Wisdom of the World and its various strategic partners have produced many resources, events, performances, and trainings in alignment with the life-affirming vision it established way back since the release of its breakthrough signature product, Graceful Passages, in 2001. With incredibly limited funds, enormous passion, and a lot of ingenuity in leveraging the passion of our partners who shared our vision about the catalytic power of music and the arts, we’ve managed to produce and release music-infused products and resources that have set new benchmarks for how non-pharmacological music and arts interventions could positively impact the stakeholders engaged in serving a phase of life as complex, challenging, and problematic as the end of life. Yet, since its release in 2001, the global reputation for Graceful Passages enjoys an ever-increasing loyal following, as well as a continued reputation from health professionals for being “the most powerful non-pharmacological audio intervention designed for the alleviation of fear and anxiety for those facing serious illness and all phases of the end of life process.” (Mary Labyak, the founder of the largest hospice in America, Hospice of the Florida SunCoast, who oversaw the controversial Terry Schiavo case between 1990 and 2005.)
What we lack is partners to collaborate on how these kinds of music infused resources could be credibly and effectively integrated within a mainstream healthcare system that truly validates the importance of emotional, spiritual, and psychological states of all stakeholders in the end of life process. Just as a film requires an appropriate film score to elicit the appropriate emotions to tell an impactful story, the end of life process, with all it's cast members, can profoundly benefit from integrating music, overly or subliminally, to produce beneficial outcomes, objectives, and states of consciousness that have higher likelihood of leading to more humane, mindful, and compassionate results for all involved.
In spite of lacking the funds (thus far) to properly brand and market our work to the mainstream markets, we decided to continue to create products and trainings that demonstrated the viability of our mission and ethos. Products and programs that help to restore professional caregivers; guided imagery and environmental products for people with life-threatening illnesses; healing environment audio to inspire greater mindfulness, equanimity and compassion; Resources such as these have been produced and experienced, but have not been properly marketed to those who would most benefit from them. We intend to change that. What we do know is that a world that has a greater than conceptual awareness of the reality of our impermanence is a world that treats itself and others with greater respect, gratitude, humility, kindness, and thoughtfulness. A world filled with uninformed, self centered consumers unaware of life's fragility is an unsustainable world in peril.
We believe that it will be shown that when facing our life’s transitions and challenges- our experiential resources will awaken greater reverence, sensitivity, compassion, and mindfulness – individually and collectively- so that we will help to cultivate a higher emotional and spiritual benchmark to all walks of life. We are convinced that as we do this, we will be capable of co-creating a more peaceful, connected, and thriving world, one heart and one environment at a time.
“Alchemical Wisdom” (The modality utilized in Graceful Passages)
The Transformative Power of Melding Curated Music
with Authentically Delivered Spoken Word
A description of our signature modality and what's behind its effectiveness
Music is an incredibly powerful phenomenon that touches us in profound ways. For more and more people, music has transcended being simply a form of art or entertainment to become much more: a source of spirituality, of religious experience, and of connection to the divine. This approach to music points the way toward a new paradigm of the sacred for the twenty-first century, a universal spiritual language that unites rather than divides. There is a growing movement that is advocating the experience of music as coming from this emerging paradigm of the sacred, exploring the connection between music and spirituality from a variety of perspectives, weaving them together into a larger whole, and providing a glimpse of a new landscape of sound and spirit.
The spoken word, especially when delivered with the kind presence, intimacy and authenticity that has typically been associated with music, can offer a window into our own innate wisdom that is deeply nourishing to the spirit. This embodiment of living presence when expressed with this intention is something we are all infused with, and nourished by.
When experienced together with music, (by the different parts of our brain that process words and music), a powerful phenomenon occurs that can touch us in profound ways. It becomes a kind of alchemy of mind and heart that can offer a subtle yet profound shift in consciousness that defies explanation. For more and more people, this contemplative listening has become a delivery system offering a portal towards the sacred, a connection to the ephemeral.
