Music, a Dying Bird and a Miracle of Insight
By Sally Oldfield
When I was first asked to write this article I decided it was a wonderful opportunity
to share with people who have an interest in this subject the rather extraordinary
experience I have undergone in the last year or so creating what ,to me,. is
probably my most authentic album of songs to date whilst in the grip of often
incapacitating Chronic Fatigue
About ten years ago I learnt to be a Reiki healer -- [Reiki is the Japanese word for universal life energy]-- and it has been one of the most valuable tools I have ever acquired ; particularly as it allows the practitioner to generate self-healing as well as assisting others to heal. The simplicity of the technique affords me many rewarding opportunities to offer spontaneous healing sessions to friends and family. As there is a wealth of literature on the subject of CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome] I will simply list some references that have been most helpful to me at the end of this article and maintain the focus of what I want to share upon the following: namely, examining how it became possible to intertwine in a miraculous way -
1.A fragile and exhausted neuro-endocrine system [and, for the purposes of
this article, one can substitute any illness]
2.A passionate desire to be able to create a fulfilling life and work for myself.
3.The ancient healing art of touch
4.The catalytic effect of music.
My first memory of this past year’s journey of discovery is of an October
morning ,having returned from a promotion tour of Spain the night before, when
I awoke and knew, with deadly certainty, that if my new album “Flaming
Star” was EVER going to get off the ground then TODAY would have to be
the day I began to record again. My career had been on hold for four years as
I took stock of my life and health and considered the direction I now wanted
my life to take.
.My particular form of CFS manifested its worst symptoms first thing in the morning as a loud message in my ear saying “You know your body will barely make it to the kitchen without the enticement of a double espresso which your doctor said was the adrenal stressor “par excellence”.
“What about trying some Reiki ?” said my good fairy who had carefully
laid out the chamomile tea for my morning drink.. I duly laid my hands on my
head to try and quell the caffeine demon and its attendant genie painting glorious
visions of stolen energy coursing through my stricken system. I waited for some
sort of magical response that would impel me out of bed towards the joys of chamomile
tea and ,as usual, I waited in vain.
What happened next was crucial to my understanding of my illness although at that time and on that morning I was as blithely unaware of how my indifference to my body’s urgent signals were self-generating my condition. I believe this to be true of most illness.
In a nutshell, I did what I always did in the mornings which was to down a strong espresso, never mind the panic, and use the “borrowed “ energy to get me through the day.
Case Study: How my most cherished client, a wounded bird found on my doorstep, showed me the way to healing.
I had arrived home one late afternoon in December to find a small bird stranded on my doorstep, obviously the victim of the local cat’s latest aborted hunting escapade. It is a sad fact to me that our “sweet pussycats” have retained only half of their wild predatory skills leaving in their wake these traumatized but uneaten prey. The more I practice healing the more I find that the boundary between my energy field and that of other living beings becomes blurred and, on this particular occasion, I was instantly and acutely aware of the state of severe shock that this little bird was in, apart from its injuries that, on the surface, were not immediately apparent.
I carried it indoors and made it as comfortable as I could in a box of cotton
wool and then started to enfold it in my hands to see how it would respond to
Reiki. Usually animals and birds [also young children] are particularly receptive.
As the warmth and energy started to flow and the bird made a sudden feeble attempt to fly before crash-landing in my hands again I became strangely riveted by this energy field of SHOCK. It so grabbed my attention with the realization that this little being was SO traumatized that it was difficult for it to receive the healing energy and, I suppose, in a sense, unable to trust. I felt that I was losing my bearings in this healing situation and also losing my trust in myself that I would be able to bring any comfort to the bird. I was also starting to feel that ,in some way, my own nervous system was in a similar though different state of a more diffused kind of shock and that, even before the bird came to me, this was indeed an integral part of my experience of CFS. Maybe I should return it to the garden and let nature take its course however long its suffering may be. This whole idea was so abhorrent to me that I decided to persevere wherever it may lead.
I had been working on a song for the album earlier that day and had been listening
to some particularly appealing and soothing music. I often use music to assist
me in letting go of the mind-chatter that blocks inspiration. I instinctively
put on the CD again and let the music flow into the healing I continued to
give to “my little bird” as it now became.
I have always been aware of music’s power to amplify and transform feeling states and also to focus the attention in a creative way upon what these feelings may be telling us. The connection with the bird’s energy field now became so strong that it was as if there was only one flow of current that had its own intelligence and was seeking with more and more gathering power for the source of healing for ALL damaged life.
As the music began to interact with this “emotional intelligence “ that seemed to be coursing through my veins, my mind began to accelerate its ability to connect memories of previous healing experiences into a highly ordered pattern of insights.
