Participants' Experiences - 1
Effects on physical problems
Many of those with physical health problems have claimed physical, as well as psychological, benefits (eg see Munyard et al 2002; Cloverleaf et al 2002; Rakusen 2000; Dossier). Examples of psychological benefits for people with chronic physical conditions are included elsewhere.
Conditions where physical benefits have been claimed by participants include:-
Untreatable back pain
Some examples follow.
“Again, GV was a fantastic resource for me to use during labour” (dossier)
“[GV] gives power and strength when physically I am ill and spent”
“When I come to the GV group my back pain disappears. Nothing else cures it!” Writing after one GV day, this man continued, “I have been able to swim, pain free, three times this week. This is incredible, as I have been unable to swim for months because of my back pain. Thanks!” After another day, he wrote, “I felt I had been opened inside and given a generous oiling all over.”
[this man had long-standing severe back pain for many years, and said he had ‘tried everything’ – allopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, etc etc. Despite being told that the pain relief was not being given to him, but that it was something he was doing, and that he could develop awareness of what it was, so that he could do it without the facilitation of the teacher (JR), he tended to laugh disbelievingly. He steadfastly resisted choosing to learn to do it for himself, knowing full well the absurdity of his apparent choice.
I myself am personally aware of how easily we can avoid taking responsibility for our health – and even our pain: once I was beside myself with chronic pain; through putting myself in the hands of a song at the most profound level, I became utterly pain-free for about 3 days. I’ve had a lot of pain on many occasions since, and have never been able to replicate this astonishing experience. For some unconscious reason, I haven’t been able to find the willingness and the trust that I found then. Maybe it just hasn’t been as bad, but I suspect that my need to experience lack of trust has been greater than my belief that I could be pain-free. I’m working on it though! [JR]
“I’ve halved my blood pressure tablets. I think there must be a connection with Giving Voice, since a lot of my b/p has been through stress, and I’ve been using GV to alleviate this ... am also taking much more responsibility for my general well-being.”
Someone with MS attending a day believed that the session helped her with her ability to walk and stand.
“I keep hitting my head on the kitchen cupboards!”
Someone with severe, long-standing fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, reported an extraordinary development whereby one particular song
“has connected with the pain and it’s eased”. She went on: “This is the first time I’ve had [relief] like this. Gardening, I’ve been surprised how less bad my back’s been. And I’m standing taller because I’m less hunched up with pain, and it’s since my experience with this song! It means I keep hitting my head on the kitchen cupboards – the first time ever (I’ve had them 15 years!)”
"When I started to sing, it made me cry. Tears of joy and recognition - as if I'd found a way. Joy at singing with someone else [she was singing with the tape]. Joy at singing wholeheartedly. It's resonating in my whole body - my feet are vibrating. It's a release of creativity - this is wonderful for me because I'm so limited by physical weakness in using my arms - I can’t do things like drawing, painting, or writing. I get really irritated. Today I feel I've really worked. I've really enjoyed it."
Effects on relationships and attitudes to others.
“I can’t remember the last time I shouted at my children!” (several months after Huddersfield Survivors’ course)
“I feel very much part of a whole –even though I don’t know what the whole is doing”
“[I feel more able to stand firm in the face of criticism...I feel stronger now and more trusting of other people. I don’t feel afraid anymore.”(Huddersfield Survivors’ course )
“[It] brought healing and resolving love to a [relationship] issue I’d been struggling with.”
“[I have] changed and developed my outlook of how I see other people and their circumstances.”
“GV helps my relationship with myself and others – for example to be aware of deeply felt feelings, but not always to take action from them – rather to be aware and just accept them. It helps me relate better to all life forms, heightening my observation of them. It enables me to experience the powerful support of the universe”
At the residential I had an experience of true community for the first time ever. Initially it surprised me because I didn’t think it would be possible, given the group of people I was with. I guess I got out of the way of my prejudices and decided to be willing! Every time I get together and sing like that with people, I reconnect with that eternal singing community. And now I can get that by singing alone too! In those GV groups where everyone is committed – is giving of themselves and their truth - it’s even more rich, challenging and exciting!”
“Occasionally feelings of overwhelm and being put upon changed very quickly … (if) I accessed the song within my heart.”
“I have felt LOVE in abundance which has dominated my whole experience. I will end up writing an essay so I will summarise key words and hopefully people will understand …
… Contentment Courage Clarity Beauty Compassion & Passion
"I've already smiled at more people than usual!" (participant commenting early on in a ‘Distance Participation Day’. Through doing the day she reported feeling “more connected and less alone”
“[Singing a particular] song made me realise my responsibility for what happens in the world. At first I found this very uncomfortable and challenging. But then I started to rise to the challenge, and as I did so, all my family relationships immediately started to change. It’s helped me so much!”
“It gave me an opening. To see that there is love : it is there - that there’s something to yearn for. You’ve got to know it’s there, otherwise you can’t yearn for it. It gave me exactly what I needed for dealing with this new world situation. Wonderful. Beautiful”
“Found it encouraging. Felt that …by singing this song it can help to heal the wounds of ourselves and others (past and present) – just as the song says.
“I’d been involved in a week-long community event some years ago, and several people were feeling bruised and upset after a difficult interaction in the group. I was preparing to facilitate a morning session and was inspired to remember a particular song, which I had been using in my own personal Giving Voice process. The words begin, “We are going, heaven knows where we are going …”. As the 70-strong group gradually joined in with the song, the difficult atmosphere tangibly diminished and group members moved off to the day with a joy and sense of joint purpose which had been missing the night before.
I met with some of the women involved in that event recently, and they asked me to share the song again it was clear that the experience of that song all those years ago was still with them.”
Caroline Thorpe, Giving Voice teacher