Song of the Week and Spirituality

 Mi Shebeirach – Debbie Friedman

Unfortunately I have not been able to find chords for this song, but I know you can buy the sheet music. So I am going to try to become familiar with it by listening this week.

The Mi Shebeirach is a jewish prayer for physical and spiritual healing.

The prayer in English translation
May the One who blessed our ancestors —
Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah —
bless and heal the one who is ill:
________________ son/daughter of ________________ .
May the Holy Blessed One
overflow with compassion upon him/her,
to restore him/her,
to heal him/her,
to strengthen him/her,
to enliven him/her.
The One will send him/her, speedily,

I chose this song because I want to take the opportunity to talk a little about spirituality and mental health today. Spiritual health is an important part of our holistic well being. It is experienced and expressed on a very subjective basis, which makes it difficult to discuss in a general sort of way.
The UK Mental Health Foundation defines spirituality as:

• a person’s religion or faith 
• meaning and direction in their life, sometimes described as their ‘journey’ 
• a way of understanding the world and their place in the world 
• belief in a higher being or a force greater than any individual 
• a core part of their identity and essential humanity 
• a feeling of belonging or connectedness 
• a quest for wholeness, hope or harmony 
• a sense that there is more to life than material things.

Spiritual care practices can include:
– Meditation
– Prayer and reflection
– Religious ceremonies (personal or community oriented)
– Reading
– Rituals such as burning incense
– Living by a particular set of values
– Wearing particular clothes/Eating particular foods
– Cultural or creative activities, such as art or music
– Spending time in nature
– Physical activity
etc. etc.

Due to the subjective nature, I am writing from my own experience and what I have experienced through others.
I understand spirituality as the culmination of everything going on under the surface. Our thoughts, emotions, hopes, fears, and the way those things effect our decisions through life. It is important to take steps to care for our spirituality, and the methods vary considerably. To some people it means striving to maintain a prayerful relationship with God; to others it means taking time to de-stress, replace bad energy with positive energy. However, many people do not take the time to be aware of their spirituality. Whatever the preferred mode, everyone needs tools to counteract negative, stressful aspects of internal life. This aspect of humanity is difficult to express in a medical chart or residence profile, which is where we can be helpful as music therapists.

Part of our job is to identify our clients’ state of spiritual health, and assist them in individualized ways. The music part can be particularly easy if the client associates with a particular religious denomination. However, it is important to note that if a client says they attend a particular church, that does not necessarily mean it is their preferred mode of spiritual care. Religious orientation should be a reflection of personal beliefs and devotions, but unfortunately it is sometimes merely a reflection of habit or the beliefs and devotions of a person’s family. We, as music therapists, have the great opportunity to identify our clients’ true needs through the therapeutic relationship.

My challenge to you this week is to take some time to consider your own spirituality. What is it that gives you hope and peace? What steps can you take to care for your spiritual needs? If you have the opportunity, take the extra step to try to understand the spiritual needs of your clients, family members, or coworkers. And I would love to hear what tools you use to care for your spiritual needs, or what tools help you identify the needs of your clients.

Since this is such a big subject, and spiritual repertoire is so expansive, we will probably go more in depth in the future. I just wanted to leave you with some brief thoughts on the subject this week.

Take Care,


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