What I Learned From Prince About Healing

Prince stepped up. It wasn’t just his musical talent that inspired us. It’s how bold he was, wading into territory that was itchy or awkward or painful. Not just to wallow there but to see what could move and what might be created by going there with us. Without cringing. With humor. And rhythm. Sometimes harmony. And grace.

What’s reverberated most for me since Thursday is what he did in Baltimore a year ago.

We were still reeling after Freddie Gray’s death when Prince decided to stage an impromptu benefit concert here. My kids surprised me with tickets (not easy to come by!) on Mother’s Day.

Of course, he had hundreds of strangers on their feet dancing and singing together. And there was something more. He wove us all together in a massive experience of harmony I’ll never forget. Clearly he was making it up in the moment: He’d improvise a few lines, then pick out a phrase for one group of people in the audience. You, over there, sing this, over there sing that. Then he wove the phrases together, conducting us like an orchestra.

As you may know, I’ve played in orchestras before. And I’ve sung in arenas. This was a whole new level. We were creating harmony, in the moment, that no one knew was possible moments before. Literally, unimagineable. Given the tension levels we came in with – just walking past all the extra security was intense! – the transforation was amazing. I think everyone left the arena that night with more access to their sense of hope and possibility than they brought with them.

That’s healing. A start, at least. I’m grateful to’ve been part of that. And will do my best to continue to presence what I learned from Prince in the world.

Artwork by Brian Bomster-Jabs



Cynthia Zanti Jabs, L.Ac. has practiced acupuncture and Qi Gong for two decades. In addition to practicing at Ruscombe, she also teaches at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, introducing medical students to acupuncture.

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