Symphonic Health

I’m old enough to remember putting a vinyl album on a record player. For those unfamiliar, a movable arm contains a pin that fits in the groove of a precisely cut vinyl disc. As the record spins, the needle dances upon a grooved landscape to generate sound.

I’m also old enough to find this process utterly amazing. Think about it: Two physical objects (the record and the pin) interact with such subtlety as to produce a mechanical signal translated as sound. The astounding part is how complex and nuanced that sound can be. The physical stimulus is beyond the thump of a hand on a drum; an entire orchestra of sound can result from a needle interacting with a groove. It occurs to me that this is analogous to how the body heals when encountering bodywork.

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Whether massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic, the body receives a physical stimulus that encourages a multitude of downstream effects. As an acupuncturist I’m drawn to this metaphor—the record player and I both use a needle to elicit a response. Inserting a needle at a precise location and applying mechanical stimulation generates waves of local and distal effects. It speaks to the vibratory nature of existence.

We accept as self evident that certain senses (color and sound in particular) are vibrations that the brain translates into a sensory experience. Less appreciated is the vibratory nature of touch. Yet physical contact is interpreted by the brain as readily as the other senses. So, too, should physical modalities of medicine be viewed as energy medicine, even when it’s an elbow digging into a tight glute muscle.

Through the lens of physics, what does this suggest about all forms of medicine? Does a pharmaceutical drug or herbal supplement prescribed to treat the same disorder produce similar vibratory changes in the body? Does a surgical incision send a discordant or symphonic shock wave through the body? How does the intention of the healer, whether surgeon or acupuncturist, color that experience? After all, the person selecting the track has a certain amount of control over what kind of music will be heard.

Each person is a unique album of divinely inspired music. Sometimes deep scratches of trauma disturb the quality of the sound, but unlike a fixed vinyl album, the human brain and heart can change, can heal, and once again play the sublime chords of the soul. When we are sick or depressed, a cacophony of discordancy can be heard. When we are well and balanced, the melodic music of the human experience resounds. What kind of music is playing on your life album?

July 23, 2021

Categories: Philosophy

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