Entrainment

Today I finally experienced something that I’d heard about, but never really ‘accomplished.’ I know in harp therapy we don’t have specific goals (or at least try not to) and many times people are affected in ways we can’t see and will never really know about. Today, though, I had one of those experiences that make harp therapy sound really exciting. This is the kind of thing I wait to write about.

Firstly: entrainment – (of a rhythm or something that varies rhythmically) cause (another) gradually to fall into synchronism with it

I played for a patient who was breathing pretty rapidly, and she vocalized her exhalations like “hahahahaha” with five or six iterations at a time. She was also receiving a gentle massage at the time. I played to her breathing, for once getting over feeling awkward about not playing a specific song and just ‘noodling’ for an extended time. After about five minutes she closed her eyes. At about ten minutes, the pace had slowed noticeably – my tempo followed – and she vocalized only twice when exhaling. Then once. For a bit she let out one long groan. By the end, she was exhaling with one long, silent breath and was breathing much more slowly. She seemed to fall asleep – she stayed that way even when we left.

Afterwards, I felt so uplifted, not just because I felt I accomplished something with results that I could actually see, but because it was such a special time. I don’t know much about the patient’s background, but she was clearly more relaxed even if only for those few minutes – and however long after.


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