Healing Practices Anyone Can Do

I was asked to present some Self-healing practices at our most recent Utah Therapeutic Harp Network (UTHN)  gathering (a sacred circle). I have taken so many workshops and classes on the following list but can not claim any expertise. I’ve tried them all  and to some extent they are all useful and easy to do. We did some of the exercises at our meeting and I think everybody felt more open and less stressed at the end. I know I did. Then, of course, we ate a fabulous lunch prepared by our awesome hostess, Peggy. Felt like a day at the spa.

What makes all of these practices most beneficial is habit. They should be practiced  on a daily basis, not just when you’re depressed or stressed, in order to build resilience. Yeah, right. Do what I say, not what I do. Youtube video references are included for more in-depth explanations and demonstrations. I tried to find the best for you.

Self-Healing Practices to Stay Healthy and Creative

1. MUSIC: Listen, play, sing and tone your chakras
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, try taking a break and listening to relaxing music. Playing calm music has a positive effect on the brain and body, can lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. (Did I really need to remind a roomful of Therapeutic Musicians this?) Ocean or nature sounds have similar relaxing effects as music. So does singing and it improves your oxygenation levels if you do it right.
Exercise: Tone your Chakras. As you sing the vowel sounds, hold the place where that chakra resides in the body and see if you can feel the vibration there.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8kwc1lkiAQ      every video has different vowel sounds.  If the following don’t work for you, try another one.

Root chakra:  uh sound (C)
Sacral chakra: uuuu (like Moo) (D)
Solar chakra: long o  (like low)  (E)
Heart chakra: Ahhhhhhhhh (F)
Throat Chakra: long I (like lie) (G)
3rd Eye chakra: long A  (like hay)  (A)
Crown chakra: long E (like she)   (B)

2. Call a friend (another UTHN member)
When you’re feeling stressed, take a break to call a supportive friend and talk about your problems. Good relationships with friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle, and they’re especially important when you’re under a lot of stress.

3. Talk yourself through it  (EFT)
Sometimes calling a friend is not an option. If this is the case, talking calmly to yourself can be the next best thing. Don’t worry about seeming crazy — just tell yourself why you’re stressed out, what you have to do to complete the task at hand, and most importantly, that everything will be okay. Remind yourself of all the challenges in life you have already overcome successfully. Or try the
Emotional Freedom Technique technique https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyHxuTG6jRk  with self talk and tapping.

4. Eat Right
Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. When we’re overwhelmed, we often forget to eat well and resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up. Try to avoid sugary snacks and plan ahead. Fruits and vegetables are always good, and fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress. A tuna sandwich really is brain food.
Drink Green tea rather than caffeinated drinks A large dose of caffeine causes a short-term spike in blood pressure. It may also cause your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to go into overdrive. Instead of coffee or energy drinks, try green tea. It has less than half the caffeine of coffee and contains healthy antioxidants, as well as theanine, an amino acid that has a calming effect on the nervous system.

5. Laugh it off—yoga laughing
Laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of the stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Laughing tricks your nervous system into making you happy.
Can’t think of anything funny? Go to Youtube and look for Monty Python, Robin Williams, Carol Burnett or whoever has made you laugh in the past.
Fake it. Just start belly laughing. This will be enough for your body to respond biochemically. And you will soon be laughing for real at how silly you sound.  Did you know there are Laughing Yoga clubs all over the planet?

6. Exercise (even for a minute) Qi Gong and Qi Self Care
Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean power lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. A short walk around the clinic or neighborhood, or simply standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation. Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood almost instantaneously.
Open the Meridians with tapping and movement

7. Sleep better (banana tea)
Everyone knows stress can cause you to lose sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and only gets worse with time. If sleep is a problem, try turning the TV off earlier, dim the lights, and give yourself time to relax before going to bed. It may be the most effective stress buster on our list. Kristen shared a recipe for insomnia, make banana tea: cut off the ends of a ripe banana and boil it for 10 minutes. Drink the water as tea with some cinnamon. : https://www.davidwolfe.com/banana-cinnamon-tea-deep-sleep/


8. Breathe deep and think of things you are grateful for
For centuries, Buddhist monks have been conscious of deliberate breathing during meditation. This is also the foundation of HeartMath’s formula for improving Heart Rate Variability and increasing resilience. Sit up in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on top of your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest. While shallow breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates your blood, helps center your body, and clears your mind. While you’re breathing, focus your mind on the things in your life you are grateful for. 3-5 minutes every day, longer if you don’t think you have time to do this.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4QtkV3UgDY    and  a guided meditation:

9. Morning Pages,  The Artist’s Date, Sacred Circles: Purpose: to declutter your brain and banish blocks to creativity and living a full and abundant life. All of this is from the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. If you read this 20 years ago, like me, read it again. I got so  much  more out of it the second time.
Morning pages: Every morning before anything else, sit and fill 3 pages of handwritten stream of consciousness. Do not review it, do not edit it. Just brain dump onto the paper. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxtEo4yCOh4
Artists Date: Make a date with yourself to do something that you really enjoy, honoring yourself and what it is you do that makes you unique on a regular basis. What is fun? Can you do it alone? Do it. Is there someone who would enjoy doing it with you not just out of obligation? Invite them.
Forming a Sacred Circle—”Success occurs in clusters and is born in generosity. Let us form constellations of believing mirrors and move into our powers.” J. Cameron. This is what  UTHN is, our sacred circle.


