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Is our Conscious and Subconscious Mind playing a part in our healing?

Have you ever wondered how to get over a disease? The power of your subconscious can help. It’s done with reason and principles in the mind, understanding that healing comes from within rather than outside sources like medication or surgeries- requires training but is possible when repeated instructions come directly out of our conscious selves into our brains which will eventually make us healthier happier people!

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“Acoustic Relaxation Therapy” Brings Healthy Genetic Changes, Inflammatory Responses


This relaxation response has a number of beneficial effects on the body, producing beneficial changes to heart rhythm and blood pressure, improving focus, and decreasing pain and anxiety. As a stress countermeasure, inducing a relaxation response may improve the clinical symptoms of a wide variety of stress-related disorders, including high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even aging. Mind-body practices like mindfulness meditation are widely claimed to be protective against stress-related diseases ranging from arthritis to dementia.

Mind-body interventions (MBIs) like meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi not only relax us; according to research by Coventry University and Radboud University, they may reverse molecular reactions in our DNA that contribute to poor health and depression. There is evidence that such mind-body practices inhibit the activity of genes associated with inflammation – in effect, they reverse molecular damage caused by stress. A new study from researchers in Spain, France, and the US found that meditation could decrease the expression of genes involved in the process of inflammation.

The study is the first to show meditation causes gene-expression responses that may boost the immune system, while most previous studies on meditation and health looked at mostly subjective reductions in stress and anxiety. Published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, the study combined high-level expression profiling and systems biology analysis to both pinpoint genes affected by the relaxation-response practice and to identify potential biological significance to these changes. A pilot study was designed to examine whether the relaxation-response-based intervention can improve quality of life for patients with IBS or IBD, and analysed the effects of the intervention on inflammatory markers and gene expression.

A new study examined changes produced in one session of relaxation-response training, as well as changes occurring over longer periods. A new study from researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute of Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) found that induction of a relaxation response–a physiological state of deep relaxation, induced by practices like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and prayer–produced immediate changes in expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism, and insulin secretion. In 2008, Benson and Libermann led a study finding that prolonged practice of the relaxation response changes expression of genes involved in the bodies stress response. In reports published in 2008 and 2013, Herbert Benson, together with Towia Libermann and Manoj Bhasin–both from BIDMCs Centre for Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics, and Systems Biology–described how eliciting the relaxation response in healthy individuals affected gene expression in pathways involved in the body’s stress, inflammation, and energy metabolism.

The genes affected by relaxation produced proteins involved in energy metabolism and in pathways related to inflammation. Many of the genes altered expression are known to contribute to pathways involved with stress responses and inflammation.

Genes controlled by a key protein acting as a switch for on inflammation–called NF-kB–seem to be especially affected. These activities leave behind what we call molecular signatures in our cells, reversing the effects stress or worry might have on the body, changing the way our genes are expressed. The changes observed in gene expression indicate that NF-kB is the focus of targeted molecules both for IBS and for IBD — and its regulation could be contributing to the reversal of harmful effects of stress for both diseases.

Most importantly, the direction of the expression changes in these genes affected by RR-MBI appears to be to counteract the immune inflammation and disruption seen in IBS, and is expected to blunt a dysregulated immune response. In IBD, decreased expression of the response genes to RR-MBI is more strongly associated with the inflammatory responses, cell growth, proliferation, and oxidative stress-related pathways. However, according to this study, individuals undergoing MBI showed an opposing effect — that is, decreased NF-kB and cytokine production, leading to the reversed pattern of pro-inflammatory gene expression, and decreased risk for diseases and conditions associated with inflammation.

While previous work has not shown convincing evidence for beneficial effects of psychological interventions on IBS, our recent genomic work has demonstrated changes in gene expression of the inflammatory pathways in response to an RR-MBI , suggesting the mechanisms by which MBIs may have benefits on IBD. Such findings, although needing to be confirmed by further studies, are provocative and suggest that the genomic changes caused by the practice induced by the RR act as counter regulated genes to those caused by stress and inflammation.

Results indicate differential transcripts in genes involved in metabolism, inflammatory processes, oxidative stress, and DNA damage responses in both chronic and brief practitioners. An interesting case study of two lifelong expert meditators who were able to reach a higher state of consciousness, once again showed differential expression in genes involved in metabolism and regulation of the cell cycle, immunological responses, stress responses, and cell death (Ravnik-Glavac et al., 2012). Differential expression of genes related to Type I interferon responses and inflammation was reported after daily yoga practice among a population of breast cancer survivors (Bower et al., 2014 ).

