Guns vs. Drums: Which is better for your mental health?
There’s been another mass shooting in the U.S., and this time at a community college in Oregon. Like so many of the other shooters of these mass shootings, the shooter also suffered from a learning disability and likely related sensory processing disorder (SPD) and mental health issues. But why are these individuals and their families advocating the use of guns and related shooting activities say at gun ranges – as a form of MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY?
But unlike President Obama and so many gun control advocates (and zealots), I see this from a different angle. I see it from the perspective of misguided practices across the U.S. for persons with developmental, learning, and mental health disorders – whose families believe that gun recreation & shooting is the right THERAPY for their brain health challenges.
Now I know a lot about brain health as I have been living with the disorder, hydrocephalus, since a 1992 auto accident, and became a neuroscientist and drum circle facilitator as a result of challenges I and so many others face today. I put on drumming workshops for a wide variety of brain disorders. I see with from a different angle, and I see firsthand how engagement activities can help, or hurt the affected individual.
My heart goes out to the families with children with developmental and mental health disorders as they’ve been looking for activities and outreach for their children for many years. I see the parents’ fear and exhaustion when they bring their adult children to my workshops. But in the case of so many of the mass shootings in the U.S. over the past 20 years, it appears many were carried out by individuals with development or brain health challenges, and it was their parents that got them into gun recreation – thinking it will bring them peace and help them better integrate into society. But, what we’re finding in these shootings, is that they are mis-using the guns to act on “untreated” brain health issues. And in these cases, other activities and therapies need be undertaken.
There is actually a lot of similarities in the sensory and personal qualities of guns vs. drums. In each, it is the vibration and sounds that provides a brain “buzz” of sorts. Both also give the individual an enhanced feeling of importance. But that’s where it ends!
Affected individuals are often drawn to activities like guns, drums, and even auto racing for the sensory “highs” they provide, much like a drug. Parents often feel gun recreation and therapy helps maintain calm, and ward off mental health and SPD meltdowns. But the brains of many of these individuals are often not high functioning enough to know the difference between right vs. wrong – and with a gun, automobile, or other deadly device, it can be a lethal combination. And the vast majority of affected individuals also face challenges in cognition, sensory processing disorder, and cognitive accessibility. In medical terminology, I would call ill-advised recreation with guns “contraindicated.” And as for alternatives, there are many!
I have been involved with drumming, or drum circles, for 11 years now, and I put on a variety of drumming workshops for the brain, and with excellent results.
The sound & vibration of the drums effects one’s brain waves, and its group activity qualities allow for team building, leadership, and creative expression. On a therapeutic level, drumming acts as neurofeedback, sensory, and occupational therapy all in one, and helps to normalize associated cognitive, behavioral, and sensory complaints in these disorders.
My web site and blog links below detail health science information drumming, basketball, and alternative medicine modalities
Again, to me the bigger issue is WHY parents are advocating the use of guns & gun recreation in unstable children with mental health disorders? There are so so many recreational and outreach activities far more ideal for these children, many of whom are now adults.
On a political level, it seems the Obama administration is more concerned with gun control, and the plight of illigal immigrants and refugees from Syria, than the plight of Americans and American families with children with developmental and mental health disorders.
In my view, these shootings are not so much a problem about guns, but a problem about the lack of understanding of mental and developmental health, and how to best care for these individuals as adults. Sixty years ago, many of these shooters might have been institutionalized. We’ve moved away from that, but we’ve failed to modernize our practices. This has been an evolving crisis for many years!
In my addiction blog above, I detail the science of many of these disorders, and share results from many alternative and sensory therapies. In addiction disorders, both mental health and learning disorders often occur together as “dual disorders.” I recently spoke on this new area of brain science at Sovereign Health. I am involved with drumming and drum circles for these disorders, and have seen great results.
Do you suffer from arthritis? Do you have problems with your feet? And do you live in Orange County, California? If so, then you will find the following health information helpful for the treatment, wellness care, and prevention of arthritis flare ups.
There is quite a bit of online information today on arthritis. What I’ve done is aggregate an array of specific information from some popular sites on arthritis, osteoarthritis, and problems with your feet. I’ve copied & pasted some of this content, and identify the web pages and links where the additional information can be found.
Now I am a fan of preventive and wellness health information, including, apps and mHealth applications. As I live in Orange County, some of this health information, particulalrly the drumming, exercise, and massage therapy, is specific to Orange County, California. The rest is general treatment information. I have found DrWeil.com to be a great site for wellness & prevention. So, it appears at the top of my blog.
I am also a neuroscientist and drum circle facilitator, and offer drumming or “drum circles” for wellness, movement disorders, and wellness care for prevention of arthritis. And I’ve included my information on drumming for arthritis. In 2011 and 2012, I also provided drumming at the Orange County Arthritis Walk at the University of California at Irvine (UCI).
Suggested Lifestyle Changes
• Lose weight if you are overweight; it can alleviate excess mechanical stress on the affected joint(s).
• Avoid intense activities that injure or strain the joint cartilage.
• Exercise. This can actually be beneficial as long as it is performed at a level that does not stress the affected joint(s). Strengthening surrounding muscles will support and protect the joint, and physical activity helps improve and maintain joint mobility and aids weight-reduction efforts. The safest activities are swimming, stationary cycling and light weight training – which put little stress on the joints.
Nutrition & Supplements
Dietary changes may help alleviate or reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Research has shown that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and the spices ginger and turmeric may help reduce inflammation. Foods rich in antioxidants – plentifully found in most vegetables and fruit – may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation.
• Eat oily fish such as salmon, or try another source of omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts or freshly ground flax seed daily.
