Bill Thomson interviews Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, Director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at the Strang-Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in New York, USA. Published in Gong Sound Healing
Update: As reported by Jay Syrmopoulos at Natural Blaze on September 18, 2015, Dr. Mitchell Gaynor was found dead a few days before in the woods near his upstate New York home, after walking away from a car accident. His sudden and surprising demise brings the total to 11 alternative health care providers in the USA that have been found dead in less than 90 days.
Dr. Gaynor, author of the book The Healing Power of Sound, actively uses sound in his integrative oncology practice.
NT: How did you discover Tibetan ‘singing’ bowls and their usefulness in healing?
Gaynor: Well, I took care of a Tibetan monk in 1991. I’m a cancer specialist and also a hematologist and I had been working with guided imagery and meditation with my patients since the mid-1980’s. I was actually asked to see this Tibetan monk at Cornell Medical Center for a routine medical problem which was anemia. But he was suffering from a very severe disease that was destroying his heart muscle called cardiomyopathy. I talked with him about what we could do for his anemia and what diagnostic work-up we’d do.
I always talk with my patients on an in-depth level about what’s going on in their lives and I noticed a tremendous sense of sadness and resignation in his eyes. So I asked him to tell me about his life and he recalled a time when he was 3-years old and was living as a Tibetan refugee in India. His parents were very poor and could no longer afford to feed him and his brother, so they had to take them to an orphanage run by Tibetan Buddhist monks. He recalled watching his parents walk away; he reached out through the fence and was asking them not to leave and you could really feel his sense of anguish. I didn’t think it was any coincidence that on an emotional level he had a broken heart and on a physical level he was suffering, literally, from a broken heart.
He left the hospital about 2 weeks later and he gave me as a gift a metal Tibetan singing bowl. I had never heard one before. I didn’t even know they existed. But I was taken with the tones and the over-tones and I could literally feel them going through every cell in my body. I could not only hear it with my ears, but I felt it through-out my body. So, I figured that would be an excellent thing for patients who were dealing with serious illnesses.
I started working with the bowls with my patients and the results were phenomenal. People who were dealing with a lot of fear and a lot of worry were able to go into their own inner harmony. That’s something all of us have, but most of us don’t know exists. That’s a harmony deep inside of us that when we learn to live from that and create from that… everything in our life begins to transform. I’ve seen it work with marital problems, job related stress or illness. Everything begins to look completely different. Sound effects us in so many ways. Sound effects us on a physiological level. The scientist in me wanted to understand how people were having such miraculous turnarounds in their whole perspective about life! People who were living in fear every day were suddenly able to really live in the moment. That’s when I started looking into studies on how sound can heal and transform. I found out Gregorian chants or classical music can change our brain waves to alpha and theta waves that are very relaxed.
Sound can change our immune function. After either chanting or listening to certain forms of music, your Interluken-1 level, an index of your immune system, goes up between 12 and a half and 15 percent. Not only that, about 20 minutes after listening to this meditative type music, your immunoglobin levels in your blood are significantly increased. There’s no part of our body not effected. Even our heart rate and blood pressure are lowered with certain forms of music. So, it effects not only our soul and our spirit, but it effects us on literally a cellular and sub-cellular level.
NT: Are the metal singing bowls the ones you usually use?
Gaynor: I also use quartz crystal bowls. These are made out of the same quartz crystals that microchips are made out of. They can be tuned to any note and they’re incredible. When you play them, it brings out all sorts of tones, overtones and harmonics in your own voice. That can also be very healing. I think it’s very important for us to bring back some of the ancient wisdom. When I started looking into sound and healing I found that every culture on earth has used sound, voice and music as part of their healing rituals.
Whether it’s the Sufis and their chants, or the Tibetan Buddhist chants, or the mantras used in yoga or the Gregorian chants sung at Vespers, or prayers from the Jewish Kabbalah… where they believe that every vowel sound is a divine sound… all of these… even the African ritual chants and Native American songs and chants use virtually identical tones and sounds to elicit a deep meditative state. So, it doesn’t require believing in any dogma. These sounds effect us on a physiological, spiritual and emotional level.
NT: What other instruments have traditionally worked well in healing?
Gaynor: Drumming can also be very effective and there’s a resource section in my book on different forms of music. You really have to find what you resonate to. Whenever you’re stressed you have stress hormones that go up in your body called ‘cortizol’ and ‘ACTH’ which mediate a lot of the negative effects of stress on your body.
For instance, it’ll cause your blood pressure to go up and depress your immune system. It’s been found if people are allowed to listen to any music of their choosing during medical procedures it will markedly lower the amount of stress hormones that are being released.
We can look at ourselves as vibration, and so tone and voice and music effects us on every level. It’s important to know you’re exposed to disharmony every day. Cars honking at you in a traffic jam, a jackhammer when you’re walking along the street, or somebody yelling at you. But all these things can be retuned. We need to take time to retune our bodies, like we would a fine instrument. The way to do that is to take 15 or 20 minutes in the morning and another few minutes before you go to sleep at night to focus on your inner harmony.
NT: So you’re saying the disruption of harmony leaves us open to disease?
Gaynor: Absolutely. In fact, disease is a form of disharmony. I think it’s a little naive of the medical profession to think that you can allow people to go on with stress and depression and pessimism and frustration every day of their lives and not believe that eventually it’s going to manifest in some form. But, if you want harmony in your life, harmony in your body and in your world, you have to find your own inner harmony. That exists in each of us, and when you learn to access it your whole life begins to miraculously transform. That’s how all of us were meant to live each day of our lives.
Gaynor Integrative Oncology: www.gaynoroncology.com
Photo of singing bowls credit Baul