A Peaceful Return to Health
By Randy Peyser
Back in the Fall of '89, a twenty-something insurance salesman named Thomas Day Oates Jr., was rapidly working his way toward making a million dollars. Hot on the money trail, the overly-zealous salesman paid little attention to the fact that he was functioning in a constant state of overwhelming stress. Even when the flu hit him hard, he refused to be knocked down. Instead, he pushed himself even more. However, this "flu" didn't quit. At first, only his joints ached, but then his hair began to fall out and his weight dropped. In addition, he was consumed by a crushing feeling of fatigue.
Finding himself in this continual state of exhaustion, the once active young man was shortly reduced to the status of an invalid. For the next four-and-a-half years, Oates, who was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, devoted his days to doing the few things he had enough energy for; thinking about what had happened to him and watching the seasons change outside his bedroom window.
In the process, he grieved the version of his life which his illness had erased. After months of bitter anger, followed by frustration and bouts of depression, he resigned himself to the conclusion that his health might never return. In effect, he surrendered. "I finally started letting go," says Oates. "I let go of my future dreams, of having a family, of having lots of money, or of having any sort of normal life. Also, I let go of the past, those things I regretted or needed to forgive."
Having come to terms with his illness, and with little more to do than watch the light on the trees as Spring turned to Summer, and Summer turned to Fall, Oates eventually began to settle into a place of peace. In every moment he felt present, perfectly calm, and accepting of whatever was. From this place of peace, Oates knew he was going to heal. "I didn't know when and I didn't even care," says Oates. "I was so joyful and happy in this state of peace, it didn't matter anymore whether or not my body got well. I was on Cloud Nine."
Rather than continue to dwell on the person he could no longer be, or what he could no longer do, Oates decided to put his fifteen minutes worth of good energy per day into something he could do. Since he had always enjoyed taking pictures, he began to walk around his back yard, while observing and photographing the beauty he discovered there. In time, his "external world of struggle was replaced with a rich internal world of exploration and learning." As an added benefit, he noticed that the more he focused on this activity which was bringing him such joy, the more his energy also appeared to be returning.
A year-and-a-half later, Oates felt well enough to take a few photography classes in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. With the passage of time, he journeyed to Portland, Oregon, where, awed by the beauty of the rugged coastline of the Northwest, he began to take film classes. No longer driven by the almighty dollar, Oates was now motivated by a new dream - to help people experience the kind of peace he felt. He especially wanted to help those who were lying in hospital beds.
Says Oates, "Anxiety and fear in hospitals is pervasive. Fear blocks healing. You can't heal if you're terrified. The first thing you've got to do is get to a place of peace. And peace can only be found in the present moment." By shooting "the most captivating light and the most beautiful places" along the Oregon-California coast, Oates believed that people could quickly be drawn into the present moment, where peace could be experienced.
Incorporating music from "Inner Voices," a Grammy-nominated CD by R. Carlos Nakai, a master of the Native American cedar flute, Oates created a breathtakingly beautiful video called, "Pacific Light." Says Debi Nunes, a sound healer and researcher in Petaluma, California, "Pacific Light" is an audio-visual odyssey for those who seek inner peace and wellness. Current research establishes that we have strong physical and psychological responses to nature. "Pacific Light" elegantly brings the healing forces of nature right into the comfort of your home."
Others agree with Nunes' assessment. "Pacific Light" recently won an International Health and Medical Media Award known as, "The Freddie Award." Granted by Time Inc. Health, "The Freddie Award is the world's pre-eminent health and medical media competition, attracting the best in documentaries, series, shorts, videos, web sites, and CD-ROMs from all corners of the world." [quote taken from the Time Inc. Health web site] In the making of the video, Oates says he dispensed with the "cheesy voice-overs and subtext which encourage viewers to breathe deeply and relax, but ultimately winds up boring them to death."
Instead, Oates relies on the infinite textures and rich, reflective colors of the ocean itself, as accompanied by Nakai's contemplative music, to transport the viewer to a state of inner peace. "Pacific Light is a powerful visual and sonic entrainment tool," states Nunes. "When we experience entrainment, our major body pulses, such as our respiration and heart rate, speed up or slow down to synchronize with an external pulse. As human beings, we naturally reach out to mimic those pulses which are stronger than our own. For example, when people walk side by side, they soon establish the same gait, or when two people sleep in the same bed, they match breathing patterns. The same is true for the repetitive lull of the ocean. It is a very natural way to experience entrainment."
"Further," says Nunes, "the music in "Pacific Light" also elicits the Relaxation Response and encourages acoustic brainwave entrainment into alpha/theta states of mind. There is evidence that simply getting into a theta state of mind strengthens your immune system." "Through the synergism of the Native American flute, orchestration and stunning coastal cinematography, a poly-sensory, mind-body experience of accelerated self restoration and healing is possible," Nunes concludes.
To this end, the video, which was mainly filmed at sunrise and sunset, has been used for pain relief, to lower blood pressure and heart rates, to calm overwhelming anxiety and panic attacks, to relieve headaches and stress, to end insomnia, to improve immune function and to increase one's overall state of well being.
Currently, the video is helping patients find inner peace in over one-hundred hospitals and health care institutions around the country, including: the Mayo Clinic, the California Pacific Medical Center, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the West Anaheim Medical Center and the University of Washington Medical Center.
In addition, it is used by many others, from those who are afraid of terrorist activities, to stock traders, to meditation centers, to the United States Navy. For information on "Pacific Light" call Sacred Earth Productions, toll free: 877-835-0838, or www.healing-peace.com.
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