• Regularly use ginger and turmeric. Ginger tea is a good example.
• Eat generous amounts of organically grown vegetables and fruit every day.
The following are nutrients, botanicals and other compounds that Dr. Weil often recommends for joint health:
• Glucosamine sulfate. Glucosamine sulfate provides the joints with the building blocks they need to help repair the natural wear on cartilage caused by everyday activities. Specifically, glucosamine sulfate provides the raw material needed by the body to manufacture a mucopolysaccharide (called glycosaminoglycan) found in cartilage. Supplemental sources are derived from shellfish. Taken in supplement form, glucosamine may help improve the maintenance of healthy cartilage with an enhanced deposition of glycosaminoglycan.
• Chondroitin. Chondroitin protects the cartilage and attracts fluids that give the tissue its shock absorbing quality.
• Evening primrose oil. A source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which may help maintain healthy joints by modifying inflammation.
• Herbs and spices. Ginger, holy basil, turmeric, green tea, rosemary, scutlellaria and huzhang all have naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds known as COX-2 inhibitors.
• Omega-3 fatty acids. Containing primarily EPA and DHA, which have been shown in studies to help maintain bone health and flexibility.
Overview and traditional information on arthritis.
Arthritis is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the body’s joints. Inflammation causes redness, warmth, pain and swelling. There are about 40 million Americans who suffer from arthritis. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, estimates that by the year 2020, about 60 million Americans will have arthritis. The primary targets for arthritis are people over the age of 50. Arthritis is a major cause of foot pain because each foot has 33 joints that can become affected by the disease.
Drumming & Drum Circle Workshops for the Care of Arthritis (my company’s services)
Using the body’s sensory & proprioceptive system, I guide participants in drumming, or drum circles, for physical movement and coordination. This helps in persons with arthritis, movement disorders, brain injury, and to offset the effects of aging. The instruments are used to cue or initiative movement. Your body does the rest. These methods require less brain voluntary thought and cognition, and more your own movement and rhythmic memory.
As we age, or after onset of arthritis or movement disorders, precise voluntary control of actions like walking often becomes compromised. Drumming can be done in one’s home and also in group settings. Participants are taught to initiate action on cue of a rhythm. I usually begin with simple recognizable rhythms participants can easily play, and give movement cues on either the upbeat or downbeat. Cues can also be carried out by tapping of the hands, fingers, feet, and other body parts, which can also be applied to body turns, steps, and bending to pick things up. This is helpful in arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), post stroke, and most movement disorders.
I teach rhythmic patterns to help with stepping and turning you would normally do in the home and in everyday activities, and utilize tapping on the thighs and hips to correspond with turning, stepping, and bending to pick things up. This method engages the less voluntary actions of the cerebellum to cue the legs and feet with less of a physical challenge. Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), post TBI, or stroke who have a lot of difficulty standing and initiating walking, can use this rhythm and cue method to better their mobility. Those with autism require more hands-on instruction and specific rhythms.
Drum and rhythm training helps individuals better use their body as an extension of their brain’s cognitive function. By relieving some of the load on the brain, you effectively become smarter. My drumming methods also teach participants to conceptualize rhythm & movement, and carry out progressions with the body. This is critical in sports play and movement. It awakens the “primal brain.” Along with the body’s sense of time and space, our brains track precise rhythmic patterns and communicate these signals to our limbs to walk, talk, and perform specific actions. You move with significantly less dependence on voluntary thought after undergoing my rhythmic training. You’ve heard stories of people who stuttered, yet could sing beautifully. Or could dance, but could barely walk. The secret is in body’s ability to connect with rhythm.
A myriad of physical therapy and balance training methods are used to help with movement, strengthen the body, and strengthen the brain’s role in movement. Below, I’ve authored an extensive blog on the science and mindfulness of basketball.
In basketball, athletes work tirelessly on hand, eye, and footwork syncopation to pass & shoot with pin-point accuracy. Rhythmic training helps participants of all levels. See what it can do for you!
Top 10 Exercises for women with rheumatoid arthritis
Exercise is important for women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) because the right exercises can help relieve joint pain and build muscle strength. There are three main groups of exercises women with RA should incorporate into their regular fitness routine: stretching, strength training and cardio. Here are 10 exercises that every woman with RA should be doing on a regular basis. Read more on their site below.
Signature Massage: Provides blood and oxygen circulation to the joints improving inflammation, using essential oils to penetrate the dermal layers to relieve stiffness and pain.
Thai Massage: Providing the same benefits as a Signature Massage by using modalities of stretch and acupuncture points.
Thai Herbal Bag Massage: Using heat, oil and medicinal herbs to penetrate deep into the joints to reduce inflammation.
Reflexology Massage: The ancient Chinese practice of reflexology is a therapy focusing on the feet, and is a popular modern holistic therapy to relieve pain and stress. Reflexology massage therapists believe that different areas on your feet and hands correspond to other parts of your body, and massaging them stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system to heal itself.
Hot Stone Massage: Heated stones are the vehicle to allow the penetration of oils and heat into the entire body.
Hand & Foot Paraffin Treatment: We use paraffin oils and heated mitts for the hands and/or feet to reduce inflammation and stiffness.
Exercising in warm water has many benefits. The warm temperature (92°) of our therapy pool increases blood flow to muscles, which helps the muscles relax. As your muscles relax, you will be able to exercise more comfortably. The buoyancy (what causes you to float) helps support the arms as you slowly move them through the water in an almost effortless fashion. Buoyancy also greatly decreases the amount of body weight placed on the back, hips, knees and feet. When you stand in waist-deep water, only 50% of your body weight is put on the lower part of your body; in neck-deep water, only 10%. Walking and leg exercises may be done with little or no weight on the painful joints of your lower body.
