Late Night Groove

Have not yet un-jetlagged from 12 days in Hawaii. Staying up late at night and shaking myself loose in the morning. Tonight spent a couple of hours integrating ukulele chords and tunes into my nervous system, then fell into the deep soundscape of Himalayan singing bowls as I was organizing and packing them for my upcoming road trip. Next up, decided to write a short post on my blog. Opened up computer, caught a glimpse of Facebook and a few words about the devil-in-chief which set my heart a-pounding! This song suddenly came into my mind which I haven't thought about in years. At one time- more than 40 years ago?- yikes!- one of my very favorite songs by Fairport Convention.

"Just a roll, just a roll
Just a roll on your drum
Just a roll, just a roll
And the war has begun."

It's not really my thing to be a negative Nellie, but I pray DT doesn't get us in too deep before we can get him out.

Meanwhile, turn your speakers up loud. It's a great song. It's serious sound therapy!

Sound Therapy at Women & Infants Hospital

A while back I was contacted by the Marketing Director of Women & Infants Hospital saying she would like to do an article on the sound therapy being offered at the hospital. I suggested that the best way for her to understand it would be for her to experience it for herself, so we set up a Sound Journey for a group of patients and staff at the hospital. This is the article that was inspired by that event.

Not long after that, the Providence Journal contacted me through the Integrative Care Program at the hospital. They were also interested in doing an article so I performed another Sound Journey there about two weeks ago, which was not only photographed but videotaped as well! I am told it will run on Sunday, January 17, 2016 in the "Thrive" section of the paper- there should also be some footage online. 

So this is all very exciting! 

Sound Therapy at Women & Infants Hospital 
by Susan McDonald

Women & Infants offers sound therapy for cancer patients and survivors
In a dimly lit room, lying on yoga mats with pillows and blankets for comfort, a handful of women were listening. So were their bodies.

Eyes closed, the sounds flowed over them – the deep tone of the Aboriginal didgeridoo wind instrument; the sonic reverberations of the Tibetan singing bowls; the whistling of air passing over the two reeds in the drone flute; the aquatic sounds of fingers rubbed along the top of the dolphin bowl.

This day in the Integrative Care Center at the Program in Women’s Oncology, the sounds were the therapy, offering a unique feeling of wellness to the women, all of whom have battled, or continue to battle, cancer.

“I thought I was relaxed at one point, then another part of my body would go down,” says Dori Gerhardt of North Kingstown after the session.

That was music to Rosie Warburton’s ears.

soundtherapy1 (2)“When you feel the sound resonate in your body, it’s definitely having an effect. When the frequency of the bowl is the same as the body part, it vibrates and vibrates and vibrates until the body lets it go,” explains Warburton (pictured here), a licensed massage therapist and sound therapist who has started conducting sessions at the Integrative Care Center.

Holistic sound, she continues, is a non-invasive blend of healing modalities using sound, music and frequency to restore balance and harmony to the physical, mental and emotional bodies.

For the sound therapy group session, Warburton sat for a bit surrounded by the tools of her trade – bowls of metal and crystal, flutes, and a Freenote xylophone that operates on the pentatonic scale so there’s no wrong note. During the session, she walks quietly and slowly among the women, often standing before each to create various sounds ranging from high-pitched to lower and more primal. Periodically, she offers soft words encouraging the journey.

The goal is to release tension and even pain, balance the body’s energy and calm the spirit.

“Sound just does it. You can go so deep in a short amount of time,” she says simply. “Take the didgeridoo. It stills the thoughts and when your thoughts come back, it’s connecting you to your feelings. You feel more grounded. And, as it’s grounding you, it’s taking you out of your body at the same time.”

Different sounds speak to different parts of the body because of their frequency. If she knocks a tuning fork against the palm of her hand, for example, she can place it on joints, muscles and various acupuncture points to render relief from aches. It worked for Roxanne Lucas of Providence, who has neuropathy in both of her feet. Placing the vibrating tuning fork on the joints in each foot brought her instant relief. Minutes later, Gerhardt was experiencing the same relief when the tuning fork was placed on her wrist, which requires a brace for the effects of her Lyme Disease.

“I can feel it tingling down in all of my fingers. That’s great!” she exclaims.

Warburton smiles as she works on helping people understand the healing powers of sound.

“All matter has a resonant frequency it will vibrate at, including the bones, organs and other parts of the body. When you can find that frequency, you can release trauma from the body,” Warburton explains. “One tuning fork has the same resonant frequency as nitric oxide, and therefore stimulates the relaxation response, increasing oxygen flow, activating the parasympathetic system, and decreasing pain, stress and anxiety.”

In addition to the group sessions, Warburton also offers private sessions at the Integrative Care Center, using a combination of tuning forks, massage and craniosacral therapy. The results are “incredibly relaxing” and can help to increase range of motion while decreasing inflammation in the client. She also visits with women hospitalized with cancer at Women & Infants to help ease their discomfort.

