politics and practice based on mindfulness

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

spinal chord

I've been journaling about Vedic chant and its perplexing, strong effects on the health and well-being of my students (and on mine, too, of course).  Then, out of the blue comes last week's Sunday NYT article:  Composing Concertos In the Key of Rx:

"I broke vertebrae 11 and 12, missing the spinal cord by a millimeter... The doctor said I can't do much for you for a while, but you can sing if you like" says Vera Brandes, a researcher in the field of music therapy.  She was sharing her room with a Buddhist whose friends came and chanted daily.  After just two weeks at the hospital, an MRI showed her spine was completely healed.

According to the article, doctors at leading research hospitals are designing studies to learn how music therapy works for conditions such as depression.  Based on the assessments from these studies, one said:

Physiologically it's perfectly plausible that music would affect not only psychiatric conditions, but also endocrine, autonomic, and automimmune disorders.  I can't say music is a pill to abolish these diseases ... [but] so many pills have horrible side effects.  Music has no side effects, or no harmful ones.