The mind’s connection with music is primal. Music has strong connections to memory, so what is it about music that opens the door to recollection when at other times that door remains stubbornly locked?
The recent viral video of a ballerina in her nineties with dementia “returning to life” when music is played to her is incredibly moving, demonstrating eloquently the power of music to connect with our deepest selves. The video has obviously resonated deeply - it has been seen over 2 million times in a month.
The ballerina featured in the video (which you can also see in the link at the end of this article), Marta Cinta Gonzalez Saldaña, was given headphones to listen to the music from SWAN LAKE, a ballet in which she had performed the lead many times as a younger woman.
She gestures to the assistant to increase the volume of the music and suddenly - unexpectedly - she is connected with her true self. Her facial expression and upper body movements are evidence that a direct link has been established between the woman and her earlier, authentic self. It is a profoundly moving scene which reminds us of the priceless value of memory, and how memory is fundamental to who we are.
The devastation to our loved ones from Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory-related declines are catastrophes to so many people, not just the person affected. We see our beloved friend or family member “slipping away”, and there appears little we can do about it. An “invisible wall” is as distressing to those locked in as to those locked out. Advances in neuroscience are gradually bringing pieces of evidence to light about this cruellest of diseases, but always too slowly for those suffering right now. We should remember that there are sometimes contributing factors too. An event occurs which triggers a decline, perhaps physical - maybe a fall, bringing with it less movement, consequently muscles decline in content and ability - and the path for decline is set. This is why activity and movement is especially important for people in later life.
But why should music have such power? From the earliest stages of an embryo’s development, sound is one of the first sensual experiences the unborn child encounters, and so those neural pathways are amongst the earliest created and reinforced. The most primal sound, the rhythm of heartbeat, may be the very first aural experience the embryo reacts to, and aligns with. When born, the baby’s attempts at sound making are all attempts at communication, and music, in the form of nursery rhymes and lullabies, are connected sounds that babies hear again and again, deeply ingraining the neural pathways regarding sound and its effect upon us. Our brain’s natural, constant search for pattern is rewarded richly in the stream of musical notes and their pitch, flow and cadence. Music has an elemental power to connect with our souls and minds.
This video is proof positive that everything that we see, feel and experience throughout our lives doesn’t disappear or fade away at the onset of memory-related disease – it doesn’t go away; It’s all still “in us”. It just needs new pathways to be forged with professional help, so that the individual is empowered to negotiate the unfamiliar terrain in their own minds. We need to pull some of the bricks from that “invisible wall” and build bridges with them.
We need to understand that all memory-decline diseases affect the conscious mind only. We must also be acutely aware that emotion is the language of the subconscious, whereas logic is the language of the conscious mind. Further, we must remember that the subconscious is 90% or more of our brain, whereas the conscious is just 10%, or less. In our minds, whenever there is a battle between emotion and logic, emotion always wins.
Healthcare professionals can focus their work upon what’s still working to achieve results. The emotional framework is still intact and this is what’s used to reconnect to the memory systems which are losing their connectivity.
Music activates a memory that is attached to emotions and wonderful feelings which transport that person back to that original moment. Here, it’s important to understand that the mind doesn’t recognise past or future, it only recognises the present. So our mind only responds in present time. It doesn’t matter how old the memory is, when you are experiencing it the body is making those chemicals associated with that memory right now all over again. So you are responding to thought alone. If the thought is happy, you’ll feel great. And, sadly, vice-versa.
In the video you can see that this lady has been transported. She is responding to a memory from the past in the present and at that moment, it is new again. It’s a thought from the past but she is experiencing it right now.
You can try this yourself. Recall one of your happiest memories, like your wedding day, the birth of your children - or whatever in your past has brought you most joy. Now try to be aware of how you are feeling in the present moment and how your body is responding. Your mind is making those chemicals all over again – right now.
So we can see that there are opportunities here to work with the subconscious when the conscious fails us.
As it also deals with the subconscious, Rapid Transformational Therapy can play a positive role too. From reported experience in two separate cases, a parent of one of my colleagues developed some cognitive decline. With the application of RTT, and the elimination of underlying issues, they each significantly regained their mobility as well as the ability to speak and sing. The subjects’ feelings are reportedly now much more positive than previously, and as a result they are more engaged rather than withdrawn. This suggests that people with cognitive decline may well be able to slow their decline significantly, in conjunction with their recommended medication and professional care.