A new study indicates that individuals who meditated for an eight-week period had remarkable changes in expression of 172 genes regulating inflammation, circadian rhythm, and glucose metabolism. A pilot study found that participation in a nine-week training program including the elicitation of a relaxation response had significant effects on the clinical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – as well as the expression of genes related to inflammation and the bodies stress response. The study provides the basis to understand the effects of meditation and suggests that meditation, as a behavioural intervention, may volunteer–and nonpharmacological–improve the immune response for treating a variety of conditions associated with excess or persistent inflammation, with an altered immune system profile. Regular relaxation, including practices such as yoga, meditation, prayer, and deep breathing, has been shown to activate genes that are protective against disorders including infertility, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and inflammation.\

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Sound Therapy, the Altered States of Consciousness and Improved Health and Wellbeing


Subtle Energy Solution Sound Therapy

A study using a specific method of sound therapy (Himalayan singing bowls, transitioning to Gongs, transitioning to crystal singing bowls, transitioning to therapeutic percussion) was delivered in two ways – by a live soundbath, where subjects lay on the floor and received around 35 minutes of sound, and by a recording of the same which was available online. The focus of this research was to answer the following questions.

  1. Is live sound more or less effective than digitally recorded and delivered sound and across what domains?

  2. What are the consciousness altering effects of this method and to what degree are the domains effected?

  3. What are the therapeutic benefits of sound induced ASC?

Data was analysed by a test known as a Chi Square analysis to gauge significance. Statistically significant, highly significant and extremely significant data was produced in the domains of Physical Relaxation, Imagery, Ineffability, Transcendence of Time and Space, Positive Mood, Insightfulness, Disembodiment and Unity across both live and recorded studies. These findings have far-reaching implications for the use of sound therapy, specifically sound induced altered states of consciousness (ASC) going forward.

Introduction and Context
Over a 20 year period of working with therapeutic sound using techniques developed by myself, many people receiving sound therapy treatments have received benefit from life-limiting health issues such as anxiety dis-orders, chronic pain, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome to name a few. The thousands of case studies undertaken by our students and the team at The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) have highlighted common experiences that individuals receiving treatments and relaxation sessions share. These include seeing colours pulsing behind closed eyes, floaty feelings and feeling deeply relaxed, reduced anxiety and muscle tension, losing a sense of time and/or having spiritual or mystical experiences, to name a few. Some of the above effects indicate that these individuals were entering an altered state of consciousness (ASC). An ASC is a natural everyday occurrence that happens when the brainwaves go into a lower frequency across many areas of the brain, resulting in day-dreamy sensations. These 􏰀screen-saver􏰁 modes that we go into during the day enable the system to rebalance and result in chemical balance and mental refreshment if we allow them to continue for long enough, however because normal everyday life does not give us opportunity to remain in this state for long enough our brain and body do not have enough time to balance.

On looking at previous studies it was shown that different relaxation methods result in different depths of ASC. A study undertaken by Dietrich (2013) showed that the depth of ASC was greater in meditation than hypnosis, p.238. Travis & Shear (2008) conducted a study using EEG which showed three different styles of meditation produced different effects. (Travis & Shear, 2008). Another study, this time focusing on Transcendental Meditation conducted by Wallace, (1970) led him to suggest that meditation induced a fourth state of consciousness that was different from waking, dreaming and non-dreaming sleep. (Wallace, 1970; Banquet, 1973, in Deane & Shapiro p.228-231). There was very little research on sound-induced ASC and nothing which measured the depth at which an ASC is experienced and little that suggested the benefits of sound-induced ASC.

A study by MacLean et al., (2011) in McGlothlin et al., (1967, et al., 2011, p.1453) suggested that altering consciousness may help nurture a positive culture, encourage openness and result in an increased appreciation of music, the arts and nature. This was suggesting that a greater level of wellbeing was noticed in those that had altered their consciousness – they had ‘opened their minds’.

The researchers in the above named research used a questionnaire which gave me the basis upon which I could create an effective way of measuring responses to the sound. I began a study which asked the following questions.

Is live sound more or less effective than digitally recorded and delivered sound and across what domains? What are the consciousness altering effects of this method and to what degree are the domains effected? What are the therapeutic benefits of sound induced ASC.

To first identify whether there was a difference between live and recorded therapeutic sound two studies were undertaken – a live study comprising 15 people who received a soundbath relaxation session lasting approximately 35 minutes (I would have liked to have worked with more people but time was short). The sounds played during the soundbath session were recorded and made available online for 64 participants that volunteered to take part. Participants of the recorded study were asked to listen through headphones.

Information was gathered using a 6 point Likehart scale questionnaire which asked people to score their experience from 1 (not at all) to 6 (extremely – more than at any time). This questionnaire was an amalgamation of several questionnaires used in previous studies to measure ASC (mostly using hallucinogens). The questionnaires were a version of the OAV by Dittrich et al., (1998-2010) adapted from the original by Studerus et al (2010), the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ) Hood, (2003) Revised by MacLean et al (2012) and additional questions relating to health and wellbeing were added by myself. The 65 questions asked were grouped within the following domains. Anxiety, Positive Mood, Experience of Unity, Spiritual Experience, Insightfulness, Disembodiment, Impaired Control and Cognition, Imagery, Ineffability, Transcendence of Time and Space, Emotional Observations and Physical Relaxation.

