Everything in life is a process. A process of learning. What do we learn? We learn lessons each and every day. Life lessons, life sessions, life directions. Have you ever thought about learning process through music? I have, and I have my own thoughts on this process, of course substantiated by some literature on the subject. Tonight, on my yoga class we had a gong therapy at the end in Shavasana position. I already wrote some interesting facts about gong therapy, and this evening I am thinking about the power of healing with music. Music for healing. Is there a such thing? Music made for healing? Well, music therapy has been used for so many years through history. I will mention some known facts about healing with music while I am listening to some nice smooth jazz.
Music therapy is one of the scientific disciplines of psychiatry, based on using of psycho therapeutic techniques for the purpose of treatment. It is based on a set of methods in which sound, which is produced by music, serves as the basic medium of establishing communication with the patient. Music therapy achieves mental well-being and relieves the patient of mental problems. As psycho therapists would say music has a direct impact on the human mind, mood, character and health. I am not sure really if there is determined therapeutic music in practice, but probably it can be chosen to depend on therapeutic goal of phase of therapy. As the music is communication tool between living beings, its main essence lies in the music therapist-patient relationship, because it has the potential to successfully cause therapeutic change and thus the effects of treatment.
The first forms of music date from the time when verbal communication was not developed and when sounds and melodies were the basic form of communication between people. Later on, music has gone through a developmental path from the simplified vocal expression of primitive man to the construction and application of the first musical instruments. These instruments were used (and still are) for sound products, which man was not able to produce with his own voice. With developing of music its healing power was also developed with the wide possibility of applying music in traditional medicine, starting from pagan customs and rituals, to mass media and concerts. Aulus Cornelius Celsus was a Roman encyclopaedist, known for his extant medical work, De Medicina, which is believed to be the only surviving section of a much larger encyclopedia. He claimed that the sound of cymbals and running water was a good healing method for the treatment of mental disorders. In Greek mythology Aesculapius was the God of medicine and his appearance was shown with a rough-hewn branch representing plants and growth entwined by a single snake. Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world and he claimed that music affects emotions and can affect the character of a human. The other philosopher, Aristotle, taught that music affects the soul and describes music as a force that purifies emotions. Hippocrates used music to treat mental illness. Music therapy is shown in the Bible when David played the harp to rid King Saul of a bad spirit. In Arab world, there were music rooms in hospitals to be used by patients for relaxing. Plato said: Music gives soul to the Universe, wings to the mind, flight of imagination, charm and joy to life around us. Music therapy as a scientific discipline developed in the 20th century.
Research by music therapists shows that music with a pronounced rhythm stimulates brain waves to resonate in the same rhythm. Thus, faster rhythms lead to increased concentration and faster thinking, while a slower rhythm relaxes and calms.
These changes in brain activity under the influence of music make it easier for the brain to change its own activity according to needs even when listening to music is over. You don’t have to have a music education or be a psychotherapist to use the therapeutic potential of music in everyday life – for relaxation, energy compensation for mental exhaustion, catharsis for emotional stress. You certainly have enough of your own experience that music pleases, cheers, calms, irritates or saddens.
According to some research I’ve read about long time ago, blood vessels dilated more than 25% after listening to music people found pleasant. This research was made in healthy population and it showed that music can help with high blood pressure. By listening to your favorite music you are helping your blood vessels to remain elastic and functional. Of course, I don’t think that only music will help you stay healthy, but it certainly will help, because music harmonizes the nervous system. Many surgeons are listening to music while operating, and this is not only good for them, but for the patients that are under anesthesia. There was also research in Sweden I believe that showed that patients who underwent surgery under total anesthesia, and music was played during the operation, had less postoperative pain. Research has shown that the song Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, which hospitalized children listened to, prevented crying.
Singing, playing music, dancing, just listening to it is a process that can help you to heal your body, your brain, your heart. Maybe we aren’t quite aware of that, but we don’t need research which is official to prove that music changes our mood, at the first place. Teach your kids to play an instrument – not to be a musician, but only to play some toy instrument for example, you will help your kid to remove its restlessness, cheers them up and will encourage the brain development. Social empathy is also developing with playing from the young age. As we can all dance and move to the rhythm, we should teach our kids doing it. Don’t think of insomnia after a couple of sleepless nights! Think of calming music at the first place!