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SIO Conference, New York City, November 2010
Bodhisattva Trading Co., Inc., exhibited with the Society for Integrative Oncology at their 7th International Conference at the New York Academy of Medicine, November 11 through 13th. Titled “Integrative Oncology: Informing the Debate in Practice, Research and Public Policy”, this diverse, non-profit organization of professionals in alternative medicine gathered at the edge of Central Park to study and advocate a range of integrated, therapeutic options for the treatment and recovery process from cancer. They presented data and lectures staking an integrative approach to Oncology treatment in a symptom-specific, pharmaceutical based medical world.
From their mission statement: “Combining the best of both conventional and evidence-based Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM), SIO looks at the whole person: body, mind and spirit. Emphasis is on patient participation (exercise, diet, stress management) in maximizing health and the primacy of the patient/provider relationship, the importance of shared decision making.”
Oncologists on the SIO Board welcomed a broad range of therapeutic disciplines to participate in the conference. The conference targeted physicians, nurses, researchers, acupuncturists, social workers, scientists, naturopaths, psychologists, psychotherapists, massage therapists, herbalists, music therapists, public health professionals, patient advocates, researchers from educational institutions and integrative clinics worldwide – all were eager to engage in the debate. Competing nutritional supplement companies exhibited, each touting their products’ superior effectiveness with the least amount of side-effects to Western medications. And in the midst of it all, Bodhisattva made a case for an ancient stress-reduction technique with the least invasive substance around: vibration.
Even in New York City, home to a sizable Tibetan population, we looked out of place. No glossy banners or pamphlets, no take-home samples. Just a couple of tables of singing bowls being played by curious medical professionals on their breaks, balancing their need for coffee and bagels with their curiosity about what the singing bowls were doing there.
At one point, I noticed a quiet, middle-aged Asian woman hovering behind a small cluster of nurses trying out bowls. Let’s call her Anna C.. I asked if she wanted to try to play one, but she was content just to observe. But she kept coming back at the breaks, darting in and out of the booth like a humming bird. Finally, during the lunch break on the second day, she was ready to ask questions. A pediatrician from Passaic, New Jersey, she was in treatment for breast Cancer. She asked the simple question I hear so often: how do I choose a singing bowl? Normally, I have a very straightforward answer to that question: “Pick up a mallet and softly strike a number of bowls til you get a feeling for the tonal range of bowls we have. If you find yourself being pulled back to a certain bowl, pay attention to that: your body is telling you what frequency it needs.” However, her case felt very different to me. Her face was taut from stress of fighting her cancer, and fear was palpable in her eyes. So the stress reduction benefits of the singing bowls were something she obviously needed and any beautifully tuned singing bowl would help her. But which bowl do I recommend to someone with breast cancer?
Obviously, I can’t tell anyone that a singing bowl is going to cure cancer. However, many patients have cured themselves of their cancer by a combination of medical protocols, mental and emotional intentions and complementary therapies, including sound therapy. This woman was attracted to the singing bowls for a reason.
I got a strong intuition that balancing her Heart Chakra would be a good approach due to that Chakra’s proximity to the location of her cancer. This could help to unblock any unresolved emotional or energetic patterns that may have stored tension in this area, leading to a weakened immunity against cancer cell production. This is not something one needs to do at a doctor’s office or clinic; but in the privacy of one’s own home or office, and according to one’s own schedule. So, I know any Heart Chakra singing bowl would serve this purpose. But Heart Chakra – according to which Sound Healing system?
As there are many different Sound Healing Schools all ascribing different musical frequencies to the Chakras, I have a number of frequencies to choose from in situations such as this. Normally, I would have selected a Heart Chakra singing bowl based on the Tamado Academy’s Meridian-based frequency system. But a 6 ¼” Buddha bowl with a perfect, third octave F “called” to me from a storage bucket under the table. I rummaged around, found it, and put it in her hands.
I worked with her for about 10 to 15 minutes, just long enough to teach her how to rim a clear female overtone and how to isolate the fundamental. But even the lessons had an immediate, visible effect: her shoulders and face had relaxed, her complexion had gotten a little color, her eyes brightened and best of all, her worried demeanor was replaced with a great, big smile. She obviously resonated with the bowl, and I was glad we found one in a modest price range that wouldn’t place a burden on someone already saddled with the cost of conventional cancer therapy.
Within 48 hours of my return to Los Angeles, I got a breathless call from Anna. She had developed a relationship with her bowl. The more she practiced with it, the louder and more fully it was singing. She was ecstatic to find a non-narcotic way to ease the tension she felt, and she said that playing it had taken away a pain she had in her abdomen. She even shared that the bowl had regulated her. While admittedly, this is not a benefit one often hears about the bowls, for a singing bowl to lessen any side effects of chemotherapy is gratifying for us and definitely an improvement for her! Anna said she was sharing her singing bowl with some of the nurses at work; one who was very stressed out, and another who was also battling cancer.
I look forward to continuing my communications with Anna, and am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet her. My dream, of course, is that one day she will be prescribing singing bowls for the kids in her practice.