Listening to musically-infused spoken words (including prayers and poems) can provide a non-linear spiritual transmission that is integrative, instructive, and deeply nourishing, especially for those of us who are moving so fast that we sometimes disconnect from our highest sense of self and life purpose. This Alchemical Wisdom modality has been referred to by experts in the Integrative Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Care, and the Personal Development fields as a new ‘contemplative listening practice’ and supports the ability to truly listen with your heart and spirit rather than only with your mind and your ears. This kind of listening provides a music-filled opportunity to immerse yourself in a new form of contemplative listening, and speaking, helping to cultivate one's emotional, spiritual, and what we refer to as “vibrational intelligence”, as well as to tap into our own innate wisdom, offering the possibility of a deeper, bodily felt connection to that which matters most in our lives.
Alchemical Wisdom – as well as a daily contemplative listening practice - can provide an immersive and aesthetic way to enter into a thoughtful and integrated inquiry into the subject of death and dying, a subject that most of us tend to react to by running in the opposite direction. By directly listening to compassionate spoken wisdom combined with customized music, it becomes a healing, immersive modality that is substantially distinct from other kinds of guided visualization modalities.
When used with intention and awareness, this integrative format can become an evocative way to be touched and nourished at both conscious and subconscious levels. By utilizing state-of-the-art film scoring skill sets, a powerful emotional resonance is created through the words and music to deeply and multi-dimensionally touch the listener, delivering compassionate mentoring messages with quiet, non-threatening persuasiveness that bypasses the normal defense structures most individuals carry with them, for fear of being seen vulnerably. This ‘pattern interrupt’ of the culture’s agreement field to be guarded, protected and armored emotionally is an essential part of being vibrationally intelligent. When there is nothing hidden, when we are open hearted and exposed in our humanity in the presence of another in a safe manner, one can emerges from the experience changed in some inexplicable and remarkable way that is never forgotten.
If the circumstances of a given situation make it particularly, (for example, when one has just received a cancer diagnosis), we recommend introducing deep, honest, profound and gorgeously poignant music only, as the words will be too harsh for someone going through that level of grief while assimilating the possibility of not surviving this newly received diagnosis. . This carefully curated instrumental music must exude a healing quality that pervades the room without any intrusion or resistance so that it can support an experience of truly and inexorably “letting go”, surrendering to the recognition that we are not in control of any outcomes in this life. Our only option is to surrender to the infinity of the present moment, the mysterious place beyond space and time where healing occurs.
Playing deeply relaxing, beautiful music is always a wonderful way to enhance healing, warmth and awareness among people. Expanding our capacity to listen fully and vulnerability - with a bodily felt sense of safe and sacred space while listening - supports relaxation, acceptance, empathy and compassion, while providing a background for meaningful conversation, reflection, assimilation and reverie. (There are many pieces of music of all kinds that can provide this quality, particularly the adagios of Mozart, for example.)
When utilizing the unique power of film score quality music to ‘alchemize” with recorded or spoken words of wisdom, the impact on a listener can be quite profound. In the context of creating an intimate field of ‘safety’ and authenticity, the listener can meditate - through the potent experience of listening - on the profound remembrance, the innate knowledge we all have within us, of our fragility and our mortality. We can think about everything that matters to us in this new context: our relationships with the ones we love, the entanglements we’ve created that have not been resolved, the transgressions we’ve felt hurt by, the hurts we’ve inflicted on others, and ultimately, opportunities for resolutions and discoveries within the inquiry of one’s relationship with anything larger than who we are, and our relationship to that Mystery. Even without a belief in God, one can come to a more lived and authentic peace around one’s relationship with the complex concept of whether who we are at our essence continues on some level, beyond any belief whatsoever in religious beliefs or dogmas. And just like the falling leaves of autumn, one has the opportunity to experience an innate and mysterious knowing that there is something within us that continues, abides beyond form, space, and time. Even just imagining these things becomes a life-generative exploration that feeds us the way the fables of our childhood nourished our active and innocent imaginations, itself a form of deep, loving healing so often appreciated at times of uncertainty.
At the end of the day, we see this listening practice as a cultivation tool for gratitude; gratitude for your life, as it is, no matter what the circumstances. As Brother David Steindl-Rast has said, the physical, emotional, and spiritual healing benefits of living a life with gratitude is well researched and documented. It has been said that if there were only one prayer you ever tried in this life, the expression of gratitude would be enough. And feeling filled with gratitude for being alive for any amount of time is the gift given when we enter the path of learning about Loss Literacy with sincerity, willingness, innocence, and curiosity, tools that in themselves can nourish us into a comfort rarely experienced except by meeting this remarkable passage of life head-on.