My 2017 Harp Focused Summer Vacation

I returned recently from the International Harp Therapy Program workshop in Cedar Falls, Iowa and the follow up  experiential workshop on Resonant Tone in Albert Lea, Minnesota. While I wasn’t looking forward to traveling to the mid-west in August from all I had been warned about: sweltering heat, oppressive humidity and bugs; none of that proved to be the case, at least while I was there. The weather was agreeable, even cool and rainy and the bugs stayed home.  It is always inspirational and validating to come together with the IHTP tribe of Therapeutic Harpists, including new students, former teachers, experienced practitioners, and old friends.  We speak the same language and have shared experiences. While all presentations at this weekend conference were valuable and informative, my favorite takeaway from this session was the Aromatherapy Workshop. I use aromatherapy with patients by dabbing it on my wrists.  The movement of my arms while playing harp sitting close to the bedside then sends it subtly into the room. My favorite blend is from Young Living Farms called Forgiveness. It includes sesame seed, melissa, geranium, frankincense, sandalwood, coriander, angelica root, lavender, bergamot, lemon, ylang ylang, jasmine, Helichrysum italicum oil, Roman chamomile, and rose.

“Forgiveness™ contains an aroma that supports the ability to forgive yourself and others while letting go of negative emotions.”(https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/forgiveness-essential-oil)

It is useful when people are at the end of life and can’t seem to let go because of anger, bitterness, resentment, guilt and fear.  And I love the smell.

Pamela, my new IHTP sister, friend, and roommate for both workshops, acquired a room spray of Frankincense to help us sleep and ground us while we were there from Rodney Schwan, which she liberally spritzed every night before bedtime. It seemed to do the trick. Rodney is a Massage Therapist and Aromatherapist who works in the field of palliative care.  The knowledge and personal experience he shared about using various scents in palliative care use was extremely valuable and which I intend to include more of in my own practice.  

On Saturday night, Gaylord Stauffer, Cedar Falls host, harpist and gardener extraordinaire, invited us all to his home. The following pictures are from his incredible gardenscape, where we were able to wander and wonder at our leisure while our friends played harp and sang into the evening.  Good food, good company, and incredible creative landscape artistry created a magical environment for us all to refresh and relax.




Albert Lea and ESM Workshop

“ESM – Experiential Specialty Module – The Experiential Specialty Module requires in-person attendance for all students. This is a week long Module. The ESM is scheduled at venues in many countries, and you can take it anywhere it is offered. This allows the program to be quite flexible and moderately paced for all students. The Experiential module (which is an extension of Unit 4) enables the student to be ‘recommended for Hospice work,’ as opposed to those who only take the theoretical Unit 4 about Resonance.”  (http://harptherapycampus.com/campus-2/faqs/).

Diane, Pamela, Sharon, Heidi

There were four of us in this training:

From  left to right: Diane from Idaho, Pamela from New York, Sharon from Edmonton, CA, and me. Included is Sharon’s Stony End harp which we all got to play one evening in the hotel lobby for our own amusement and that of the hotel staff and guests while it poured rain outside.

Being such a small group with 2 fabulous instructors: Christina Tourin and Judith Hitt, allowed us to really go deep into the training which was so appreciated by us all.

Having gone through the theoretical ESM training seven years ago, much was review for me but the experiential resonant tone was practice-changing for me.

The concept of resonant tone is based on the fact that we all vibrate, and that which vibrates, produces sound. As Therapeutic Harp Practitioners, we must be centered, focused and attentive to our patients and their surroundings, integrate that information and meet the patient where they are at within that moment vibrationally, emotionally, and mentally. Any vocalizations produced by the patient provide a clue as to their resonant tone which we try to match with our musical selections.  Items in the room provide clues to their interests and personality and whatever they are willing to share with us in that space also helps. Being open to all of this and completely focused on the patient allows intuition to assist with the choices. Some of my colleagues refer to this as “the voice”, “Creator”, spirit guides”  “universal intelligence” and “pure coincidence”.  Whatever the source  for an idea that comes to us to play a particular tune or improvisational mode for a patient that is absolutely perfect, it will come to us if we are open to it,  paying attention, and grounded in our intention to do the best we can for the person we are with.

Watching the response of the patient to our musical selections, key, rhythm, genre, allows for opportunities to change and select a more appropriate choice to connect with the patient as needed.

At the end of the week we gave a performance for the residents of the facility which had provided  a beautiful space for us all week. Then we traveled to a different facility where we were allowed to shadow Christina and Rachel Christianson, IHTP graduate, amazing harpist, and local host for our training, as they provided Therapeutic Harp music for selected patients.   They used harp, voice, conversation, shared experiences to establish that special connection for the patient and their families within a limited amount of time.  There is no way to glean the benefits of this level of training without being present and experiencing it first hand.

At Rachel and Dave’s house Tina and Rachel jamming on the Heartland harps





Another dinner party, this time hosted by Rachel and Dave Christiansen of Albert Lea, MN at their lovely home on the lake.  From L to R: Tina, Judith, Pamela, Sharon and Diane.

I have been able to develop a new depth to my own practice of bedside playing for hospice patients because of what I learned in both of these workshops. It was well worth the time and money to participate, expand my skills and work outside my comfort zone with such incredibly talented and dedicated professionals.