Indiana State University Newsroom

Healing Rhythms conference to be held Nov. 6-8

October 30, 2009

The study of music, movement and meditation will be explored at Indiana State University Nov. 6-8, and will include the founder of the Center for Mind Body Medicine as a keynote speaker.

The conference, Healing Rhythms: Music, Movement and Meditation, is hosted by ISU's Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality, recognized by the university as a program of regional/state distinction. On Friday, the sessions will be held at University Hall. The conference moves to the Landsbaum Center for Health Education on Saturday and Sunday.

"Over the centuries, the world's great faith traditions have all developed practices designed to calm the mind and body, facilitate contemplation or worship and nurture spiritual development," said Tom Johnson, co-director of the center. "Some practices involve stillness and quiet, while others employ movement, breathing techniques, chants or music. Many of the practices developed in religious contexts have been adapted to secular settings to nurture health in the mind and body."

This conference will explore the role of music, movement and meditation and the impact they have on holistic health and spiritual growth. Movement practices such as Tai Chi, qigong and yoga will be included during the conference, as was will the role of music in contemplative states and spiritual development.

Johnson said conversations along with the development of research projects led the center to put together the conference.

"Given that music is sometimes used to enhance contemplative states and that we are aware of other forms of moving meditation such as labyrinth walking, we thought that a good way to help get our respective projects moving would be to hold a national-level interdisciplinary conference to bring in researchers and practitioners working in these diverse areas," Johnson said.

There will be a variety of keynote and featured speakers discussing insights into medicine, psychology, music, music therapy, sociology and theology.

Dr. James Gordon, founder and director of the Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington D.C., will cap off the first day of the conference Friday night with a discussion on mind-body medicine and personal health. His Friday evening speech is free and open to the public at the University Hall Theater, starting at 7:30 p.m. Gordon also will present a clinical workshop on Sunday titled "Trauma and Transformation."

John Ortiz, director and founder of the Institute of Applied Psychomusicology and The Asperger's Syndrome Institute, will give a keynote address on Saturday morning discussing "Universal Rhythms: Drones, Pulses and Transcultural Entrainment for Meditation, Contemplation and Spiritual Animation."

There will be additional speakers and breakout sessions throughout the conference as well. Other topics include: "Music, Spirituality and the Brain;" "Forms and Functions of Sacred Music;" "Musica Therapeutica - J.S. Bach's Therapeutical Compositions;" and "Rhythms and Meditation: The Role of Repetition in Contemplative Practices."

The conference continues the tradition of the center's earlier conferences on spirituality and addiction, coping with loss and the influence of contemplative practices on compassion and spiritual growth. Johnson noted that "all of our conferences have focused on emerging themes and areas of research that represent the cutting edge of scientific study of religion, spirituality and health,".

The conference is free to faculty, emeritus faculty, staff and full-time students of Indiana State University, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, Ivy Tech Terre Haute, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, and Indiana University School of Medicine in Terre Haute. Students, post docs or medical residents enrolled at other colleges or universities will receive a 50 percent discount off of the standard registration costs. Proof of current enrollment is required.

Public registration for the full conference is $120. One and two day registration is also available to participants with fees of $50 and $90 respectively. The registration fee covers continental breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, lunch each day, dinner on Friday and a light reception on Saturday.

For additional information about the conference and how to register, visit

Contact: Tom Johnson, Indiana State University, founder and director of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality,, 812-237-2449

Writer: Bailee Souder, Indiana State University, media relations intern,, 812-237-3773