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Mozart, The Bible and Shakespeare -
Their healing effects on the immune system and brain in ME/CFS
Modern science has proved that Mozart and Shakespeare are physical and psychological "therapy". We could say "
Mozart for the spirit, Shakespeare for the heart and The Bible for the soul
" copying Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) who wrote "
Medicine heals the body, music the spirit and theology the soul" (Letters)
Harmonious music has a healing and "immune-boosting effect" in ME/CFS (see sites below)
Classical music, in contrast to negative emotions like anger, despair or fear which are known to suppress the immune system has a beneficial and healing effect. I think this is because ME/CFS causes a kind of mild brain seizure (read Cheney) and the right kind of music calms overactive, sporadic firing of the neurons and balances brain activity. See also
. Recent research also shows that patients recovering from operations heal better listening to music, which points to the effect of music on immune functioning. I have tested the Mozart treatment (see below) in 'flu. It seems to start boosting immunity, within a few minutes. Recent serious medical results on the particular effect of
demonstrate this composer`s marked beneficial effect on immunity. There is serious medical evidence that listening to Mozart balances the brain in seizure (which Dr Cheney believes ME patients tend towards). Great, harmonious and sacred music, like great literature, seems calm the mind and spirit, by calming negative emotions and possibly opening up new neural pathways. Music takes us out of ourselves into worship of God and harmony with Nature. In my experience, sopranos singing Mozart arias work particularly well in ME/CFS (see the book
The Mozart Effect
Early music e.g. early Italian composers (particularly brass ensembles), Vivaldi and Bach put the brain and nervous system into restorative, healing patterns. Listening to music is a drug-free way of relaxing the body and strengthening the immune system, equal in power to taking tranquillisers. One can get the same effect immune-boosting effect from lying a dark room, listening on headphones to 20 minutes of Mozart as you would from taking a Librium or drinking a glass and a half of wine (which is inadvisable in ME/CFS).
There is strong scientific evidence that
has the opposite effect on the immune system. ME/CFS sufferers subjected, against their will, to heavy metal or rock music have become almost suicidal. Listening to whatever gives one most pleasure is probably helpful, whatever it is, but one certainly becomes more aware in ME/CFS that loud, electronic music with an aggressive beat has a negative effect on immunity, while highly gifted singers or instrumentalists playing harmoniously on man-made instruments definitely enhances immune function.
Our advice (see my information on the
page) is to combine lying in a dark room listening to Mozart arias on headphones twice a day, with the breathing exercises.
: If you can afford it, for medical reasons, you could splash out on
Bose Noise Cancelling Earphones
. These remarkable earphones cancel out external noises and focus on the pure sound. They are good for those working in open plan, noisy offices. They also seem to intensify the effects of beautiful music to give a deeper sensation of relaxation, healing and well being.
Particularly healing music in ME/CFS (see also online radio stations below)
Box set of Mozart's Works on CD
or CDs with 100 favourites Mozart pieces from Australia's ABC online shop -
John Rutter's "Requiem"
(written in ME/CFS). Its stately tempo
slowed ME/CFS brain speeds. I listened to it 100+ times as ME therapy. It also happens to be an internationally acclaimed "classic" piece of beautiful, religious music.
"To The God Who Sings" - uplifting Christian music
from ABC Classic FM in Australia. Archived programmes are available but UK listeners can hear it live online at
11am on Sundays, in winter
The Bible and Shakespeare
Reading is almost impossible in severe ME. The brain tires so quickly that the effort of reading more than a page is so draining. But one can still handle sentences and "bite off" paragraphs. In
ME/CFS, I instinctively read, wrote down and even without trying, eventually memorised about 1000 sentences from the Bible. Not only did this give me hope but also offered a whole context (the Biblical worldview) in which illness is
. One also senses that the Bible "matches one's DNA" which feels damaged in ME. Without constantly reading the Bible, I think I would have lost my true character. I know some who seem "diminished" after ME. Sadly, they seem in some way "damaged" in their spirit. The Bible is the antidote. It urges one to love God and others throughout extreme circumstances, which is actually immune boosting and healing. Dr Betty Dowsett, ME expert, told me that to go on reaching out to others in greater need than myself. She said that this makes the adrenal glands function. I see love as aligning oneself fully with a healing Universe, in which what is done for God who is "love" will always triumph over evil.
of ME/CFS recovery, I also constantly read buts of Shakespeare. I felt, instinctively, that the combination of wisdom, poetry, surprising links, tricky sentence structures and unusual thoughts/words were healing my damaged brain. Now, new scientific studies show that reading William Shakespeare is very good for the brain. English Professors and neuroscientists at Liverpool University have conducted brain imaging experiments which demonstrate that the "higher level of thinking" induced by reading Shakespeare
jolt the brain
into much higher levels of electrical activity, which helps healing and re-networking - which is probably beneficial in creating new neural pathways around neural damage in ME (also in strokes and amnesia). Brain cells do not regenerate but neural pathways re-network, if slowly. Reading Shakespeare sparks activity across a wider brain area than any other author, with greater concentration in key verbal areas, which are the ones most affected by ME. Brain stimulation using Shakespeare may, in future, be medically used in the treatment of strokes and in senile dementia. What not in ME/CFS? The reason is that Shakeseare had the "poetic" brain, par excellence. His brain naturally made surprising and unusual connections between objects, not usually noticed as comparable, naturally creating similes and metaphors. His quirky, odd mental connections plus his sense of love and truth (he said, without pride, that there was "no mind as true") networks sets of neurons within us and thus creates healthy, vigorous mental activity. The recent scientific research is set out in a new book,
"Shakespeare Thinking" by Professor Philip Davis (about to be published).
Bored to death
in CFS/ME? Why not try writing your own convincing "Shakespeare Sonnet", without any mental effort?
It really works.
****New International Version of the Bible online****
****The Online Work of William Shakespeare****
Links to online free music channels (you need earphones)
****To The God who Sings*****
- archived programmes from Australia's Classic FM transmitted at 10.30 pm in Australia. UK listeners can access it live online at 11am on Sunday mornings in winter
*Live 365 -
Over 350 online radio stations
for free - including classical and Christian stations.
your favourite music
channel [here you can choose a genre].
- a leading UK classical radio station which can be accessed if you enter a UK postcode (check out "Royal Mail" post codes) from which you can download recordings free. Listen with our ME/CFS friends in
Australia to their favourite Classic FM radio station
BBC Radio Two
(live broadcast and recorded material).
: Relax and enjoy this playlist that features a collection of works that will help you unwind.
Enjoying playing Bach, Handel, Reformation hymns
and joyful modern Christian music for a church service in Switzerland
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