SEN - Don't mind if I didgeridoo
I found my first didgeridoo when I took my British fiancee to meet my family in 2007. It came from the Latje Latje tribe in the Ngarrindjeri region of South Australia, where I come from. Whenever I play it, I am taken on a journey to the mouth of the Murray River, where I often spent time meditating.
This spiritual instrument - made from eucalyptus trees and sacred to the Aborigines, a race of people who have lived in the land we now know as Australia for at least 45,000 years - connects nature and spirit. An Aboriginal elder helped me to grasp the basics, but the more I played, the more I noticed my health improving. The didgeridoo taught me how to breathe deeply and I began to be able to play for long periods of time, during which I would be taken on journeys into the spirit world.
Then, at a backyard barbecue in Britain in the summer of 2009, a friend asked me to play the didgeridoo on her shoulder as it was giving her some pain. She had tried all sorts of other therapies, but nothing had shifted it. She rang me a few days later and told me that she could raise her arm above her shoulder for the first time in months.
So, I started didgeridoo meditation classes and met someone who had a connection with The Phoenix special needs school in Peterborough. Within weeks I had my first session with children with profound and multiple learning difficulties, and was surprised to see that the sounds and vibrations of the instrument had a remarkable effect on them.
They relaxed, the deep thrumming sound seemed to ease their aches and pains, and they seemed more able to learn. Sound therapy and healing using the didgeridoo has possibly been around for thousands of years. I am still met by scepticism from some schools and organisations, but this has not deterred me as generally the therapy has a positive effect on the children. I now work with many different disability groups, including special needs and mainstream schools, and mental health groups.
I am discovering new things all the time about how the didgeridoo can help to heal and to bring states of deep relaxation. What a wonderful instrument it is.
Gregg Chapman has a background in youth work, mental health and the public sector. For details of his didgeridoo therapy sessions, go to www.didgesoundtherapy.co.uk
For more on didgeridoo therapy and its use in schools, go to: www.didgesoundtherapy.co.uk
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