I felt the bird making another attempt to fly as its adrenal system started to kick in a little bit and then again crash-landed . The second time this happened I suddenly felt a surge of pure grief welling up from some unfathomable source---it was not a personal grief about some life-event of my own but rather the pure essence of human sorrow around all hopes and dreams crushed in their infancy. Yet mingled with this swirling but strangely coherent “healing soup ” within my awareness was the injunction that all injured life needs to be cradled and held so that the simple meaning of the symptoms may be clearly heard.
I realized that I could be on the brink of discovering something profound for
my own healing process and felt an unbelievably strong emotional bond with this
fragile life that had found its way into my possibly healing care.
Then, without warning, the bird made another attempt to fly and again crash-landed, this time for the last time as I felt the connection suddenly break and I knew its spirit had left. I could not believe this had happened and just sat there stunned and utterly bereft.
The sudden stillness was so profound that I felt catapulted into a kind of quantum gap experience]that was like a cross between that “brink of death whole life memory” and a sense of being poised on a knife edge between the known and the unknown. My body had never felt so alive yet never had I felt so close to death.
This sense of the fusion of opposites ignited a cascade of vivid memories and insights that, continually supported and amplified by the galvanizing effect of the uplifting music, carried me on a wave of inspiration to the clear memory of a healer called Denise Linn with whom I had studied for a short time. She had been seriously injured as a young woman by a sniper attack and had spent her life studying healing of various kinds but particularly with native American shamans. She told me that, in native American tradition, if you see feathers in your life that particularly draw your attention and, most particularly, if a bird dies somewhere near you then it has given its spirit into your keeping to empower your life-quest in some way.
The sense of having received an incredible gift was so overwhelming that it felt as if a whole lifetime of a sense of insufficiency and lack was swept away on a wave of such gratitude and humility that the vague sense of having “failed “ in my healing work was consigned to oblivion.. I sat there overwhelmed with tenderness for the dead bird and such a deep sense of strength and energy that I knew I had been healed, at the deepest level, of Chronic Fatigue although its physical manifestation may take time to work through.
I realized that I had been “fighting” exhaustion for so long that it had become self-perpetuating and, although I had known I was doing that on an intellectual level, that level of knowledge had not been deep enough to effect a change. As I sat there holding the little bird’s soft and fragile body the message it had brought me that ALL life is infinitely fragile and needs to be “cradled “ by human consciousness and infinitely valued for its own sake continued to be supported and amplified by the music. My own body began to feel softer, more alive, more of a mystery to me and I knew that true physical nurturing of myself could begin. Until this happens we cannot offer genuine healing to others.
A New Life
Even beyond the above realizations there came a further brightening of the light.; this by far the most powerful. We live in a society and a time that has all but lost touch with tenderness and gratitude for the gift of life. We have lost touch with any sense of the sacredness of the natural world and that of our own bodies and we are paying the price.Yet the only thing that can ever make a difference is on the level of each and every one of us as individuals is in the way we live our own lives. I have never met “society” or had a chat with “modern civilization” –only people like you and me feeling less than well a lot of the time and blaming something outside ourselves.
We have heard about people who have made miraculous recoveries from life-threatening illnesses, write the book and then become a beacon of light for others regarding the preciousness of life. Death is a life-changing experience. To live with “death on our shoulder” is one of the greatest meditation practices.
But do we always have to wait for a diagnosis of cancer, the sudden death of a loved one, a catastrophic rise in global pollution to become open and sensitive enough to hear the primal cry of all life “I am you, I am all there is, I am only now ” and then to respond to its call ?
I buried my heaven-sent bird in the shade of a pine tree in my garden and watched its brave spirit carry my new life purpose, with boundless energy, straight to the heart of the sky. My new album had a new purpose and and my music now played to a different drum.
At this time of our evolution I feel that the individual human spirit has never had so much freedom and scope to soar in its efforts to evolve and connect with like-minded souls whose consciousness is expanding beyond the materialistic and the ego-centric. The technology for communication and creativity is awesome yet it is only that pinnacle of evolutionary achievement—an individual human brain—that can unite these forces in a powerful and nurturing way.
We cannot heal the planet without healing ourselves and maximizing our ability to be a vehicle for the universal life energy .Amongst other things music is a great bonding and healing agent and through its ministry my own healing was accelerated. Soon after my bird was buried the song “Bird of Paradise” came to me in a flood of new energy and inspiration ------
1. Deepak Chopra M.D. –Magical Mind Magical Body -[Tape series] - Nightingale
Conant Corporation-7300 ,North Lehigh Ave,Chicago, IL 60648
2. Denise Linn—Information about her work obtainable from offices for the Festival of Mind Body and Spirit in London.. Denise Linn Website
3. Dr.Gerald E. Poesnecker,N.D.,D.C. Chronic Fatigue Unmasked 2000 published by Humanitarian Publishing Co. Quakertown,PA 18951 --- www.chronicfatigue.org
4. Sally Oldfield—Song “Bird of Paradise” from the album “Flaming Star” on New World Music released 2001