Aqua Flex -A warm water class designed to improve joint range-of-motion, flexibility and balance. Stretching with gentle movement, proper joint and muscle group alignment and overall well-being will be the focus.
Aqua Arthritis-Following the guidelines of the Arthritis Foundation of America, Aqua Arthritis instruction emphasizes exercising at your own pace. This warm water class is designed to allow for range-of-motion, endurance and flexibility exercises. All classes take place in the warm water therapy pool.
Tai Chi-Gentle movements of the ancient Chinese exercise tai chi are one of many alternatives to help those with arthritis find pain relief. The movements of tai chi are gentle, graceful, mystical — and a safe way to relieve arthritis pain and gain balance, strength, and flexibility. Tai chi is one of many alternative therapies that can provide relief from arthritis pain.
The NCH Wellness Center offers exercise programs designed for those with arthritis, and include:
Personal Training-Wellness Center Personal Trainers give arthritic clients new hope by developing exercise programs that are designed to improve strength, function, joint symptoms and mood! Research has demonstrated that both exercise and resistance training are highly beneficial for those with arthritis.
Nutritional Education-Researchers continue to look at the role diet plays in arthritis. While evidence is accumulating, anyone with arthritis can benefit from a diet that provides adequate nutrients to prevent deficiencies. Our Registered Dietitian (RD) offers nutritional education to help you manage your arthritis symptoms.
Stem cell injections for osteoarthritis
Bone defects are one of the most serious problems patients and doctors are facing and leading stimulus for new research centering on the need for new tissue regeneration therapies. Studies on mesenchymal stem cells are changing the way we treat bone diseases. Stem cells have been used for the treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta, hypophosphatasia, osteonecrosis of the femoral head, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
I commented on my efforts w/ drumming in health, obesity, and movement disorders to Dr. Peter Attia’s TED talk on obesity:
“I do research and put on special drumming workshops for a variety of disorders. I believe that our weight and body types are very much tied to the mind-body connection and our daily movements, in that our rhythmic movements are a reflection of the relationship between the mind and youth/health. Body movement determines in large part how we burn calories and maintain weight. When you make conscious decisions in support of health and youth, your body moves more youthfully, affirming to your brain of youthfulness, which you’ll reward with more rhythmic movement.
This biofeedback mechanism conditions the mind to sustain good health. Research has also shown that rhythmic activities/exercise balance brain waves between the brain stem and frontal lobe, thereby controlling stress. The cycle of rhythmic movement, brain health, and body reward then becomes self-sustaining. Without it, aging, gain weight, and depression tend to set it. Interestingly it is near impossible to be in a depressed state during rhythmic movement. Most all physiologic mechanisms in the body operate per rhythmic cycles, as do all planetary movements and aspects of the universe. Hence the mathematic model of our universe and it’s connection to human health and movement!
In disorders or injury where movement is compromised, you can undertake specific movements with the hands, fingers, and other body parts to nourish the brain’s need for rhythmic movement. Where this is not readily possible, meditation and visualization of movement can be helpful in this cycle of health needs. Movement activities (therapies) are also extremely helpful in mental health disorders. Movement therapies can become cumulative, self-sustaining, and autonomic within the body, and can alter one’s metabolism. These specialized programs are readily available thru my drumming and neuroscience practice.
Dr. Peter Attia’s TED Talk on his New Insights in Obesity & Diabetes:
As many of you might expect, I almost always have percussion instruments with me, even while on vacation. When I traveled to Northern Michigan in 2012, I brought the above claves, shaker eggs, a cylinder shaker, woodpecker, gongo bell, flute, and thunder tube. I travel with these should I be asked to entertain or do a drumming therapy session. This request came from a friend of the family for an 11-yr old girl with cerebral palsy and autism from a chromosomal defect. The child was quite challenged and could not walk or talk, and suffered from restlessness and difficulty sleeping.
The Patient Workup
In preparing for my sessions, I perform a brief patient workup that consist of speaking to the parent in the presence of the child – to get the relevant patient history and to let each see me speaking in the presence of the other – which establishes permission. I am experienced in doing clinical workups from my prior nuclear medicine work and current hydrocephalus consults and drumming work. All together, I have 17 years of clinical workup experience as a nuclear medicine technologist(10 years with my company Certified Nuclear Imaging), 15-20 years hydrocephalus and medical device consulting, more than 10 years in drumming, and 10+ years earlier experience coaching youth soccer and baseball where some of my kids had speacial needs
Next, I introduced myself and spoke directly to Eliza, the eleven year old child in this session. I wanted to assess her present state of mind and willingness to work with me- which was positive. I assess the eyes, body movements, and listen to any verbal responses to any nervousness or physical complaints that might interfere with the session. It is important to know any issues that might limit the session – so I can ideally adjust ahead of this. I shared with her mother that I would keep the instrument play simple and not too loud, and start simple and increase stimulation and complexity as long as she was agreeable and engaging. As the therapist, I must continually observe her engagement and adjust my interactions accordingly.
Sensory Processing Disorder
Most all children with autism also suffer from sensory processing disorder (SPD), as do many with hydrocephalus, ADHD, PTSD, Parkinson’s, post TBI and the like. IN SPD, the individual will become easily over sensatized to sound, light, motion, or scents. Sound is the most common, but lights and colors are often an issue too. The list of accommodations for individuals with SPD as a medical challenge vary, but now fall under “cognitive accessibility,” which medically and legally defines the neurologic functional needs of the individual. I have become increasingly involved in cognitive accessibility over the last 5 years.