These findings provide further understanding of the depth at which live therapeutic sound compared to a recording is experienced. On the whole the experience in a live study seemed to be more emotionally moving, with participants being able to put their experience into words and experiencing joy. This may be due to the presence of the instruments and that vibrations can be felt travelling through the body, whereas the recorded sound seemed to create deeper introspection and a deeper ASC. This is rather like comparing being at a live concert to listening to an MP3 recording – the former is more rousing, and the latter more immersive. Both groups seemed to benefit from the relaxing effect of the sound and lost their usual sense of time and space.

Key – BORDER = borderline
NS = not statistically significant
* = statistically significant
** = highly statistically significant
*** = extremely statistically significant

This research could be improved with a larger study, and a more balanced live-online ratio. Some of the questions asked could be refined further, for an example the question ‘physical pain disappeared’ was asked and would only apply if there was physical pain in the first place. Also some participants in the live study commented that they could not relax as much as they wanted to because they were uncomfortable laying on the floor, so this would need to be addressed in future studies.

Future Implications
I see this research as providing a useful platform for our work at The British Academy of Sound Therapy going forward. Altered State Therapy has been used in conventional healthcare setting for mental health conditions as well as drug and alcohol misuse due to the mental relaxation that an ASC creates which enables a softening to be experienced, a loosening of the boundaries and of any control related issues. This loosening was also observed on the physical level with the relaxation of muscles and the draining of physical tension being reported. I see further research being beneficial that explores stress-related imbalances and chronic pain, as well as exploring the enhanced creativity that ASC can bring – I intend to undertake more research into these areas in the near future. It would also be beneficial to test other therapeutic sound techniques, such as those for invigorating and uplifting the system for example.

Banquet (1973), Spectral analysis of the EEG in meditation, Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, v.35, 2, 1973, pp 143–151

Clarke, D (2011) Music, phenomenology, time consciousness: meditations after Husserl. In Clarke, D and Clarke, E. (2011) Music and Consciousness, philosophical, psychological and cultural perspectives. Oxford University Press: Oxford

Dietrich, A (2002) Functional neuroanatomy of altered states of consciousness: The transient hypo- frontality hypothesis. Consciousness and Cognition v.12 (2003) p.231–256

Dietrich, A. (2004), Neurocognative mechanisms underlying the experience of flow, Consciousness and Cognition, V13 (2004) p.746-761

Digman, J. (1990), Personality Structure: Emergence of the five-factor personality model, Annual Review of Psychology, V41(1990) p. 417-440

Dittrich, A. (1998), The Standardized Psychometric Assessment of Altered States of Consciousness (ASCs) in Humans, Pharmacopsychiatry 1998; 31: 80-84

Dobkin de Rois, M. (2003), The role of Music in Healing with Hallucinogens: Tribal and Western Studies, Music Therapy Today Vol IV (3), June 2003

Griffiths, R. Johnson, M. Richards, A. Richards, B. McCann, U and Jesse, R (2011) Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: Psychopharmacology (2011) 218: p. 649–665

Griffiths, R. Richards, W. McCann, U and Jesse, R (2006) Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance, Psychopharmacology (2006) 187:p.268–283

Hubner, C. (2007), EnTrance: Entrance to wider worlds or mystification of mere relaxation? Music Therapy Today: Vol.viii, (2) July 2007, p.257 – 293.

Fischer, R. (1973), A Cartography of the Ecstatic and Meditative States, Leonardo: Vol 6 (1) p. 59-66

Jorg, F. (2007), Researching musc and altered states in therapy and culture, Music Therapy Today, v. (3), 2007. p 306-323.

Klein, B (2010) The 5D-ASC Test for Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness PhD student, General Psychology, Walden University [Cited 12.04.13]

Koen, B. Barz, G, Brummel-Smith, K (2008) Introduction: Confluence of Consciousness in Music, Medicine and Culture. In The Oxford Handbook of Medical Ethnomusicology. p.5 – 17. New York: Oxford University Press.

MacLean, K. Johnson, M. Griffiths, R (2011) Mystical experience occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness. Journal of Psychopharmacology: 25(11), 1453-1461

Shapiro, D. (1980) Meditation: Self Regulation Strategy and Altered State of Consciousness. Andine Publishing Group: New York.

Studerus, E. Gamma, A. Vollenweider, FX (2010) Psychometric Evaluation of the Altered States of Consciousness Rating Scale (OAV). PLoS ONE 5(8):e12412 p.1 – 19

Travis, F. Shear, J. (2008), Focussed attention, open monitoring and autonomic self-transcending: Categories to organise meditation from Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese traditions. Consciousness and Cognition, V19 (2010) p1110 – 1118

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Telomeres and the Immune System

Telomeres and the Immune System

University of California Television (UCTV) Published on 18 May 2018

Telomeres Bruce Lipton

Laminine and Telomeres