Being mindful of the impact of our “sound environment” is important to our health. In caregiving settings, we also control the sound environment for those for whom we are providing care.
Sound affects us on a cellular level at all times. Silent vibrations also affect us, but this blog will deal primarily with sound and music, with references to the other sources of vibration. Sound waves are constantly interacting with our bodies and minds. Often, it is as though sounds are competing for our attention, and without even knowing, this is producing a stressful effect emotionally, mentally and physiologically.
As we know, people have varying degrees of sensitivity to sound frequencies. There is an engagement with these frequencies. Our brains and psyches are constantly filtering the information, eg the furnace comes on and creates its sounds, and we peacefully sleep through it. The alarm on the clock awakens us. We enter the kitchen, and the refrigerator hums its greeting. If we begin the day with deep breathing to oxygenate our cells, and exhale with a simple, calming vocalized humming or “Ahhh”, we can welcome the day feeling relaxed and calm.
The meanings of words have their own frequencies, and these words vibrating throughout body produce a nurturing response, such as a mother humming or singing to her baby. So, we exhale “Peace”, “Love”, “Joy” to create our own internal, cleansing shower. Our brain, in turn, like switching on the lights, begins the bio/electrical/chemical response to the sounds and frequencies of those words. Try “I am peace—I am love—I am joy.”
The brain is like a computer, which will give the reports based on the information we put in. Thus, our day is begun with peace, love and joy. In the education we provide to the Bessie’s Hope youth and adult volunteers, we explain that the brain can be tricked. It doesn’t know the difference between a happening right now and the memory of the happening. It gets busy dispersing the chemicals, as per above. When our volunteers help create a happy memory for the elders we serve in nursing homes and assisted living communities, the bodies and minds are showered with the same “feel good” chemicals as when the “real” event happened, eg dancing 60 years ago with their first love.
Likewise, the brain can be programmed to begin our day with the good vibrations we sing or speak. Our volunteers sing “The Wonderful Song” with the elders, and we suggest to the elders that they begin their day by singing, “I am wonderful, and this is a wonderful day.”
This has been a brief introduction of using our own voices for “sounding”, or “toning”, which was coined by Laurel Elizabeth Keyes in the 1960s. These are sounds we are creating ourselves with our own intentions to nurture ourselves. What if we use this in our care providing for elders in our homes, or their homes, or in elder care communities in which we work? We enter the bedroom or the workplace with a smile. Remember, the brain is putting out what we put in. So, our smile comes out of our body in a vibration that the elder will feel as “I am happy to be here with you.”
Also, we are quietly, gently humming or singing a positive, slow to moderate tempo song. Then, it will be from this smiling, “good vibrations” place that we say “Good morning, ___. I hope you slept well last night. Today is going to be a good day.” We have been given the sacred honor of caring for elders, those wonderful beings who have reached the time of ultimate respect. They have so much to teach all younger generations.
What are some of their favorite songs you could sing with them? Remember what this will do for them—the nurturing vibrations within their bodies. By the way, it doesn’t matter how you think you sing. If it’s done on purpose from the heart with the intention to be of service—your voice will be received as though it came from an angel.
For those of you entering the elder care community but not providing the hands-on care, you are still contributing to the vibrational environment. Before you enter, sing or speak, “I am peace, I am love, I am joy. I am vibrating at these frequencies.” Then, as you enter know that you have the honor to share the sacred space with elders.
While focusing on elder care, this also applies to anyone of any age for whom we have been called to serve. We smile and make a positive difference in the lives of all with our good vibrations.
Next blog will address the use of recorded music.
Linda Holloway, Board Certified Music Therapist