Aside from comprehensively following medical advice, what can we do to help our loved ones? We can find out what that person responds to and then stimulate them by focusing on those areas. It could be anything, so it’s important to try as many different areas as possible. Touch, music, movement, drawing, or many others - and just keep exploring. Keep returning to areas which trigger a response as this will stimulate the existing neural pathway connections as well as creating new ones. It absolutely takes effort, but by putting in the work you are more likely to reap the rewards.
It’s also helpful to remember the importance of diet to those with memory decline issues. The brain is comprised of about 60% fat, which sounds alarming - but this is healthy fat which is vital for brain and overall body health and helps stabilize the cell walls in the brain. It can also reduce inflammation and helps the immune system function properly. We can help the brain by feeding it fish oils (or plant based oils with Omega 3 and 6), Zinc and Vitamin B and Magnesium, nature’s own relaxant – as well as a healthy well-balanced diet rich in colourful fruit and vegetables.
While nothing is guaranteed in this area of health, the important thing to remember is that there is hope. With an holistic approach, utilising all the tools available in a personally-tailored program, we can make a significant contribution to that person's wellbeing. Let’s all do what we can to support the acquisition of further knowledge in the hope that future generations will have more tools at their disposal to fight back against all kinds of memory loss issues. It’s important to recognise the many dedicated specialists working in this field, as well as The Alzheimer’s Society and many other pioneering organisations who are at the forefront of the fight to keep our loved ones; let's all try to support them whenever we are able to.
Meanwhile, let’s all make time to enjoy our favourite music, knowing that it is actually doing us good- and let’s all keep moving!
BALLERINA RELIVES SWAN LAKE
READ MORE ABOUT THE ORGANISATION WHICH CREATED THIS PROGRAM, MUSICA PARA DESPERTAR
Hello! I'm so happy to share with you that my new YouTube channel, Change I Deserve by Juan Carlos Gouveia, is now live, with its first video themed around Christmas.
I was thrilled when the channel received well over 100 views in its first day, so a big THANK YOU! to everyone who stopped by to enjoy the video.
I'm looking forward to sharing ideas , insights and tips which will help you create positive changes in your life.
If you have a few minutes to spare, I'd love you to visit.
You can find the channel here
I'll be updating the channel regularly in 2021 - I hope to see you there!
This Friday the 13th November is World Kindness Day and I want to invite you to get involved.
We all know in our hearts that everyday should be world kindness day, but for now, let’s take things one step at a time. Here is a day on which we can focus our attention, even if it’s just for a short while, on practising kindness - whether that’s for ourselves, friends or family, our communities or even a total stranger. Kindness gives multiple benefits for all participants. It costs nothing, yet means the world.
Kindness is one of the pillars of being human which unites us across all differences, whether in cultures, religions, genders, social classes and teachings.
So how did World Kindness Day come about? It began in 1998, initiated by an international group called the World Kindness Movement (WKM), a non-profit organisation which has no political, religious or commercial affiliations. The movement now has representatives right across the world, helping to make World Kindness Day a truly global phenomenon, and a wonderfully positive way to express our common humanity.
Why is kindness so important? Well, kindness helps people develop, thrive and grow in positive ways as they go through their life’s journey. It further strengthens connections between individuals and the society in which they live (and those societies in which they choose to participate, e.g. online communities). Kindness is the right choice every time.
Research has shown that in learning situations, kind and supportive environments enable better achievement. And kind environments support not only better learning, but help those who may be suffering from anxiety, depression, anger and a whole range of negatively-framed mindsets and actions to live healthier, more fulfilled lives.
One of the most important things is to teach kindness to our youngsters – about its value, and how it helps us, a valuable tool to make ourselves - and others - feel better. Many schools are participating in World Kindness Day, with lots of resources being available for pupils to think about, practice and learn about the value and benefits of kindness.
In addition, great charities such as 52lives' School of Kindness and the Museum of Happiness take kindness lessons into our schools to help children understand the real value of kindness, and plant the seeds of positive action for the benefit of the future adults of the world. With a better understanding of kindness, it is more likely that tomorrow’s young adults will be more informed about how to look after themselves and their mental health. They deserve that. And that will have benefits for everyone.
