"I always understood that music was important to me; that music transcends all barriers and that it holds a quality that connects with human beings like nothing else. Despite having a wonderfully successful career with the Royal Marines Band Service in music performance, creativity and management, I recently had a very new experience that took me by great surprise.
I had just undergone intensive surgery on my upper spine and was staying in hospital for the initial recovery period. During the first night I was in a good deal of pain and feeling somewhat anxious, nauseous and unable to sleep. I decided I needed music to come to the rescue and donned my headphones whilst trying to decide what to listen to. I have incredibly wide-ranging musical taste and my initial thought was the Adagietto from Mahler 5. Before I pressed play, I had an urge to change my mind, sensing that I was being drawn elsewhere... I thought of the music of my friend Laura ‘Aura’ Westcott and immediately knew that should be the choice.
I listened to 3 of her pieces, one after the other, Somewhere in Time, Dreamland and MetaMorphosis.
The music completely enveloped me and I realised that I was starting to think and feel differently. I was in a meditative but highly aware state; my ears picking up more detail in the music than I had previously encountered, and my mind’s focus was moving from anxiety and the acute pain to the actual problem and the very centre of its energy.
My whole being focussed entirely on the pain, although it didn’t feel so ‘painful' at this point. My focus, my mind, the music, the whole experience, allowed me to accept the pain, to understand it, to explore every element of its being, and to ultimately ease all of the anxiety that I had been feeling such a short time before. I knew the experience I was having was due to Laura’s music and the more I accepted it, the deeper the experience became. Not once did I sleep in that hour, I was in fact super alert.
Aura’s music with composer Chris Marshall changed the connection between my brain and body and I can’t fully understand it or entirely explain it. Moreover, I don’t feel I need to understand it. My lifetime in music and the trust I have in its power are enough for me to fully accept it and embrace what happened to me. All anxiety was gone once the music ended. The pain was different, it wasn’t just pain any longer, it was the experience of my body healing, which my brain processed differently.
I was absolutely at one with my mind and body listening to Aura’s voice and music.
Metamorphosis allowed me to connect with my body and soul in a way that normal medical intervention could not achieve. My anxiety and medical pain was returning rapidly after I stopped listening, so I decided to loop Metamorphosis for the night. I managed to drift, I managed to rest, I managed to sleep and I managed to begin my recovery.
Openness is the only path to reaching the elements of musical performance and communication that do transcend conscious feelings and thoughts. So I have decided to share this experience with my heart on my sleeve to celebrate the power of music, it’s capacity to bring holistic healing in this case, and the wonderful music of Aura. Don’t be afraid, just let it in."