As I sat down next to Eliza, I observed her to be drooling, a bit anxious but also curious about what I was about to do. She was cooperative. My approach is to be calm and assuring. In these sessions where sensory processing disorder is present, sound, color, my voice, and movements become a critical part of the music therapy session. I maintain my attentiveness to her responses.
Color, Movement, and Music
I began by playing a simple 1-2 beat on my wooden claves, and it immediately drew her attention. I followed this up with one shaker egg, and then two, and she responded with giggles and excitement the more I played. With the colored egg shakers, it was hard to differentiate how much of her response was due to the egg color and motion versus sound from the eggs. Then I played the cylinder shaker, which can be loud if not careful, and I got more positive response from her. Next, I played the woodpecker and shaker together, and she went bananas! Yes everyone likes the wood pecker. By this time, she had been awaiting and anticipating my every movement and instrument sound. It was as much fun for me as it was for her. She became a terrific student and fan!
Then I played the Remo thunder tube. And she became so excited, she reached out and grabed it. Her mother said she couldn’t hold things in her hands. But she pinned the thunder tube between her right hand and lap, and resisted a bit as I reached to take it and play again. However, at no time did she play any of the instruments. I tried to get her to hold a shaker egg, but without success. Eventually she held the thunder tube almost entirely in her hand. My session lasted almost 40 minutes, and I was very pleased at her attentiveness, willingness to engage me, and willingness to challenge her own limitations.
Music and the Brain
I believe the favorable response and attentiveness during this treatment was due to the child’s attentiveness to engage me and the sounds and colors of the instruments. By the end of the session, she had remarkable focus and level of excitement, and briefly drank from a bottle. And then stood up by holding onto the porch railing, and stretched in excitement. I explained to her mother that these type of therapies might be helpful in her walking or talking someday. The family has a piano where she and the other kids will gather around and play together. I’m told she likes the bass noteson the piano. So I suspected she’d love the sound of a bass drum (I did not have on this trip). I would be curious as to what an EEG would show of her brain waves since she craved active sounds. She’d also been to a Blue Man showwhere the performers made her part of the show.
Music & Drumming Therapy as Healing Arts
EMDR therapy is one related sound and movement therapy that comes to mind and is used in PTSD and sensory processing disorders to desensative the individual. I reflected on new EMDR methodsin 2002 when I undertook my sound sensory study with the Boss metronome (discussed further below). As EMDR is also a “healing art,” I’ve shared my blog below on CAM and alternative medicine. It is from 2012. But it’s been updated. It is the first third or so of this blog, where I discuss my past mind-body methods, that I think is relevant to music and drumming therapytoday. In these regards, I believe the benefits come from more than sound and interaction, they come from the authencity and “intent” of the therapists. And this is widely true thoughout the various alternative medicinemodalities. There must be a BUY INby the patient! The trust and optimism causes a release of neurochemicals in the brain and change in cell structurethroughtout the body.
Drumming for the Brain & its Effect on Brain Wave States
In EMDR Therapy, the therapists determines what to say and how to integrate sound and visual cues. It has been discovered via Parkinson’s Disease work that happy and relaxing activities please the brain and aid in the release of endorphins, particularly dopamine. Dopamine levels often run low in PD. I am uncertain as to the effect seen in cerebral palsyand autism. But I observed in my session with this child that she had a strong affinity for rapid stimulation thru musical toys, also confirmed by her mother.
I am unsure whether Eliza’s low functioning state kept her brain wavesin a lowered state, i.e. alpha. But she craved rapid stimulation. I felt it critical that I engage her in a step-by-step method of rhythmic movements and sound so as not to overstimulate her, and maintain her focus and level of engagement. Most of what I played were slower rhythms. The most up tempo I played was a moderate samba on the bell and clave. And this was only one session. I didn’t have opportunity to stimulate her on multiple levels. And at the end of this single session, I could see she was tired.
I suspect a djembe drum or bass drum might also captivate her. I’ve observed a young girl with marked autismat the HB pier who will sit right in front of the large fast playing djembes. I’ve been concerned it may not be healthy for a child at her level, though she appears drawn to the stimulation. Children have lower brain wavesuntil their teens. So any artificial attempt to speed them up could have adverse consequences. This is also why caffeine and sugar act differently in children.
The next day Eliza’s mother contacted me to share that she slept thru the night and seemed remarkably calmer after the drumming session. This experience is one of the reasons WHY I became involved in drumming. It has also helped me personally in managing many of my own challenges with hydrocephalus. Further below, I discuss some of the contraindications and research with sensory processing disorder, including, a blog with audio examplesfrom YouTube of problematic machinery noise.
I have been involved in drumming therapysince before I became involved in drumming in 2004. It was my 2002 sound sensory processing studywith the Boss metronome which were my orginal efforts in sound patterning. After becoming involved in drumming in 2004, my interests were split between play and research. I authored this first web page on drumming entitled, What is a Drum Circle, which discusses some of the science plus my own views on drumming, or drum circles.
In 2005, I put on my very first drumming for the brain workshopat the High Hopes Head Injurycenter in Tustin, CA. From there, I began to put on a wide array of drumming for health events, though these were mostly for disorders of the brain and central nervous system. This drumming for wellness page below features some of these efforts.
Drumming therapy is finding success today in 1:1 and group sessions with ADHD, ADD, autism, hydrocephalus, Parkinson’s Disease, post TBI, aging, and more. What is critical in all of this is that the individual and group ENGAGE!
The information on my above drumming web pages discusss how you can obtain a drumming event, workshop, or therapy session with me.
