The Power of Music

Do you have a favourite song that gets your feet tapping and makes you want to move up out of your seat and dance whenever you hear it? Or perhaps there is a tune that has you crying in your pretzels the moment it is played? Music has the power to bring laughter or tears to us all, no matter what age or stage we are in life. It can evoke all of our emotions and put us in touch with our joy, sadness, grief, fear, love, desires hopes and dreams. Music is used by many people in multiple ways for many things: entertainment, healing, creativity, teaching, sacred ceremonies and meditation to name a few.

How do you use music? What does music mean to you?

Music probably plays more of a role in your life than you realize. Even if you don’t play an instrument, sing or even listen to music, have you ever noticed how much music is used in television programmes you watch, movies you see at the cinema, shops you visit for your groceries and restaurants you eat at with family and friends? Music is used all the time by the media and entertainment industries to help create atmospheres, and in the retail world it is increasingly being used to affect us subliminally and influence our purchases.

My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require. - Edward Elgar

Music is within you, in the very beating of your heart. When you begin to notice rhythms of life you open yourself up to hearing music in every moment, in the silence of the night, in the singing of the birds, in the movements of every living thing. We are constantly creating music as part of an incredible orchestra of life, each playing a part and dancing to the beat of our own drums. When we get caught up in the whirlwind of our day-to-day activities we don’t hear this music. We override the rhythms of our body and stop listening. But we can reconnect with it at any time by simply tapping on the table with our fingers or popping in our headphones and selecting a track on our ipod.

I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality. - H.A. Overstreet

Indulging in our instinctive ability to create music can be hugely therapeutic and help us to get in touch and experience our emotions rather than suppressing them. Music is used in Arts Therapy in this way, to help people connect with and experience their emotions, which can have a very healing effect. Music has been used for healing for thousands of years across the globe, but the world of modern medicine is only just beginning to understand how it works. In a BBC series about the power of music, Jane Hansen gives details of how recent medical research has resulted in the introduction of specially designed music programmes in 8000 US hospitals, which are helping shorten the length of stay for premature babies by up to 12 days. The series also explains how research finding indicate that tailor made music programmes are enabling reductions in drug dosage requirements of patients by up to 50% and alleviating pain of certain unpleasant medical procedures.

I recommend listening to joyful music as part of an overall prescription for maintaining good health. - Dr. Michael Miller

Science is starting to explain how music affects our brainwaves and organs in our body, alters our state of consciousness and creates changes in our neurons and blood carrying cells. Music has been proven to have the power to regulate the heart, boost hormones, relax and deepen our breathing, lower blood pressure, release endorphins and increase blood flow. If certain music is played with a slow, rhythmic beat the heart will actually adapt to the beat of the music, which can be extremely beneficial for people suffering with conditions caused by stress and anxiety.

Some of the greatness of music however, lies in its holistic nature that all the elements form a unique wholeness, which may not be understood by studying the parts separately. However complex, music is readily appreciated by the mind without the need for formal knowledge. - Bombay Jayashri Ramnath

We might not yet understand fully how music actually heals, or even have scratched the surface of its full potential, but perhaps we do not need to know – we just need to trust that it works by some miracle larger than ourselves. By tuning into our body and our emotions we can choose the music our body needs to help it operate optimally. The key is listening to what you like and feel you need. There is no right or wrong, trust what feels right for you – you might fancy a bit of Beethoven one day, Marilyn Manson then next; or want to bang a drum one moment then switch to strumming a harp. Indulge in whatever resonates with how you feel. When we allow ourselves to explore our emotions through music we enrich our lives and enable feelings to flow through us, rather than suppressing them.

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.- Oliver Wendell Holmes

How might you introduce music more in your life?

Here are 6 simple ways to reconnect with music and bring it into your life for positive effect:

  • Wake up to music that makes you feel good – set your alarm to your favourite tune or song, so that you are woken gently by music that eases you into the day, rather than the rude awakening of the traditional alarm.
  • Connect with your uncomfortable emotions – if you’re feeling angry, sad, tired, lonely and find yourself wanting to override the emotion and ignore it – STOP! Play some music that reflects your mood, or find an instrument and experiment with expressing your emotion by making sounds (even if it’s the home made kind, like a pot and spoon). You can even do this with your voice. If you feel shy sing or shout into a pillow. Engage with your feelings. Allow yourself to really feel them, embody them. Flow with whatever comes up for you. What is the emotion trying to tell you? What does it want you to know?

Music’s the medicine of the mind. - John A. Logan

  • Compliment your creativity – we all experience ‘writers block’ in some form or another from time to time; when we struggle to come up with an idea for an activity to do with our kids at the weekend, what to make for dinner, what colour we want to paint the kitchen or how to put together the report we’re writing at work. By playing music that makes us feel inspired and allowing ourselves to be fully present in the moment, we can free up our creativity and connect back in with our inner genius. Et voiles’ before we know it we’ve discovered a great idea, and another, and another….

Music is the wine, which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.- Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Lift your mood with your favourite song – when faced with a chore like the washing up or laundry, or finding yourself putting off writing a report or getting started on a project, pop on your favourite track and allow yourself to fully engage with the music. Stay in the present moment with the music, feel it flow through your body. If possible sing along, dance along and really enjoy it. Before you know it you’ll be ready to get into whatever you’ve been putting off and might even find you have fun doing it!

Music is one of the best ways to enjoy the present. It’s not much fun to look forward to hearing music or to remember what a song sounded like last week, but music right now absorbs you and places you in the moment. -Terri Guillemets

  • Release stress – find some music that helps you relax and keep it handy at work, at home, on your phone or ipod, and in the car. Whenever you feel tension building in your body, notice it and take a moment to listen to what message it has for you. Indulge in your relaxation music and use it to help you let go of stress. Imagine your body melting like butter while the music washes over you and allow it to take all your stress away. This is particularly useful when you are stuck in traffic or find yourself experiencing road rage after a frustrating encounter with another driver.
  • Prepare for success – if you are about to go into an important meeting, pitch an idea to your boss, run a race or face another type of challenge get your mind set for success by playing a motivating track that you associate with success. Boxers do this before big fights to get them in the right frame of mind to take on their opponent. Find a song that gees you up and has you raring to go – you might surprise yourself at what a powerful effect this can have! Good luck!

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