Anyone interested in group or individual sound therapy sessions through the Integrative Care Program at Women & Infants, integrative therapies are offered in Providence, Middletown, and South County, RI, and Fall River, MA. For appointments in Providence, call (401) 274-1122, ext. 7143; in South County or Middletown, call (401) 846-0042; or in Fall River, call (508) 235-3500.

Beyond the Solstice

How the time flies! Great sound healing event at Women & Infants Hospital last Monday on the heels of a Solstice Celebration in Cumberland at the Bija Institute. Beautiful space, good turnout, great people. The acoustics were amazing in the very center of the yurt!

The Sound Journey at Women & Infants was photographed and filmed by the Providence Journal as part of a piece they are doing on Sound Therapy at Women & Infants Hospital. We expect it to be in the paper and on their website on January 17. Very exciting!

Meanwhile Christmas has come and gone, a new year is upon us and the days are growing longer... Blessed be.

Sacred space awaiting...

Erica Nunnally leading a yoga flow in the yurt

Grabbing The Muse By the Balls

I just read this statement by Seth Godin.


Abbey Ryan has painted a new painting every day for 8 years.
Isaac Asimov published 400 books, by typing every day.
This is post #6000 on this blog.
Writer's block is a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady.
More important than the output, though, is the act itself. The act of doing it every day. When you commit to a practice, you will certainly have days when you don't feel like it, when you believe it's not your best work, when the muse deserts you. But, when you keep your commitment, the muse returns. When you keep your commitment, the work happens.
It doesn't matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up.
Show up, sit down and type. (Or paint). 

I loved it when I did Your Turn Challenge and was blogging every day. The muse hasn't left but it certainly feels like time has been slipping away. So I am grabbing it back in this moment.

I have in fact updated my website in the last few days which you can see if you go to the Upcoming Events and Workshops. Also the "Sound Therapy Program" at Women & Infants Hospital (which, quite simply, is me) is going to be featured next week in the Providence Journal. They are coming to the hospital on Monday to take pictures of me doing a Healing Sound Journey and interview me and one or two of the patients. I am quite excited about this!

I'm also going to be doing a wonderful solstice event on Monday evening with a pretty amazing woman I met recently- Erica Nunnally. I am really looking forward to it. I loved her relaxed groundedness and openness when I met her- someone who seems to be very comfortable in her own skin as well as being a person with intention, integrity and focus- a great combination!
Check it out here: Lumina: A Celebration of Winter Solstice

I have been staying up too late every night for the past few weeks but somehow not getting done many of the things I would like. In this moment I am taking the time to show up and do something that is important to me- getting back on top of my blog.
My mother at her writing desk, probably in the early fifties. I wonder what she was writing.

Nothing Real Can Be Threatened

Finally I have my computer up and running again!

The follow-up to the "Mum Dream" has been powerful- tears of joy as I have felt the palpable sense of the presence of her personality fade and an overwhelming love take its place. I keep thinking of the last few lines of the introduction to A Course in Miracles. "The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite. This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way: 'Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.'"
Ever since I took the money workshop in Holland a lot has been happening. Last week I wrote about being at the Rhode Island Cancer Summit. It felt like there was a big opening there. As a follow-up to that, today I got an email saying that the writer for Women & Infants Hospital wants to talk to me because they want to do an article on sound therapy. Meanwhile tomorrow I am teaching a class on sound healing to a group of high school students who are taking an intensive on Sustainable Healing Modalities. I am really looking forward to that. I have loaded the car up with all kinds of fun and interesting instruments from around the world. I suddenly have many more people calling for sessions and someone who wants to apprentice with me coming in a couple of weeks.

 A few weeks ago I was looking at some old material from the sound healing center I had in Florida- notepads, appointment books, calendars, etc. I was so busy every day, meeting with people, giving sessions, doing concerts, sound journeys, hosting events, teaching workshops, etc. and I thought "This is how it's supposed to be." I have been wondering how to make that happen here, knowing it would have to take a different form and curious about what it might look like. Suddenly it all seems to be taking shape and evolving in a very organic way. It feels good.

God Is Not Throwing Dice

It was a toss-up between this and "My Body is a Cage." I have had a full day of music and a certain amount of catharsis due to the songs my friend Paul was choosing for me this morning. Three in a row by Peter Gabriel- this one, then "I Grieve" and finally "My Body is a Cage". I finally told him I needed a break and couldn't spend the whole day catharting!

So, after that we did some ordinary mundane stuff, I cooked dinner and tonight I set up instruments for tomorrow's workshop on Expressive Arts Therapy and Sound Healing. I took a picture but sadly can't seem to upload it onto here. I have a friend I met the last time I was here who is also a sound healer and has a nice collection of instruments- some beautiful Himalayan singing bowls, rattles and flutes plus I brought a few bowls and a bunch of tuning forks and a couple of other small things. Paul and Jane have a Freenote they brought from me years ago and some other exotic instruemnts as well.
At the end of the day I had a very nice assortment of instruments that all sound really well together.