I created the above Cognitive Neuroscienceweb page to encompass my neurosciences efforts from hydrocephalus to mHealth, sensory processing disorder, drumming, drumming therapy, cognitive accessibility, and related outreach. Like so many sites and pages, it is a work in progress to keep it up to date.
Generally speaking, decibel appsonly help you with loudness or decibel levelof surrounding sound before it might become problematic for you, your child, or parent. Unfortunately, the triggering aspect of sound, is more in its pattern and pitch than loudness, and is why I undertook this next study in 2002 on sound and sensory processing – to understand the types and effects of sound exposure on persons with hydrocephalus who also have SPD. I feel the types of SPD challenges I evaluated in hydrocephalus is similar to that of autism and other neurological and learning disorders.
As for balance, coordination, fitness, and sensory processing challenges, it doesn’t get much better than shooting baskets– which I began doing therapeutically in 2008. I eventually met up with another shooter, Al Massip, and our on court discussions turned to philosophy and brain science. One day, I posed the question, Where does the Shot come From? And this became a focal point of our shooting for several years, until 2015 when I published this in-depth blog that now attracts 500+ monthly visitors from all over the world. This suggests a lot of people are trying to answer this question. The answer may be in part mystical too. On a therapeutic level, my basketball and drumming with basketball methods are very helpful for a number of neurological disdordersand brain health.
The final supporting presentation below was from my power point as part of a talk I delivered at Wayne State University on drumming and rhythm methods in STEM3 education. I discuss a range of implications from language and learning, to speaking tempo and entrainment of teacher/student, to health and sound sensory processing and classroom noise considerations.
From my 20+ years in living with hydrocephalus, research and writing about the brain, a lifetime of playing music, 17 years in nuclear medicine, and coach on 20 little league soccer and baseball teams, I truly understand how drumming helps others.
Contact me if you are interested in drumming therapy sessions, consults, or having me speak at an event. The best method of contact is via email.
Stephen Dolle Neuroscientist, mHealth Inventor & Drum Circle Facilitator Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com DolleCommunications.com
Who are we? What are we doing here? Why do I get sick and feel pain? What are the limits of the human mind? Why do we have conflict? What happens after we die? These are perhaps the most common questions asked about human life.
The photo above of me playing at a full moon drum circle was taken in 2009 as I led a group of some 200 drummers. I have changed my header to this blog several times looking for the perfect “image” to best explain what occurs in spontaneous healing (it’s often not spontaneous, rather is over a day or few days) from mind-body practices. When I saw the above photo, I was intrigued by the clarity and number of unusual shapes in the flames of the bonfire. There were quite a few other photos too. Some refer to this as “animal spirits.” I really have limited knowledge of animal spirits, only know about it from books I’ve read. But what I do know, is about mind-body and intuitive healing from over 40 years of experience and study. Many of these occurred in my medical work, and 5-10 occurred as near spontaneous healing in my own personal health.
My experience in health and wellness spans 17 years as as a nuclear medicine technologist (1976-1992) where I interviewed several thousand patients – the majority having cancer, my work as a drum circle facilitator (since 2004), my work as a neuroscientist as a medical device consultant/mHealth developer/patient advocate, and personal health consults I’ve provided to friends and family over the years. I enrolled in pre-med at the University of Cincinnati in 1973. However, my heart wasn’t in it, in large part because I had witnessed several remarkable intuitive events that I could not explain.
I have benefitted from a variety of alternative medicine modalities that date back to the 1970s. While I have undergone twelve (12) brain shunt surgeries with CNS shunts for hydrocephalus, I never abandoned my mind-body medicine roots. My earlier work in nuclear medicine enabled me to develop an mHealth solution for hydrocephalus in 1997. And by 2004, I began to innovate new health solutions using Western Medicine, mHealth, and the healing arts (mind-body medicine). Perhaps one of the more novel health methods I personally use is applied kinesiology (AK) and cranial adjustments (dev by osteopathic medicine), where I perform a self-assessment and adjustment of my cranial misalignment caused by my hydrocephalus and chronic meningitis. I do not currently provide “medical intuitive” consults. But I provide neurological consults for hydrocephalus, advice on mHealth, and am developing several new drumming programs – including a novel program for basketball. Drumming is an extraordinary tool to facilitate “change.“
I initially wrote this blog in 2012 and have updated it multiple times, including, this update of May 11, 2016. I now realize it should be re-written and re-organized – time I could apply to a book on the subject. I enjoy WordPress as I can link related blogs. I have done my best today to tie in the most important points of this discussion.
There are many mind-body or healing arts practices today. They are listed under quite a number of alternative health subjects. The most widely used are: Alternative Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), Integrative Medicine, the Healing Arts, and Mind-Body Medicine. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of books and stories on the subject.
Complimentary & Alternative Medicine or CAM was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bridge the gap between Western Medicine and accepted methods of alternative medicine. Within Western medicine, CAM is usually limited to traditional modalities like acupuncture, meditation, music therapy, and massage.
In September 2015, I spoke on Alternative Medicine and CAM in Addiction Treatment at Sovereign Health of Orange County. I had been wanting to write an up to date paper on alternative medicine, and the addiction presentation provided the opportunity. In that blog, I list most of today’s modalities with supporting information. Feel free to open up this blog on alternative medicine methods in addiction treatment.
Many healing modalities, but just a limited number of mechanisms thru which healing occurs. Further below, I discuss man of these.
I also now face a personal health challenge that Western Medicine has not been able to resolve. So, I am driven in part by this in my quest to discover new and more effective mind-body techniques to benefit my own health.
