Music has always played an important part in my emotional and mental wellbeing. It has helped me through challenging experiences in life. Music has transported me to a peaceful space when I have most needed it. Music has provided a soundtrack to my most special memories. I have always known and deeply felt that music facilitates healing at a very deep level.
Lately, inspired by concerts at the newly re-opened Nelson Centre of Musical Arts here in the top of the south island of New Zealand, I have been keen to explore HOW music facilitates healing within us. Sitting in the acoustically magnificent 124 year old auditorium, I close my eyes, allowing music to wash over me, feeling how my emotions and the energy centres within my body responds.
As a kid music was always an escape for me. I fell asleep listening to the radio. The songs I listened to formed a soundtrack to my fantasy world that I would escape to in the safety and seclusion of my bedroom.
I have always had difficulty with mindfully connecting with and articulating my feelings. People have always labelled me as secretive because of it. I often feel disconnected from my feelings. I struggle with pinpointing the nature of my true feelings. This is kind of weird as I am quite an emotional person. I am like a bunny caught in the headlights when someone enquires as to what I am really feeling, perhaps because being sensitive I have a tendency to take on the feelings that belong to other people which muddles my own. Music and meditation throughout my life have helped me to acknowledge what feelings belong to me, and enabled me to explore and understand them better.
Music Conjures Memories
Listening to a particular genre takes me straight back in time. It is like going back and visiting an old friend who helped me out in a time of need. Listening to jazz music takes me back to lazy Sundays in London. I used to play it as I cooked meals in my little Golders Green bedsit. These days, I feel relaxed whenever I hear it.
A melody stimulates the part of the brain associated with memory function – the limbic system. Music has been shown to affect some dementia patients so much so that in the UK, some medical facilities have musicians roaming the wards playing for dementia patients (Ford, 2016).
Music “creates and opportunity for patients to reminisce and retrieve memories, which at other times may be lost”. It also provides a pathway for communication through singing, clapping, smiling, and emotional responses. Connection!
With the link between the impact of sound and music on the brain, it is also no surprise that hormone secretion and the autonomic nervous system is also affected. Not only can music take you away momentarily from your troubles and your pain, it can also increase endorphins, transporting you to a place of euphoria. It also stimulates hormone secretions which have the power to comfort and soothe, lower blood pressure, and reduce agitation.
Music Takes You Away On A Mini Mental Holiday
I find that the sound of a fiddle and violin stirs me emotionally. I feel it in my heart swirling around. Couple it with a penny whistle and bodhran and I am transported to another dimension entirely. I feel rested whenever I listen to this music – and joyful! It is another way for me to take a mini holiday from my daily mental merry-go-rounds. There are hospitals within the US and UK where musicians rove around the wards and hallways playing violins and cellos. Music provides respite to patients worried about their circumstances, particularly oncology wards.
In essence, music is vibration and rhythm. Given that we are comprised of 55-75% water, it is no wonder that sound impacts us so deeply. Experiments on how sound vibration affects matter have been conducted since the 1800s. Sand and water have been placed on speakers, and mandalas produced by the vibrations have been recorded and studies. So too have brainwaves been recorded in response to music.
Music Is Energy
Sound, mantras and chanting have long been known to assist and balance us energetically. Certain tones and sounds have been found to open and balance energy centres. Spiritually, music raises your personal vibration and makes it easier for you to connect to the divine. This explains why singing and chanting plays such an important part in temples of worship.
Music plays such a crucial role in our world – it holds more of a key to our health and wellbeing than we really give it credit for. In the past few weeks, I have rediscovered an old friend – an ally in my personal healthcare. Filling my life with music that resonates is becoming more of a keen focus. There is so much more to explore!
What sort of music are you listening to right now?
Ford, S; ‘Trust rolls out music scheme for dementia patients’; Nursing Times, 3 October 2016
Nelson Centre for Musical Arts for their inspiration and contribution to my personal wellbeing at the current time – if you are visiting Nelson (New Zealand) at any time, you really have to place a concert in your itinerary.
Feature Image courtesy PublicDomainArchive via Pixabay
Anne McCormack is a New Zealand-based Photographer, and Spiritual Healing Facilitator and author of Lovitude: Trying To Calm The Monkey Mind and the award winning book, Peacock Dreaming: The Wisdom Of Flowers (recently awarded the B.R.A.G.Medallion).
Peacock Dreaming: The Wisdom Flowers is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and selected bookstores.
Lovitude: Trying To Calm The Monkey Mind is available from Anne at www.thepeacockdreamingblog.com