It was July 2001 when my aunt from Poland arrived to help us during the first 3 months after our daughter Aniela’s birth.
We were living in Riverdale, Bronx a fairly bucolic area outside of Manhattan.
When Aunt Vladdy (our nickname for ‘Wladzia’) walked into our apartment she was a throwback from the old country.
A mere wisp of a thing…(weighing in at 90 pounds maximum)…she was dressed in a babushka, a vivid floral headscarf tied around her head, a smock, sensible shoes and piercing blue eyes that could melt an iceberg.
Despite the long flight, her 70 plus years and the thinness of her frame, Aunt Vladdy wasn’t tired at all.
She was ready for action.
Cooking, cleaning, bathing the baby…whatever activity Vladdy could get her hands on, she was happy.
“Lazy hands are the devil’s helper”….she would squeal at me when I would suggest she take a break. She’d wave her hand at me. I was dismissed.
Vladdy was a force of nature….As I would often need naps to keep my energy up after late night feedings with Aniela, Vladdy was a veritable Energizer Bunny bouncing from one activity to another…
Cleaning out the closets, polishing any leather shoes she could find, cooking borsht.
She was a tornado on wheels and I simply could not keep up…Nor could I find enough activities to keep Vladdy content.
So she would often double and triple her activities…Instead of cooking one big meal a day, she’d cook three.
Instead of mopping the floors once, she’d do it multiple times a day.
I swear, during Vladdy’s stay our apartment was so disinfected, it would rival any ER room in town.
What was her secret? How could this lady over twice my age have energy rivaling any Olympian and a constantly happy disposition to boot?…an undisturbed beam of sunshine?
I became fascinated with this question. So I started to study Vladdy.
I started with noticing her diet.
I expected to find her eating a healthy keto diet or sipping green juice throughout the day. But no…
She ate sparingly but her diet was mostly Polish food.
Soups, pierogi, some meat…No vitamins, supplements, protein powders…
It goes without saying that pierogis are clearly not something that you would find in the local health food shop.
No answers there…at least not the ones I thought I would find.
So I moved onto another topic: Sleep.
I expected that she probably would need to sleep for eight plus hours to maintain that high level energy throughout the day.
Here again, I came up empty.
She went to bed around 11pm and was up at the crack of dawn.
What was Vladdy’s secret then?
The answer came to me in a most peculiar way.
I came home after running some errands and called for Vladdy.
I became worried. Vladdy almost never went out on her own, as she was unfamiliar with our neighborhood and felt more comfortable at home.
I kept calling..still no answer.
Finally, I saw her frail body on the other side of the apartment crouched on the floor.
At first I was shocked and feared that she had injured herself.
But my anxiety quickly melted away as I heard some lovely sounds of humming…
Vladdy was waxing the wood floor and humming as she worked.
At that moment, it dawned on me that actually Vladdy hummed all the time. Come to think of it, the apartment was always filled with the sound of her voice humming or singing.
Was that the hidden key to her energy?
No matter how cumbersome the chore was, whether Vladdy was washing the dishes, scrubbing the bathtub or peeling onions, it was always accompanied to the soundtrack of her humming.
Studies show that humming is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.
The best part is that we can ALL do it…No specific musical skill is required. It’s free and only has positive benefits.
Humming is a natural medicine that we generate.
Jonathan Goldman wrote a ground-breaking book on the subject called The Humming Effect. He writes:
“What if you realized that you had the ability to help heal yourself?
What if you understood that you could lower your blood pressure and heart rate, enhance your ability to sleep, and assist hundreds of others conditions simply through the power of your own sound?
What if you discovered how to change your mood and alter your state of consciousness with your own self-created sound?
What if there was the possibility of taking charge of your health and wellness simply through making this most simple and easy sound?
Well you can!”
Here are more claims:
“Humming creates a wonderful circuit of energy in your body re-vitalizing its cells” Deva Premal.
Humming lowers blood pressure as proven by Dr. Kataria. 5 minutes of humming can reduce your blood pressure between 10 – 20 mmHg.
Since I learned about it, I hum whenever I can (especially when doing those hum-drum (pun intended) chores like laundry, washing the dishes and even driving.
It instantly changes my mood and I find that it recharges my energy.
Sometimes, during the afternoon slump, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee I will hum instead…and as crazy as it sounds, humming usually gets the job done.
I invite you to try adding humming to your daily self care practice. You might find its effect surprisingly powerful.
I’d love to hear your experience with it…Please leave a comment below and enjoy this secret elixir from nature’s medicine cabinet.
PS…To learn about more healthy options for the mind, body and spirit that music has to offer, please check out my musical elixirs…Healing and listening are interconnected.