Highlights of Mind-body Healing Blog
1. Overview of Alternative Medicine and Mind-Body Medicine
2. Interviews with Several Thousand Patients battling Cancer (1981-1992) – The Connection with Illness to your Thoughts and Beliefs
3. Experiences with Spontaneous Healing
4. Experiences with Self-Hypnosis – Discovering the Subconscious Mind
5. Understanding the Placebo Effect widely seen in Pharmacology Studies
6. Can Mindfulness Prevent Injury and Illness?
7. Drumming Methods helpful in Healing
8. Basketball, Mindfulness, and Movement Therapies
Components needed for Mind-Body Healing (all healing arts)
Your Brain and Related Functions
Your Mind and Consciousness
Your Personal/Spiritual/Religious Beliefs
The types of Practices you Undertake that Resonate best with You
A Supportive Physical & Social Environment conducive to Healing
Self-Care via Diet, Exercise, Brain Health, and minimizing Substance Abuse
Time and Commitment to Mind-Body Practices
Our brains are far more capable than we know. It is the occasional extraordinary event that draws our curiosity. Some will stop there. Many will explore further.
Given our connection to the planets and stars, it is likely that gravitational and planetary forces play a role in our health in this earthly dimension.
Earlier Experiences in Mind-Body Medicine and CAM
I was first exposed to alternative and mind-body teachings in 1971 thru books on ESP, psychology, philosophy, sales and motivation, and mindfulness. While in pre-med in college, I delved into psychology, and eventually chose NOT to go on to medical school. Instead, I took a one-year internship in nuclear medicine technology. I continued to read about philosophy, mindfulness, and mind-body medicine in books by Dr. Wayne Dyer,Dale Carnegie, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In 1978, I became involved in new studies on spirituality, music, and nutrition. That same year, I had a compelling tarot card reading that indicated I should move out West. As I was working in nuclear medicine, I was inclined to validate these methods with science as best I could.
Major Breakthrough in 1981 helps me overcome Peripheral Neuropathy
I had a major metaphysical breakthrough in 1979 that led to meeting my wife. Two years later, I had my 1st validated mind-body healing experience that led to unexpected skills, or abilities, as a medical intuitive – corroborated in my work as a nuclear medicine technologist.
This healing experience came courtesy of a 3-week trial of Bufferin undertaken for pain associated with a peripheral neuropathy disorder. The healing trial spanned 6-12 months as I was being passed around from doctor to doctor. I had 8-10 years of reading books & articles on allergies, healing, spirituality, and nutrition. So I knew what was possible! Executing it was another story, however. Arguably, it was “serendipity.”
For as long as I could remember, I had a severe allergy to “aspirin” and would break out in hives from just the slightest bit of aspirin. I’d had become so disfigured at times, I became unable to function or go out for several days to a week.
It was earlier in 1981 when Dr. Horwitz, a Hoag Hospital radiologist I worked with, suggested I try a high dose regimen of Bufferin to help with pain that had become so disabling it had begun to limit my work. There were no NSAID drugs at that time. And I did not want to take opiates. I had read a number of articles on allergies and the use of mind-body mechanisms to overcome them. I knew at the core of even my allergy, there was a long held mis-directed belief that caused the hives. I knew I needed to only confront this unconscious memory and “change” my belief concerning it.
My neuromuscular or peripheral neuropathywas diagnosed by way of abnormal EMGs of both arms & legs, and a positive muscle/nerve biopsy of my left lower leg. Both of my legs had become thin and atrophied in appearance from the nearly 10 years I suffered these complaints. This was about June 1980. The Hoag neurologist informed me I would have to change careers and find a desk job to accommodate the loss of muscle tone in my back and legs. He told me I would also no longer be able to play sports.
So, for several weeks, I prayed and meditated on this allergy to aspirin, and “asked” the higher power that I be able to take Bufferin for several weeks to possibly help with my pain. I had very modest expectations. But like most types of change, I needed a push or catalyst — and this came one day by way of delayed test results & frustration in my rheumatologist’s office – that caused me to storm out and never return. On that day, I took responsibility for my health! And it changed me life!
The next day, I took my first tablet of Bufferin – AND I did NOT break out in hives. Then, I took another. And another! And there were no hives. Over the next 3 weeks, I took the maximum dose of 8 or 12 tablets per day. Whatever was the label’s listed maximum dosage at that time, that’s what I took.
By the end of my 2nd week on this Bufferin dose, my back and leg pains were remarkably improved, so much so, I was able to leap about my department’s exam rooms and lift heavy patients without limitation. Two weeks earlier, I could barely stand on my feet.
In the months that followed, I discovered when my complaints returned, all I needed do was “think” about the Bufferin and how I felt when taking it – the pain and weakness would quickly go away. This really caught my attention and led me to explore this apparent “Placebo Effect” further. So, over the next few months, anytime I experienced an ailment, a cold, an injury of any kind, etc., I would treat it through a mind-body conversation. I would look at my complaints, have a brief discussion with myself over it, and then tell it to go away. But this wasn’t the only change in my life. I soon realized I could see or “sense” illness in my patients and clinical work in nuclear medicine.
At that time, I had been working as a nuclear medicine technologist at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach for about 2 years. But I had been a technologist since 1976. I performed about 6-8 diagnostic & therapeutic procedures per day – each of which I worked up clinically. Apparently, with my change in consciousness from this healing experience, I could now sense the type and location of illness, eg. spread of metastises in my cancer patients while in the imaging room and in my brief clinical workup – before results were available and reviewed by the radiologist. Today, this is referred to as “medical intuitive.”
I could see the illness usually by simply talking to the patient. I eventually began to share this with Hoag physicians and co-workers. But, I had to be careful as the prevailing views about this then were that it was “quackery.” And I did not wish to be disciplined. I also could not share any results with patients. However, on occasion I would impart a healing affirmation or blessing to a patient. I had many wonderful discussions and thousands of patient interviews over the next eleven years (1981 to 1992) of imaging work.
