Throughout my life, I've often reflected that music has literally saved my life. I can't imagine my life without it. It's how I communicate, how I bring myself peace, how I express myself, how I open to the Mystery, and so much more. How is music healing in your life?
I'm reading the book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk. (Great book!) The author gives lots of recommendations for finding healing for one's trauma. One of the best ways is to create music, dance, or act IN COMMUNITY with other people.
Our bodies and minds work with other peoples' bodies and minds to co-regulate and heal. I find that to be very true in the taiko drumming class I attend every week in Pasadena. (See me playing in my taiko concert from last June here: https://youtu.be/79vE85KJBlE)
The vibrations of the drums, combined with the uncanny ability for 20 people to strike the drum at EXACTLY the same time (usually, anyway), is transformative to me. The vibrations feel like a jackhammer that breaks up all my stuck energy and moves it out of me. I highly recommend drumming as a spiritual practice - plus it's really fun.
Of course singing together is another excellent way to co-regulate with other individuals and create an almost-magical healing space for each other. Orange Coast Choir prepares music for Sunday morning worship, yes, but in the process we are helping heal each other's hidden wounds.
Every Thursday night we gather to create this intangible, ethereal substance we call music. If you're looking for an excellent way to heal trauma, grief, or loneliness, I invite you to join the choir. Or if that's impossible for you right now, I invite you to join in singing jubilantly when we have congregational songs on Sunday morning. The songs on Sunday morning are not just filler in between the speaking elements. The songs are part of the worship, part of the healing, part of the magic of collective transformation.
May you find your healing elixir in music and in community.
Director of Music Ministries
Beth Syverson is Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church's Director of Music Ministries. She plans and arranges the music for worship on Sunday mornings, provides piano music during services, and directs the Orange Coast Choir. She is also the artistic director of OCUUC’s concert series—Orange Coast Concerts—which features several eclectic concerts throughout the year.