Yvonne's. Yvonne and I also share each other's media in that Yvonne also writes and I have also played, sung, and even composed music. But I would say that writing is more natural to me, as music is more natural to Yvonne. Also, Yvonne has gone far more deeply into her medium than I have into mine. Nonetheless, Yvonne's gift to me of music and my working with this gift through writing has effected and is effecting a profound healing.

INEXHAUSTIBLENESS. I believe that healing music opens channels that continue to effect healing. I can never say that I have received everything there is to be gleaned from this hospital experience and from Yvonne's gift. The healing will continue to unfold.

ENRICHMENT TO THE GIVER. Yvonne's gift included letting me know how giving to me had enriched her. Yvonne does not see herself as solely giving and me as solely receiving. In her view, my willingness to receive her gift was something that I gave to her, and this allowed her to give her gift and to receive what that experience held for her. I understand that the experience of giving her healing music to me held at least four gifts for Yvonne.

First, it allowed her to experience herself as overflowing. Erich Fromm in The Art of Loving describes three types of givers. The first type sees giving as depletion: such people experience giving as having less for themselves, so every act of giving becomes an act of diminishing their own supply. The second type sees giving as marketing: such people like to give only as part of an even exchange, so that every act of giving is matched by receiving something of equal value. The third type sees giving as indicative of abundance: such people experience joy in giving because their ability to give reminds them of how much they have and allows them to experience themselves as wealthy, even though, in an objective sense, they may be poor. Yvonne is the third type of giver. Giving to me afforded her the joy of experiencing herself as rich, abundant, overflowing, and generous.

Second, a crucial part of Yvonne's life purpose is developing and sharing her gift of music. Giving to me allowed her the soul satisfaction of fulfilling her purpose.

Third, Yvonne shared with me that giving to me of her music for four hours straight showed her that she has reserves of strength that she wasn't sure she had. This is because Yvonne had a stroke in the fall of 2009 and still has some limitations of movement on her left side. She also needs to expend more energy in performing tasks that were once automatic, which is tiring. Yvonne is still recovering from her stroke in a very real sense. After playing and singing for me all morning, Yvonne had the joy of realizing, "Wow! I do have the reserves of strength to play and sing healing music for someone for an extended period of time."

Fourth, Yvonne also shared with me that this post-stroke experience of giving has encouraged her to branch out and begin again to offer her healing music more widely in hospitals and clinics where she lives in Colorado. It deepens her knowing: "After the stroke, I still have an important musical gift to give. I have the stamina to do so. I can fulfill my life purpose. I can experience the joy of giving."


  1. This post reminded me of my mother's last days in residential hospice and how someone came to sing for her. It was very calming, soothing, and ethereal.

  2. Deborah, I'm so glad that your mother was given this gift of music.