Music Therapy with Tibetan Singing Bowls

jane-with-bowlA few weeks ago I was at my favorite grocery store and ran into a friend and colleague. Jane Shallberg, M.Ed, MT-BC is the director of Arizona Sound and Music Therapy Institute. If you have read my previous posts, then you have probably figured out that, while I do work with adults, my primary experience and expertise has been in special education. Jane’s music therapy practice is so different from mine. She does vibration therapy with Tibetan singing bowls and she invited me to a session. During my graduate work I took a course on Javanese Gamalon and I loved playing the big gongs so I thought I knew more about vibrational healing than I really did.

The clinic space was set much like a massage studio with a table in the middle, but around the table were beautiful big metal bowls of varying sizes. Jane explained that this healing practice has been used for more than 2500 years and helps to reduce anxiety and manage stress, reduce depression, lessening agitation, pain reduction, increasing energy, heightening awareness and promoting an overall sense of well-being. She told me that she has been working with mental health, cancer, and hospice patients.

Before she started we discussed some of my wellness goals and set an intention to release the tension in my neck and shoulders and relax my voice. I first lay on my stomach on the massage table and Jane began striking the bowls around me. To say that I was filled with sound would be an understatement. I could feel the vibrations within and throughout my body. My muscles relaxed and it seemed like every part of me was vibrating along with the amazingly beautiful sound. She then took a large bowl she called the “G” bowl because it is for the chakra related to the voice; she placed the bowl between my shoulder blades and struck it. As she moved the bowl around, I told her when I had a spot that was tense, there was such a large transfer of energy that the bowl became warm.

I turned over so that I was lying on my back, and Jane continued to strike the bowls around me. As I closed my eyes and focused on breathing, she then put the same “G” Jane S tibetan bowlsbowl on my abdomen. I felt vibrations all the way through to my back and down my arms and legs and became so relaxed that my mind was free and I was able to imagine a Kaleidoscope of pattern and color.

Before I knew it the session was over and for the first time in a very long time, I was completely relaxed and even pain free for a while. I did experience an opening of my chest and my voice is sounding much more relaxed. I will be scheduling more sessions and I highly recommend this type of music therapy for everyone, whether you are dealing with an illness, pain, or just anxiety of everyday life.

Have you ever tried alternative healing therapies? Please leave your comments below.

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Vocational and Wellness Group for Teens

Egg shaker gameA few weeks ago, I wrote about the ways that music therapy can address vocational skills, you can read that post here, the clients that I was referring to in that article had diagnoses such as developmental delays, autism and Cerebral Palsy and they attend day programs. But this week I had the opportunity to provide a music therapy program for a completely different type of vocational training program.

DK Advocates  has programs in Phoenix and Tucson and they offer training for call centers, computer skills, food service, retail and more. Their clients are people who may need to change careers due to an injury or illness. There was also a group of teens that had been doing a summer work program and I did a drum group in honor of their completion of the program.

Music therapy is still an effective modality for these clients, but the goals are different, the session structure is different and the focus is different as well. These clients didn’t need any help to share and trade instruments and most could keep a steady beat. So when doing this group, I gave each client the opportunity to lead a rhythm pattern and have a solo to provide opportunities to practice leadership of the crescendo

We also discussed the many ways that being involved in the music making is good for your brain and your body and the importance of personal self-care. Then the discussion turned to the great value of always learning new things and to find things to be passionate about. The participants asked very interesting questions such as ways to use music  while studying and while exercising.

All in all it was so much fun for me to work in a different program and meet new people. And I hope that the teens learned a little bit about wellness and about different types of careers, and I hope that my new friend, Mario, who plays bass and drums and is planning to major in psychology in college, will investigate a career in music therapy.

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