Over the last decade, neuroscience & medical science have made many long overdue advances in understanding the human brain. Much of this followed the research published about 12 years ago regarding neuroplasticity of the brain, aging, injury, and how the brain can still form new connections well into our later years. But, some of the more provocative developments in my view have come about in the areas of cognition with music and the brain, hypnosis, and meditation, and neuro and assistive technologies. Many of the mind-body modalities were developed many years ago, but were not well understood or corroborated thru science until more recently. As much as we’ve come today, we still have a long way to go in understanding many of the basic functions of the brain necessary for how this can be applied to medical disorders like autism, stroke, TBI, and hydrocephalus, to name a few.
I’ve done my part in my work with hydrocephalus, and with drumming and the brain. Now it’s your turn.
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.