The Stress Relieving Power of Music
The soothing qualities of music make it an ideal tool for stress relief. Music can help to improve energy flow and balance fraught emotions.
From the moment life begins, it plays out to a back-drop of music – the steady, rhythmic beat of a mother’s heart and the gentle rush of blood through her veins. A 17th century poet said that “music has charms to sooth a savage beast”. However the history of music as a therapeutic medium can be traced far further back, and its power to heal extends beyond the ‘savage beast’.
Developing the Theory
Our relationship with music can be traced back to the Neanderthals, who made simple flutes, but it appears to have been the ancient Greeks who first made a connection between music and healing, declaring that “music is an art imbued with power to penetrate into the very depths of the soul”. Formal use of music as therapy began when it was discovered to have a positive effect on injured soldiers returning from WW 2, and it now helps to treat many conditions, from anxiety to autism.
Music has long been recognised to have healing qualities now widely used as a complementary medicine.
Music Around the World
The sounds may differ and the instruments be unfamiliar, but music of all sorts has been used through the ages to heal and rebalance. In Tibet, it is made by bells, chimes and singing bowls, in Bali by the gong and the drum. Common to almost every major culture is chanting, to harmonise body and soul using the vibrations of sound.
The insistent beat of the drum is used worldwide – in West Africa, dance is combined with drumming to correct the irregular rhythm believed to block energy flow.
Using sound to alter the body’s energy field is also the principle behind the aboriginal didgeridoo, a unique instrument whose sound induces a trance-like state in listeners.
How Music Relieves Stress
Music has many claming and stress-relieving effects. It can help you to release your emotions and harmonise body and soul.
How Music Affects the Body
One theory about how music works to heal the body is that, because music is processed only by the right side of the brain, it helps to suppress the left side, where anxiety and disease reside. It is also believed that music stimulates the brain to produce serotonin, without which we often feel low, and melatonin, which help us sleep.
Linked to this is stress reduction. Stress is believed to be a factor in the majority of diseases, and it has been discovered that music has a part to play in stress reduction, too – biofeedback researchers have found that drumming in time to our own heartbeat for just 15 minutes can make a significant difference to stress levels.
These positive effects are now used increasingly to help with pain management and stress-related conditions, for example in childbirth, and to improve post-operative recovery times.
Music for Emotional Healing
Because it is non verbal, music is a highly effective way to release feelings. A trained music therapist is able to interpret sounds, using them as the opening dialogue that allows suppressed emotions to emerge.
Music allows us to experience our most powerful emotions, helping us deal with feelings such as grief and anger. In times of extreme healing crisis, we often suppress our real feelings because they are too raw to handle, but an appropriate piece of music can release them and help us work through them.
Feeling the Beat
The beat of the music can change its effects on your mind and body. Music with 80-90 beats per minute will increase tension and help the release of anger, while between 40-60 beats per minute has the opposite effect, so can free you to experience your sadness.
Music for the Spirit
The ancient Greeks believed that music could harmonise the body and soul, a belief that continues to be held by many of today’s complementary therapists aiming to redress the balance and restore ease to a diseased mind and body. Nothing conveys and alters mood more potently than a piece of music. A relaxed atmosphere, for example, can be created for treatments such as massage and aromatherapy, to which it is integral. The wide range of ‘chill-out’ music now available confirms how much we have all come to recognise the part music has to play in our emotional and spiritual lives as we deal with the stresses of 21st century life.
Choosing your Music
Whether you are playing music to heal your mind, body or spirit, there is no one genre of music that can guarantee these unique healing qualities. It is important to discover what works best for you, as your own tastes will influence your choice. To do this, pay attention to your body as you listen to the music, and notice how your body and soul respond to the different types.
The genre of music that will help to bring harmony to your mind and body differs from person to person according to taste. Be sure to choose the perfect music for you.