So please get involved by spreading your own kindness 'sunshine' around. It can be anything you want it to be. But if it's helpful, here's just a few suggestions for you to add to.
For others it could be a phone call to an isolated friend or relative, baking treats for your kids’ lunchboxes, a smile to a stranger you pass in the street, buying a sandwich or a hot drink for a homeless person you might encounter.
For yourself, it could be making time for a long bath, enjoying a country walk, listening to music which brings happy memories, treating yourself to some inner kindness by meditating -or simply checking that you are speaking kindly to yourself (we all have our “inner critic” and today’s the day to turn their volume down).
You’ll have so many great ideas of your own and I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
However you practice kindness, every single thing you do helps to make the world a kinder place. And we all need that right now!
Hello, and thanks for visiting my new blog. So many of you (clients, colleagues, partners, friends and family) have been asking me when I would get around to writing a blog as you want to hear more about what I share in my social media posts, and related topics including health, wellbeing, and of course the incredible power of Rapid Transformational Therapy to change lives for the better.
Well, just between us, I have been doing quite a lot of writing recently. My first book is due to be completed early next year. I’ll tell you more about that later, and you can be sure that I will share a few exclusive extracts with you pre-publication too.
I spent some time thinking about what I’d like to talk with you about for this very first blog entry, and it didn’t take too long for me to realise that the subject was staring me right in the face; CHANGE!
Had you ever stopped to consider how much change you deal with on a daily basis? Probably not! So that’s why I want us to focus on it for just a few moments.
We are all experiencing and adapting to change every moment of our lives, both internally (in mind and body) and externally (in our interactions with others and the outside world), whether we are aware of this or not. And, whether we currently think so or not, we are doing a great job!
Perhaps because of this constant shifting all around us, we sometimes feel ourselves resistant to change – how many times do you hear people say “I don’t like change” or “I like things just the way they are”. That’s actually our minds talking- because our brains’ top priority is to keep us safe - so instinctively, they don’t like change – and do their best to resist it.
There are several fundamental types of change. Let’s take a moment to consider each type to really get an idea of the scale of these challenges.
There is a significant contrast between changes over which we have some control and those over which we have no control. To deal with these we would be well advised to act upon the first type and do what we can to come to terms with the second. With the changes we cannot do anything about, remember that we still have choices to make. Most importantly, we can choose how we respond to those events. By doing this, we can decrease our resistance which also helps to lessen our levels of tension and anxiety.
Another contrast is between positive change (such as gaining a qualification, getting a raise or finding a partner) and negative change (health issues, job insecurity, conflict at home or work). These can variously be welcomed, celebrated, resisted or adjusted to. Again, it is helpful to remember that whatever the situation, we always have the power to choose how we respond to these changes.
What adds to the complexity of all this change is that it is happening consistently both inside us and in our external worlds too. Internally these changes could be about your mood, your current mental health, your responsibilities and commitments, concerns about your finances, your health, relationships or many other issues. And externally you could also be dealing with other people’s versions of all these – children, parents, friends, work colleagues. And then of course we are all getting older- another change which can often prove a challenge for a lot of us. Phew!
So although we may feel challenged by change, we need to get things into perspective and appreciate that we are actually doing an incredible job dealing with the countless changes thrown at us every single day of our lives.
And yes, let us now include the vast amount of sudden and unprecedented change which Covid-19 has brought about, forcing us to think (often in careful detail) about how we do things, making many small or large adjustments to routines that we used to simply take for granted. That takes a lot of flexibility, courage and compassion, both for ourselves and for others. That’s before we even start to consider the huge changes dealt with so valiantly by our care, emergency and other front-line services.
For many of us it has been one of the most challenging times of our lives, and look what it has highlighted- genuine outpourings of gratitude, community spirit, consideration for others, social care, all in ways that many previously thought unlikely, or at worst unthinkable.
Of course, I do appreciate that we all have our ups and downs in these times, and that many people are struggling. It is heartening to see that families, friends and communities are doing much to help those whose situations might be more difficult than our own – but that underlines my belief that by offering help to others when you are able, we can all contribute to the task of coping with change.
Let’s not put ourselves under unnecessary pressure – our responses to change are unlikely to be perfect; but if each of us does the best that we can one day at a time, then that is all we can reasonably ask of ourselves.
So let’s celebrate one of our shared strengths that this virus has uncovered - We now have proof that we are good at change!