Music is Medicine

Image of Rachel, a white woman with gray hair playing a shruti box. A Celtic harp sits on the floor beside her.

Music is Medicine

It is both so simple and yet so profound to use music as a support for the life/death transition. I play the Celtic harp and also use voice to meet people where they are in the moment  during various stages of dying.

This is prescriptive so I never know what I am going to do until I see the person.

Are they awake and oriented to space and time? To me?

Are they sitting up? Laying down?

Is their brow smooth, or furrowed? Their hands open or clenched?

And perhaps most important, is their breath shallow, uneven, rough, or smooth, deep and easy?

All of this determines what I play, whether it be a major or minor key, a specific mode, familiar melody or not, voice or humming or just harp.

It is a privilege and an honor to be with people and often their families in this time of vulnerability. I often think of the harp and the music, especially with people that I spend significant time with, as tools of midwifery to assist birthing people into the next realm.

The harp seems to be a portal and I have witnessed many times, people journeying through realms of consciousness as the physical functions of their body slowed, to see loved ones who have gone before. Many people in this phase of transition see angelic beings. I often experience the brushing of something that comes behind me and holds me in space as I play the harp.  There is a sense of being in liminal sacred space here where love and compassion are boundless. Loving through music is medicine.

Music in Community

There is something compelling about co-creating sound with people.

I am drawn to the Bhakti tradition on Yoga that is a practice of devotion through simple chants and mantra that repeats (more on that below) so the practice of devotion is also a form of meditation.

I also have led and participated in community singing with “walking songs” that are little bundles of medicine. They are simple repeated songs, some in parts, that are easy to learn without written pages. Many are associated with movements for social justice, others are pieces that reflect our common humanity.

There is power in this music that was seeded from liberation movements.

Think of music that ranges from spirituals that arose in the fight for emancipation against slavery, music of the civil rights movement, labor movement, to medicine songs that emerged from Standing Rock as well as a whole body of community singing that is part of The Work That Reconnects/The Great Turning. (which is my community)



Listen and Learn from Sweet Honey in the Rock, a group of African American women that have sung liberation songs for 50 years and have their roots in the freedom songs of the Civil Rights Movement.

Many of you have likely done Bhakti/Devotional practice as well as community singing and guess, what.

I am going to be doing more and more of this as it is my medicine that feeds/nourishes/connects and builds solidarity.

Times are so challenging and this type of practice is so necessary. I hope to see you and co-create with you.

Music Heals

Music heals.

Music and mantra specifically were my entry points into Yoga prior to Asana.

The Life Force (Prana) moves through our bodies and often due to chronic stress and trauma can be diminished and even suppressed.

Think of carrying constriction, tension and dullness and where you experience that in your body, maybe in your brow, your jaw.
Or maybe in your neck, shoulders, chest, throat, belly hips.
Some or all of these!

In the Yogic tradition, Prana flows through channels called Nadis and what supports the flow of Prana is Nada (Sound).

The most powerful and effective way to move Prana is with the vibration of your own voice.
It doesn’t matter what you sound like, it is the experience of creating sound in the resonating chamber of your body that produces feel good chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins which improve immune function and increase positive feelings.
Chanting and singing together produce oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that shows up when we feel connected and in a state of cohesion with one another.
Also, the physical act of singing engages the cardio respiratory system, engaging respiratory muscles and optimizes breathing.

In other words, Nada opens up the nadis.

THEN, we can be in an optimal state to receive the vibrational experience of the quartz crystal bowls and move from music as medicine to music as meditation.

Join me for a Chant/Mantra/Sound Healing Journey, Sunday, May 19th at 7:00 PM

Sound Healing Journey @ Elevate Essentials



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