1981 was many years before CAM would become accepted by Western medicine. And at that time, there were really no or few opportunities to do this for a living, which I was very interested in pursuing. So instead, I spent the next 10 years applying my mind-body methods to film & theatre acting, vocal work, and my own imaging business, plus became involved in a wide array of spiritual, health, and wellness healing modalities. If you get a chance, please also visit my in-depth blog on the brain science of basketball where I delve into the role of “mindfulness” of movement and proprioception in athletics.
Surviving the Challenges of a Major Neurological Disorder
In 1992, I developed the condition hydrocephalus after an auto accident in Costa Mesa, CA. In the past, I was able to manage any illness in-part with mind-body methods. But the hydrocephalus affected my cognition, making mind-body practices very difficult.
From 1992 to 2013, I underwent a total of 12 brain shunt surgeries with many related complications. I did fairly well considering the health challenges I faced.
I remain involved in the care and treatment of hydrocephalus, the cognitive neurosciences, mHealth apps, and putting on drumming workshops. I use the term “nuts & bolts” to describe my work with Western Medicine, i.e. methods which can be corroborated and reproduced by science, and CAM methods as healing via “the unseen,” referring to methods that are not well corroborated by pier reviewed medical studies. Many of my methods in drumming are now being corrborated today.
2012 (near) Spontaneous Healing of an Abdominal Fungal Rash
In March 2012, I experienced a near spontaneous healing of an abdominal fungal rash that arose from mycomplete VP shunt revision of Feb. 12, 2012. My peritoneal catheter had been revised by inflating my abdomen with air (laporoscopy technique). But it left a fungal rash at the site of both fenestrations that spread all over my abdomen and chest. The image shows it at 7 days post op. Sorry for the graphic illustration!
I was prescribed Betamethasone Dipropionate cream, a corticosteroid, and had been applying it for 6 weeks. It had spread even up to my chest. One Saturday morning in March 2012, I lay in bed and expressed my frustration as to why it hadn’t gone away. In that moment, I recall looking at the rash and saying, “You need to go away.” I thought it, and I meant it too. I didn’t commit any additional thought to it for the rest of the day. In the evening as I prepared for bed and removed my shirt, I noticed the rash was gone. Completely gone! Not a trace. I recall experiencing a wonderful feeling of calm.
From my years of reading and being involved in healing practices, I best explain this healing as a mindfulness affirmation, where my affirmation was also a command that the rash to go away. This was a bit different than my practices of the 1980s, when I held dialog with my body, injury, or illness, and gave instruction and asked that it be healed. On this day in 2012, I commanded it to go away. That’s a bit different mindset. I’m sure there are healing experts who might better explain this. This is my best recollection and understanding of the healing mechanism.
2010 Spontaneous Healing of Injured Shoulder at my YMCA Gym
The following is a spontaneous healing of my right shoulder that occurred in 2010 while working out in my area YMCA gym. I have had rotator cuff problem in my (non dominant) right shoulder for 30 plus years and it had been limiting the amount of dumbell weights for several months. Earlier I had a fantastic chiropractor who could help with adjustments. I’d been dealing with several months of pain and limitation that was especially problematic while lifting dumbell weights.
On this day, I was doing my normal routine, but with only about half the weight. And “something” occurred in between reps as I glanced over and caught a glimpse of a pretty buff guy who was lifting a lot of weight. In that instant, I had a moment of enlightenment, where for no particular reason I said to myself, “I can do that too” (lift heavy weights). And I instantantly began lifting my usual past weight, twice as much as when limited by pain. But now all pain was gone. In an instant, something happened in my consciousness where my shoulder became healed (at least from pain). I chronicled this on my Facebook Fan page where I attempted to explain it. I admit it came amid a more stable period of mental and physical health– that I think lends itself to healing. I feel the healing mechanism is self-hypnosis by way of conscious affirmation with the subconscious mind. There are many techniques for “healing.” In hypnosis and self-hypnosis, you modify your subconscious belief system.
Most Eastern healing methodologies follow “meridian theory,” which follows a map of the body’s energy fields. This also involves one’s physical and spiritual influences. Chiropractic medicine takes this a step further by adding “diagnostic” evaluations with a practice termed “Applied Kinesiology,” or AK, which uses the muscle reflext test. Chiropractors use AK as biofeedback to test and treat a variety of injuries & conditions. It is also used by practitioners in psychotherapy.
Applied Kinesiology is also involved in the body’s responses during drumming via an array of physiologic & meridian field interactions – which includes thru movement, emotion, vibration, connectedness, and brain wave entrainment. I’ve written extensively on drumming for the brain on my web site and blog. I host a dedicated web page on the Cognitive Neurosciences with links to my papers, blogs, and related web pages.
Other methods of biofeedback measurement include assessment of breathing, heart rate, brain waves, body temperature, and blood flow in the fingertips (i.e. the color Stress Card). I found AK testing easy to use and reproduce. It is also used in truth assessment. Other methods of truth assessment include heart rate monitoring (i.e. lie detector tests), voice, hand-writing, and eye contact analysis.
The effectiveness of CAM therapies is in part dependent on the level of “engagement,” or how well the individual believes and interacts with the methodology. In taiko drumming, for instance, there must be considerable engagement of the physical and emotional self. This is true in hand drumming & drum circles too. I incorporate these methods in my health and wellness drumming. CAM’s effectiveness can sometimes rival that of Western Medicine. In both, you must believe and have a desire to be healed. You can also choose to fight your treatment, where you will see poor outcomes. Reciprocally, you can be healed through your belief in a sugar pill, known as the “placebo effect.” The favorable response rate of the placebo effectin prescription drug studies ranges from 15-40%. Plant Therapy, like that seen in the photo below, is also useful in mind-body healing.
