Music is magnificent. Music as medicine is free of all unpleasant side-effects! It can sooth, relax, enliven, energise and move us to dance. It evokes memories, provides an atmosphere, enhances a celebration, sends a message and facilitates the expression of our emotions. Music can help us journey to other worlds, create imagery, bring people together, and even shift energy blockages.
I often take music for granted but it is something I am actually truly grateful for. Playing instruments was a big part of my childhood and teenage years.
I can remember practising for music exams an hour each day and finding it so calming and meditative. That was before I even knew what meditation was! I am sad I haven’t carried that on into adulthood, although there is still time to get back on that horse, even though it doesn’t feel like it!
There was a time in my 20s when I realised that I wasn’t at ease unless there was some background noise, such as the radio or television. I was aware that this was not healthy to be uncomfortable with silence, so I made a conscious effort to switch everything off and I grew to really love silence. In the years that followed, I was training in sound therapy and was very focused on sound but still did not listen to any music at home anymore. It didn’t hold any interest for me anymore strangely and I seemed to be more attuned to pure frequencies, so would enjoy toning, drumming and playing my singing bowls at home but again was mostly in silence.
Then one day we had to pick a few pieces of music to listen to as homework for the course. We had to lie down with closed eyes and really listen to the tracks with every part of our being. It was a very moving experience and I had profound emotions, sensations and memories arising whilst listening. It reminded me of the power that music holds and I have brought it back into my life again at times when it feels right. However, mostly I have to admit I am still quite hooked on the silence when I am at home. Maybe it is a response to a noisy family life!
As a trained sound therapist I have experienced the power of sound to heal first hand and witnessed my clients having breakthroughs physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. In 2013 Lyz Cooper of BAST (British Academy of Sound Therapy) teamed up with Marconi Union to produce a piece of music. The intention was to make the track as relaxing as possible. The scientific research done on the track afterwards showed that it was the most relaxing piece of music they had found. Amazing! The track was embedded with healing frequencies and rhythms that sound therapists use regularly. It was interesting to me that even played through digital music players, the effects of the sacred sound frequencies still had the power to relax the listener very significantly.
This year Lyz Cooper produced another track with duo Silence & Air to help people enjoy a restful sleep.
I was part of the research study group and I have to say that when I listened to it before bed it definitely helped get to sleep quickly and have a deep restful sleep. The results of the research on this track were also highly significant. You can learn more about the study here and listen to the track for yourself. For more information about ways in which to enjoy restful sleep, have a look at my post on 8 easy ways to get more rest.
Examples of music as medicine:
I have a wonderful friend who has sadly experienced ME/CFS and PTSD amongst other physical imbalances of many years. She decided in the last year to take up her practice of piano playing again after having not played for many years. Therapy, acupuncture and hypnotherapy led her to this point of being able to clear the blocks that were stopping her from playing. Her experience has been that the playing of music has incredibly healing for her.
She has shared that it helped her unlock her heart blockages and release fear and trauma. It helped her express her emotions non-verbally and stimulated her creativity when she was improvising. She also finds the regularity and stability of practising pieces and scales very balancing and comforting. I wonder if she has benefited from the right/left brain balancing that is inherent in playing with both hands as she says that she finds it easier to focus and her brain fog has lessened. She has also built up some strength in her hands and wrists which previously caused her a lot of pain. It has brought her a purpose for living again when confined to indoors with ME so much of the time. Of course, the music that arises also brings her joy, as it did me when I heard her playing her beautiful pieces.
“Sound is the force of creation, the true whole. Music then, becomes the voice of the great cosmic oneness and therefore the optimal way to reach this final state of healing.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927)
I know of another young man who used his music to survive his schizophrenia. It helped him push the voices away and soothed his troubled mind at a time when his medication was not working well. For him, music was essential to help him navigate his illness.
My husband Anthony has always played the guitar and spent many happy years busking on his travels. Since we have been together I have always noticed that when he is feeling down, he will pick up his guitar and play and sing and it soothes and uplifts him. I think that the guitar is especially healing in this way as the vibrations emanate directly from the body of the guitar which is resting on the player’s abdomen.
My vision of music as medicine in the future:
The future of medicine could be the application of sound frequencies to clear blockages and restore healthy energy. Imagine a device installed in your home that would scan your bodies energy and then emit the frequencies you needed to rebalance yourself embedded in a piece of relaxing music that would be played throughout your home. How cool would that be?!
“Eventually, musical therapists will compose prescriptions after the manner of a pharmacist…”
Dr. Ira Altschuler (of the Eloise State Hospital) (1942)