Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Essay: Play 2 CDs and Call Your Doctor in the Morning

The Power of Music and the Flu

I woke up on a Saturday night (Feb 5) with a dry cough, thinking it was nothing but allergies to dust coming from the heater, I fell back asleep. But the next day I experienced overwhelming exhaustion and a persistent cough that grew in intensity as the day wore on, I ended up back in bed, barely able to lift my head from the pillow. However, I made a decision to pursue music sessions (listening to specific CDs) as adjunct therapy along with herbal teas, and plenty of liquids (mostly warm) and Dr. Sha's Soul Mind Body medicine (but try chanting when you're coughing).

What I found on the first weekend with the flu is that I needed comfort. In Chinese medicine, the lungs are associated with grief, which I felt my share of while recovering from the flu. I also wanted to open my heart and throat chakras which were blocked, though my head chakras were open. So I drew from my small stash of CDs which I had placed near a CD player at my bedside. I found that Arabic oud music, Rahim Alhaj’s “Little Earth” allowed me to grieve. The melancholic music also felt comforting to my lungs. I was able to relax my lungs (spasms) and stop coughing for the brief duration of my listening session. In fact, out of all the CDs I pulled from my stacks, this oud CD (coupled with other instruments) went a long way in relieving symptoms, at least for me.  I needed to feel and release a lot of grief from my distant past.

I also listened to NPR radio shows (tried to stay away from the news) so that I could hear the rhythms of human voices. I found this comforting as well. Other powerful medicine includes Jovino Santos Neto’s “See the Sound” which uplifted my spirits and boosted my energy, and I hope my immune system and two Chopin recordings, because I figured a composer who suffered from a lung ailment for most of his life would know about comforting music for lungs. It turned out he did. I also found Javier Perianes’ “Blasco de Nebra Piano Sonatas” relaxing.

I listened to West African music and found Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal’s “Chamber Music” relaxing and so beautiful that it allowed my mind to escape my illness and I listened to Kenyan music too, “My Roots” by Suzanna Owiyo which I drew strength from, and Irish music, Annalivia’s “Barrier Falls” and jazz, Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble’s “The Tide has Changed” which offered nice escapes for me. I listened to the jazz and Kenyan CD during moments when I had more energy.  I listened to Mike Marshall's retrospective CD too and found the bluegrass music friendly and inviting.

There wasn’t much hope for relieving a migraine that accompanied the cough and the main goal I had for the music was to relax my muscles and especially the muscles in my lungs. I also needed music to lull me to sleep at night so that I didn’t stay up all night coughing (the worse symptom of this flu). I noticed the healing effect of the music during an electrical outage in which I felt like a nervous wreck without any music besides a Sibelius tape I played on an old portable tape player. I wasn’t in the mood for symphonic music, but it was that or radio static. The music on this tape though left me in a melancholic mood with lower energy. It wasn't the right music for flu recovery and staring at the cold darkened room that surrounded me while I waited for the light to return, unnerved me.

I’m glad to be on the other side of this flu, and to be honest, I didn’t think I was going to pull through at times. Music helped me emotionally by providing comfort, escape, and a universal feeling. Physically the music relaxed me, worked as a sleep aid, boosted my immune system by lifting my vibration, and calmed the spasms in my lungs. I hope I never have to endure the flu again and I’m surprised I caught this one, but I learned that music (the right music, make conscious choices), goes a long way in a quicker recovery time. Granted I combined the music with Dr. Zhi Gang Sha’s Soul Mind Body Medicine, plenty of bed rest and herbal medicine, but the music was the sweetest medicine of all. I highly recommend it. And I found no side effects except that I craved more and more music.

All the CDs I employed were recently reviewed on this blog.  I pulled the CDs from recent releases.