There is considerable evidence in support of the positive benefits of a physician’s bed-side manner in healing. I’ve witnessed numerous examples on this in Western Medicine. And at the center of each favorable outcome, is almost always LOVE & TRUST. As humans, we are particularly effected by the power of LOVE. And love is at the core of most CAM modalities, from energy work to meditation, chiropractic to drumming, CAM allows participants to engage their bodies, mind, and spirit thru love & trust. Just look at the love, trust, and engagement of the children in this drum circle below.
The effectiveness of CAM and mind-body modalities is also in large part dependent on the patient having an OPEN state of mind. The OPEN state of mind allows the patient to direct his/her thoughts and beliefs in support of the healing, and especially so when prompted by a therapist or facilitator, and similarly, in healing affirmations in your at home sessions. In fact, an OPEN state of mind is required to achieve success in almost every activity in life from sports play to school, counseling to group drumming (group hypnosis), and overcoming adversity. Keep an OPEN MIND. And BELIEVE!
It was in 1994 two years post hydrocephalus that I began to utilize music as therapy to help my related health challenges, and took music classes at Orange Coast College. This helped to reconnect my intuitive brain with my emotional self and address some of the damage done to me physically. This enhanced intuitive function became important to medical research I was doing, where my memory and short term memory were often problematic in complex neuroscience, mHealth, and artificial intelligence topics.
I also conducted research and wrote about sound Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)in neurological disorders, and drumming therapyas an adjunct healing art. The blog below was updated in April 2016. The opposite to calm, is CHAOS, like in the TV sets some of us grew up with.
In 2002, I undertook a study of Sensory Processing Disorderthat revealed important findings in cognition and mindfulness. Though my focus was SPD in hydrocephalus, my findings are relevant to ADHD, autism, migraine, post TBI, PTSD, addiction disorders, and anyone requiring mental focus and mindfulness. The inability to achieve this state often leads to illness and/or injury.
In 2008 I became involved in “cognitive accessibility,” the front line of accessibility accommodations relating to sensory processing disorder. I also own the domain http://www.CognitiveAccessibility.org
I am extensively involved in drumming for the brain as a facilitator, event organizer, neuroscience researcher, and speaker. Since 2005, I have put on over 200 community and private drumming events, including, numerous drumming workshops involving my research. I find group drumming particularly effective in health and wellness as it allows for the merging of neuroscience principles with the healing arts, and which can be tailored to programs to for specific health populations. Drumming is supported by both Western medicine and CAM principles.
Between my professional hydrocephalus consults, community drumming, Meetup events, and drumming workshops, I have validated many of my drumming methods.
In 2012, I conducted a 1:1 drumming therapy sessionwith a young girl with cerebral palsy and autism. She ended up having a remarkable response to my 35 minute drumming session, using only small hand percussion. Her favorite instrument turned out to be the Thunder Tube (not pictured) that she attempted to hold.
No doubt one of the more powerful mind-body group therapies is “group drumming.” It offers the ability to help participants detach from the constraints of their self-imposed belief system in healing of illness, managing pain, and overcoming the psychological hurdles needed to usher change in their life for self-healing. Drumming is able to alter our perception and attachment to a set of beliefs and behavior. The challenge for the facilitator then is in creating the right setting and structure.
The nuts & boltsportions I carry out through physical play and exercises, while the CAM portions are carried out through discussion, play, and affirmations of who/what you are, and who/what you want to be. Be it the effects of a brain disorder like hydrocephalus, or the metastatic spread of cancer, I believe drumming play and affirmations can create the kind of change in one’s belief system to cause change in one’s physical body. What is needed are structured workshops fine tuned to the specific population and setting.
I cannot say enough about athletic, movement, and proprioception activities. I’ve spent a lifetime in athletics and coaching, including, more than 20 of my son’s AYSO soccer and little league baseball teams where I often used philosophy and mind-body teachings, and in 10 years of my drumming work today.
I like to incorporate applied kinesiology, or AK, into wellness programs and therapeutic drumming. With a strong medical technology background, I was also able to design and patent an mHealth app for hydrocephalus in 1997, which today could accommodate AK testing and results. I’ve now written about mHealth appsfor migraine, and more widely in health care in these two blogs below.
I’m a big fan of AK and its diagnostic properties, and I use these methods to regularly evaluate and adjust my own cranial deficits, spinal misalignments, and shunt malfunction. I believe AK could be used to focus energy on a health problem during drumming play. The area could be the site of a tumor, a failing implant, or an injury.
The broader role for mHealth apps in CAMis as clinical case managers in ongoing therapy, in AK diagnostics with practitioners, and with your own at home practices. Bear in mind the primary weakness of the human brain is “memory.” Currently poor documentation of treatments limits CAM outcomes. mHealth apps and software would aid documenting this for better continuity of effective treatment.
The big challenge today for the next generation mHealth apps and UI interfaces is: How do you design apps that facilitate healing, while not being a distraction to healing? What is needed is an mHealth interface that includes the nuts & bolts of medicine, while not overwhelming the patient and allowing for interactive discussion and healing.
At the core of all healing is this profound statement, “What you believe to be true, Is.” This is termed the Biology of Belief.” Summing it up, it means that when you change your belief system — You change your life and health!
You can’t recover from an illness until you BELIEVE it will happen! You must also have “balance” in your life which will help in managing all aspects of your life. The Wheel Of Life image below illustrates the eight areas of your life you must bring into harmony.