The Healing Power of Music, Meditation & Movement
Music, depending on the song, conjures up emotions and feelings that can greatly help with the healing of body, mind, and spirit. Music has always been an integral part of my life. As a young child, I had an aunt that every Sunday used to play the Italian song “The Tarantella”. She was my dad’s sister, Aunt Louise, and while we were waiting for my Grandmother’s fresh pasta to be ready, this wonderful female spirit would dance all around the house. That is what the power of music can do. Music can bring you back to a wonderful childhood memory. Thinking about this song and those Sundays with Aunt Louise makes this childhood memory something to smile about. For those of you who don't know, "The Tarantella" is an Italian folk song that is surrounded by a legend. If a tarantula bites you, the only way to expel the poison in your body is to dance like mad. Aunt Louise who later in life developed bone cancer much like my present bone metastasis has given me through music a reason to dance like mad. Music can truly lift your spirits. I have continued Aunt Louise’s tradition by dancing and singing in my own home as well as signing up for dance classes (Zumba and Latin) while I fight the metastatic breast cancer in my body.
Meditation and metastatic breast cancer
Meditation is another modality to help heal the body, mind and spirit. The silence can be a good thing in a world that is full of noise, certainly overloaded with social media and nightly news. I had known about meditation for a long time but never engaged in the practice regularly. Since my diagnosis last year, I recently meditate every morning. I know some people reading this have very busy mornings, but I encourage you to take five or ten minutes throughout your day to sit quietly and center yourself. It has really helped me. There are so many resources available online. Take a look to get an idea of what meditations are available. Some videos focus on gratitude, self-emptying, positive thinking, healing, and the list goes on. To promote a peaceful night’s sleep, I try to meditate before bedtime to help quiet my mind. I use headphones not to disturb my husband.
Finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of movement. Keep moving. There are various ways to move in a healthy way. For me, I practice yoga, do personal training and my favorite is…dancing!
Types of yoga practices
First, let’s talk about yoga. Here are some types of yoga classes I enjoy:
- Restorative yoga - Movements you hold for a longer time. My instructors refer to the class as adult nap time and can be extremely restful. My class is usually an hour and a half, and it feels like I took a very long vacation when the class is over.
- Hatha yoga intro - The movements in this class strengthen my entire body and are isometric in nature and promote good posture. These classes have made me most aware of the gift of breath. For many of my scans, the breathing technique learned in yoga have helped me stay calm during this time.
Nothing left to do but keep dancingFor me, dancing is when I feel most alive and child-like. There is a beautiful book entitled “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. This author also had cancer and is now cancer-free. In this most enlightening book, I have found the following quote about dancing that I would like to share. It is one of my favorites."Death pushed me to the edge. Nowhere to back off. And to the shame of my fears, I danced with abandon in his face. I never danced as free. And death backed off, the way dark backs off a sudden burst of flame. Now there is nothing left but to keep dancing. It is the way I would have chosen if I had been born three times as brave."Coping with metastatic breast cancerEach day, it is important for me to keep my body, mind, and spirit alive and engaged. For me, music is my medicine. Meditation and yoga are my quiet places and dancing keeps my spirit alive. For me, I try and find something amazing to do each day, including enjoying the simple things and finding ways to stay positive as I live with the reality of a disease that has no cure. Stay amazed.Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on November 5, 2019, Linda passed away. Linda’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?