Soul Mid-Wifery

As this is my first article for Sound Forum I thought I’d tell you a little  bit about my work with the dying  and explain how we use both sound and music, as well as other therapies  to enable people to experience a  tranquil and dignified death.


I am  a Soul Midwife, the founder of the Soul Midwive’s Foundation and  the author of two books- Gentle Dying and  A Safe Journey Home ( both published by Hay House) I also teach and lecture  widely and am constantly exploring and  developing holistic  and spiritual approaches in caring for the dying. As you’ll see  I’m  passionate about de-medicalising our approaches to end of life care ,regarding our final days as a sacred rite of passage for all involved and treating people  at this time of their life with  love and kindness as well as compassion.


You may not have come across Soul Midwive’s yet... but we are a fast growing group of practitioners who support  people through the physical, spiritual  and emotional aspects of transition.We  work  in hospices, care homes and people’s homes and wherever else we are needed.


Our work fits in alongside whatever  medical treatment is in progress. We aim to make the atmosphere around the dying person serene and safe to enable him or her to let go quietly, when he or she feels ready. It’s an ancient and very human way of helping people die rather than any strictly medical one.


          People don’t realise that dying can take a long time and that it can be a very lonely process. All the best treatment and medicine in the world isn’t going to keep some one alive when their time has truly come. Therefore switching the focus from trying to make them better, to making them feel comfortable and safe is a wonderful way of honouring  the end of life.


We   usually start working with a “friend” ( we don’t use the word patient or client) soon after diagnosis ,although at the other end of the scale, we are often called in to help with the last few weeks or days of life  when the doctors have said that there is  nothing else that can be done.


Luckily, our gentle methods,can help to alleviate anxiety, fear and to support the “friend “ and their loved ones. We  are multi-faith  practitioners and work purely with the belief system of the  dying person. Soul Midwives come from many walks of life- our youngest is 30years old and our eldest is 80-  have former teachers, lawyers, social workers, nurses,  shop keepers, grandmothers, even a pop star!


We  view the dying process, as a series of stages, similar to birth. This is helpful because it enables us to roughly diagnose which  stage a person is at and   guides us to the techniques that will be most beneficial. This model has it’s origins in both Chinese, Ayurvedica and Tibetan medicine where it’s been used for centuries.


Massage, certain essential oils, visualisation, herbal and homeopathic remedies, breathing techniques and increasingly sound..and  the voice  are then used in one to one sessions and also during vigiling in someone’s last hours.


 


This is nothing new of course- Sound and it’s capacity to soothe and heal is of course well known and spans human existence-the Shaman’s drum, the tortoise  shell lyre, hollowed out tree trunk chimes  have all assisted the dying on their journey as have all the other methods described.


I believe that we are just beginning  to discover the potential that sound can bring to palliative care . Many of you will be familiar with    Teresa Shroeder -Sheker ‘s Chalice of Repose project which is  used in many hospices across the US.


The idea behind her work is that harp music and especially the affinity that stringed instruments have with the human heart, helps bring a healing dimension to those dying.


Many Soul Midwives including myself often sit at the bedside of a dying person with a harp, lyre or stringed sounding bowl.


In my own medicine bag I carry two other very treasured instruments- singing bowls selected for me many years ago by musician/sound healer Frank Perry.


His work  with percussive instruments had prompted many insights for me  about creating “sound portals”. I sensed that the  column-like   vibrations created by singing bowls could  assist the dying in letting go. He told me  when we eventually met, that one of the sacred roles of the singing bowls... or temple bells..as he called them, was to facilitate  sacred work whether it be to help  enhance fertility, drive away negative energies... or  to help transport the soul to other realms.


He called me about a year after our first meeting to say that two very special bowls had arrived in a large consignment  from India. One  was tuned to the heart chakra... and even more intriguingly, the other was attuned to broken hearts. He had a strong feeling that they were destined to work with me.


These bowls now are my constant companions and teachers and have  facilitated some miraculous transformations , easing people from this life to the next. They  gently  clear blocked energy caused often by years of trapped sadness and grief .By simply vibrating and releasing  a frequency of love and security when they are played during a treatment or a vigiling session they both free the spirit and liberate the soul.


I shall write more about working with singing bowls in future articles as it’s a fascinating subject .


Another instrument that I always have to hand is a  Stannard Chime bar tuned to  the note E which I use to scan the energy field of “friends” when assessing them. Sounding it  at the start of each session from  head to toe with the chime ringing. If there is a dip in the note , it shows an energy blockage which can then be released – often by sounding the chime directly over the blocked area, or by using a singing bowl .

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