I spent the early part of my young adult life obtaining an education that would enable me to work in some very fine hospitals, clinics and medical rehabilitation facilities. The patients in those places were people who had injuries or illness that necessitated treatment by a variety of highly skilled physicians, nurses and therapists. I also worked in a couple of excellent Universities, training young people in those areas. That was followed by a period of writing and editing textbooks and scientific papers all for the same purpose. After 32 years I retired. Now as I look back I can honestly say little of what I did or what any of my esteemed colleagues did was of any benefit to the human beings seeking relief. For the majority of people the medicines and treatment regimes we employed were of little help.
Looking back over my career I can honestly say I think the majority of it was wasted. I think we had it all wrong. Why? Because we failed to engage our patients in their own healing process. We failed to help them to unleash the incredible healing that the elegant machine they inhabited, their very own human body, is capable of. I now realize that it is possible to stimulate even the most incapacitated person to turn on their own internal mechanisms and put themself on the road to recovery.
We will all age. All of us will wear out our parts. Some of us will do it quickly and intentionally. The majority of us will just experience the gradual and inevitable completion of the life cycle. But as for myself I’m going to do all I can to engage my body in developing it’s own defenses and maintaining the health I now enjoy for as long as is possible. Recently I discovered a vehicle that I felt helped me to do just that. Orla Foley, a local physical therapist, at Kincora Therapy invited me to try out her new sound bed. I suppose I expected it to be pleasant and relaxing. I did not expect to have such a profound experience.
Now at this juncture I should say that I think each person’s experience on the sound bed will be unique to that individual. I am a person who wants to be well. Sickness, and the anxiety that accompanies poor health holds no fascination for me. Illness has no purpose in my life and I don’t invite it in. Also, I would say I’m open to the notion that my body knows what to do. My mind knows how to utilize the right stimulus to regulate itself. And, one last thing – I provide the fuel. I eat a healthy well balanced organic diet. I don’t drink alcohol or take any drugs. I get a lot of sleep and I avoid the company of negative or unpleasant people whenever possible. But perhaps most importantly I don’t smoke tobacco or anything else. So I’m a good candidate for engaging my own bodies capacity for health.
The sound bed is a short low wooden lounge with a soft pad atop. It looks like a piece of wooden sculpture in that it has a serpentine shape that conforms to the curves in your body. It seemed to me that the core of the sound bed was hollow like a drum. If you can, imagine a large musical instrument you could lie comfortably upon. Then imagine that on one side of this bed or lounge was a harp (for strumming) and on the other side a set of wooden blocks (for drumming). Now lie down, first on your back and then later, you will turn over onto your tummy. The therapist, Orla, sits on a mat or a pillow on the floor beside you. This is the weird part. When Orla begins to strum the harp attached to the side of the sound bed, your body absorbs the vibrations and begins to release its own vibration. Orla says that the resonance of each person’s body is different and hence the “music” released is different for each person. Thinking back on my experience on the sound bed, it was indeed as if my body became an instrument. Within my body I felt a sort of harmonic wave of sound, a music if you will. My tones were low and earthy. It sounded like recordings made by whale and dolphin noises I have heard on programmes about the ocean. The effect on me was truly extraordinary. The majority of my body was vibrating or resonating is a better word, “in tune”. It felt marvelously in synchrony with the rest. But there were a couple spots, one in the joint of my left shoulder and another sort of on the edge of my pelvis near the hip. Those spots sort of buzzed and vibrated a bit out of tune.
But as Orla continued strumming away beside me on the harp attached to the side of the sound bed my body seemed to warm up and a sort of wave of harmony came over it. Physically I felt very comfortable, especially temperature wise. I remember thinking I’m neither hot nor cold I feel perfect. This was followed by a wave that released even the most minor of muscle tensions. That sensation was followed by total harmony. The bones, muscles and tissues of my entire body seemed to tune up like a capella singers that achieve harmony with one another. The slightly “off key” buzzing in the shoulder joint and hip area that I described earlier, vanished and I was overcome by the total relaxation of muscles I had previously not even realised were tense.
Now, as if that were not enough there was a coup de grace instore. I was instructed to turn over onto my stomach. At this point I was nearly levitating! Seriously I had the sensation that I was floating. Orla moved to the other side of the sound bed and took a drum stick with a soft fluffy woolen ball on each end in each of her hands. Now she started to strike at the wooden blocks, actually I guess you could call them paddles on the side of the sound bed. It made a klop klop klop noise like a horse trotting up the road. Words escape me now, I just cannot describe how good that particular sound felt, this time in my bones.
I am always a good sleeper. I go out quickly and I sleep soundly hour upon hour. I usually get at least a good 8-9 hours at a stretch. But that night, after the sound bed, I practically lapsed into a coma! I awoke so rested and refreshed it was just uncanny. The sense of relaxation and peacefulness seemed to last on into the following evening. Strange as this may sound I think the sound bed actually affected my mood and my temperament.
In the hospital professionals were never allowed to recommend anything alternative. That was forbidden. We were told alternative methods lacked empirical evidence of their efficacy. That’s technical language for there is no proof it works. However, now I’m just a civilian, I’m retired and no longer work as a healthcare professional. So I’m free to endorse whatever I want! I’m free to say I love the sound bed and I would recommend it to anyone. What will the outcome be? I don’t know. Your experience will probably be as unique to you, as mine was to me. I would just say you have to try the sound wave bed.
M.K – Speech Therapist