(My apologies that I can only post old pictures from this blog right now.)
 After getting all that organized Paul put me on their Somatron sound table, which he and Jane bought from me 15 years ago when they hosted me in Canada, and played "My Body is a Cage". Totally amazing and so nice to have someone give me a mini-treatment on the table. It has been a long time.

Oh, and one more crazy piece of synchronicity- someone called Paul today to make reservation for tomorrow to stay here via Airbnb. It turned out upon talking to him that he is a sound therapist and has a sound healing center in Rumania! He is coming here with his wife and child tomorrow and bringing a bunch of instruments with him! What are the odds that there would be two of us here at the same time? He was as blown away as we were when Paul told him that I was here and said that when these things happen it is clear, as Albert Einstein said, that God is not throwing dice.

That on top of the question Paul and I have been discussing about why I am really here, since no one was signed up for any of the workshops before I got here. Paul has said several times that obviously I am here for a reason- we just don't know what it is yet. Now people are slowly starting to come out of the woodwork!

Vibroacoustically Yours

I just spent an hour on a sound table listening to the album Pagan Saints by Flesh & Bone, a beautiful collaboration between Peter Kater & David Darling. I say listening- which I was, but you must understand that "listening", on a sound table, means not only hearing the music with your ears but experiencing it as a vibrotactile sensation as the music resonates through the whole body. In this moment I am enjoying the resulting quietness of my being. My mind has slowed down. I feel calm and present to my Self.

The experience of vibroacoustic therapy is, in and of itself, both profound and incredibly enjoyable. The vibrations of the music pulsing through the body drop you into a deep state of relaxation very quickly. Different music obviously has very different effects- some music will take you far away and you lose all bodily awareness and sense of time and place very quickly. Other music will be a more kinesthetic experience and you may be very present to the physical sensation of the musical rhythms and vibrations.

Vibroacoustic sound therapy affects the bioenergetic system on all levels. Intention can be a huge factor as well. The sound is delivered to the body not just through the ears but also (and primarily) through skin and bone conduction (tissue conduction). Given that the body is composed of 60-70% water, which is one of the best conductors of sound, there is a powerful somatic response.  I have facilitated and observed hundreds of vibroacoustic sound healing sessions and the first response typically happens within 45- 90 seconds. The body of the person on the table seems to suddenly sink in as they let go and relax effortlessly. Remember, the music is literally massaging every cell in the body so this goes much deeper than physical touch.

Physical touch is a powerful complement to this therapy however. When the first wave of sound hits it can potentially be disconcerting or disorienting especially for someone who has never experienced it before. When the therapist and client together are joined in an intention, the work is that much more powerful and a light touch may be all that is needed to reassure the person on the table that they are in a safe space. There is also a synergistic blend of sound and energy that occurs with hands-on work that enhances and deepens the whole experience.

I have been feeling distracted by technology lately- too much time on the computer and the phone. I find it compelling and somewhat addictive but not always pleasant. Meanwhile I have so many tools at my fingertips that I can use to create more peace in my life and have been asking myself lately why I do not use them more. Today I decided when I got home, before I did anything else, to just lie down on the sound table for a while. What a shift! My mind feels more clear, more focused and on some level less frantic, although I don't think of myself as frantic.

I feel like now I can sit and just enjoy being, instead of doing, doing, doing and chasing after the instant gratification of the technology I have at my fingertips.

Sound Therapy: The Wave of the Future

This is an article just published on Sound healing once again tops the list for highly effective non-invasive therapy. What an amazing breakthrough- and more evidence that sound therapy is the wave of the future!

Image: 3Dme Creative Studio /
New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function
Of the mice that received the treatment, 75 percent got their memories back.
18 MAR 2015
Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques - structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.
If a person has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s usually the result of a build-up of two types of lesions - amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons and end up as dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules, a sticky type of protein that clumps together and forms plaques.
Neurofibrillary tangles are found inside the neurons of the brain, and they’re caused by defective tau proteins that clump up into a thick, insoluble mass. This causes tiny filaments called microtubules to get all twisted, which disrupts the transportation of essential materials such as nutrients and organelles along them, just like when you twist up the vacuum cleaner tube.
As we don’t have any kind of vaccine or preventative measure for Alzheimer’s - a disease that affects 343,000 people in Australia, and 50 million worldwide - it’s been a race to figure out how best to treat it, starting with how to clear the build-up of defective beta-amyloid and tau proteins from a patient’s brain. Now a team from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland have come up with a pretty promising solution for removing the former.
Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to activate. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
The team reports fully restoring the memories of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks - a maze, a test to get them to recognise new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.
"We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics," one of the team, Jürgen Götz, said in a press release. "The word ‘breakthrough’ is often misused, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach."
The team says they’re planning on starting trials with higher animal models, such as sheep, and hope to get their human trials underway in 2017.

To hear an interview on ABC Radio click here.