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Wayne Bristow

Wayne Bristow

I'm a poz guy, diagnosed HIV+ in 2003. I've been blogging here at PositiveLite.com since March 20th, 2011. I am a self-taught social media junkie doing facebook and twitter. I'm a great retweeter. About four years ago I was asked to take on the position of Social Media Coordinator for PositiveLite. My other online presence is as an administrator for the HIVDisclosureProject.ca

I volunteer at two ASOs (AIDS Service Organization) in my area: ARCH (HIV/AIDS Resources & Community Health) in Guelph Ontario and ACCKWA (AIDS Committee of Cambridge Kitchener Waterloo and Area). I work as a PRA (Peer Research Associate) for the OHTN (Ontario HIV Treatment Network). In my spare time I am a hobby photographer; some of my photos may show up in my blog. 

Now that you've read a bit about me, check out our other great bloggers and follow along. We are THE site that is by and for people living with HIV.If you like write and have something to share, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 

Mar28

Music therapy

Tuesday, 28 March 2017 Written by // Wayne Bristow - Positive Life Categories // Social Media, Alternative Therapies, Aging, Gay Men, Mental Health, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Wayne Bristow

"There is definitely something to this," says Wayne Bristow.

Music therapy

Note to self: “Just when you tell yourself to slow down, you sign up for something more. But I have to hand it to you, this one might be good for you”.

A couple of weeks ago I signed up for a workshop on ‘music therapy’. I had attended a previous session last fall and enjoyed it. I thought it might be a little hokey but it turned out to not be that bad, so I agreed to sign up if they brought it back.

The workshop format started with a check in and introducing ourselves. Sitting in a circle we are asked to envision a large box in the centre and we are asked to reach to grab part of the imaginary flaps on the top of the box and pull it open. Next we are asked to take something from inside ourselves, something that could be bothering us, just pull it out and throw it in the box. (I hope I’m getting this right).

My thing to put in the box was a medication I stopped taking just two days earlier. It’s for my blood pressure but it is the lowest dosage prescribed so I think I can wait until I see my doctor in a month to get a new prescription. The one I was taking made me cough and almost gag. So into the box it went.

Next we go to a table where several musical instruments are laid out and we randomly choose one and return to the circle. There we are asked to get comfortable and close our eyes. Then she instructed us to just play something on the instrument. It didn’t have to make sense, just play anything and listen to it and the other instruments. Soon we are playing a mish mash collection of sounds that became our soundtrack.

"Something just came to mind and I just said it. 'Music is the soundtrack of our lives and we get to find it or create it.'"

We then talked about why we chose the instrument, what we heard, what we were thinking or feeling while we were playing. On this night I had chosen a small metal and bamboo xylophone. When I’ve heard it played it reminds me of the sound of rain on a tin roof or wind chimes, it’s a peaceful sound. I wasn’t thinking of the coughing, I was relaxed so it helped me let go of that worry for a while.

This session was different from the first in that now it was involving some artwork and journaling aspects. We were given a sketchpad so we could create a mantra to reflect our experience with the music. Because what would my music look like?

After the second round of playing an instrument we were asked to write about our experience and we shared our comments. Something just came to mind and I just said it. “Music is the soundtrack of our lives and we get to find it or create it”. I believe I probably heard it somewhere so I’m not attempting to take credit for writing it.

I was able to share how I use music to help me control anger issues. There was a time, close to 20 years now, when I was a very angry person. There were a couple people in my life who, because I allowed them to, would push my buttons and set me off; I would go ballistic. After many years of just letting the anger go it came back quickly in one tweet on Facebook. They say if you want to start a fight, do it on Facebook, it is bound to go viral.

I didn’t take the bait. I chose not to handle it on Facebook. I did drop my guard and I got angry. I actually felt sick about it. I hated myself more for letting that happen than the person who pushed the button. I had exposed some vulnerability and it was taken advantage of.

I see a lot of potential for me in using the techniques I’m learning in music therapy to help me control my emotions. But that doesn’t mean a sad song or movie won’t make me cry. To quote another popular saying: Tears are 1% water and 99% feelings. Damn those feelings above the waist.

In the workshop I was able to share another story where it was suggested to me to think of “classical music” while taking photos. The suggestion came from fellow PositiveLite.com contributor, Michael Yoder who is a brilliant artist and musician himself. My first question was, “how do I do that?” It isn’t easy to describe, it’s a mental exercise, it like other talents, you have it or you don’t.

A couple months later I shared a collection of photos online and he commented that I had done it. So I had to sit back and look at them to see it. I’m not sure I saw everything I was supposed to see but knowing I was thinking musically at the time I had to accept that I did it.

I’ve always been a huge fan of music. I was good in trivia competitions because of my knowledge. Since I’ve been online I don’t listen to music often, maybe if someone shares a song, I’ll listen. I’m a huge fan of The Voice. I should probably turn the tv off more and listen to some tunes – tune out the hustle of everything.

There is definitely something to this music therapy, and it is a lot easier than yoga!

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