The Power of Music: Healing Through Sound

We all love music. It stirs our emotions and provides a doorway into a deeper mode for expression. The power of music is so strong it helps us move past obstacles and complete our goals. There are many people I know who use the power of music to help them finish a run, to get them motivated and “pumped up” so that it will help push them forward to the finish mark. There are also articles, research studies and quotations exploring the power of music and its healing capabilities for the body and mind. Music truly is an amazing language in which the entire world shares.

It should come to no surprise that music has a direct affect on depression, either alleviating it or deepening it. Music we enjoy lifts our spirits, our hopes and our outlook. It places us in a better world, one in which we feel we can better express ourselves, one in which we may better communicate and connect with others. The power of music may also work the opposite way by listening to music which aggravates our system. The music we find bane or saddening may only deepen feelings of despair and lonliness–something we always steer clear from if we are wanting to be truly healthy.

In this case, health just isn’t about the physical fitness of the individual’s body, but the fitness of the emotional body, as well. When working toward a holistic approach of health, we need to shift toward healing the whole self–body, mind and spirit. Music seems to provide this avenue for healing. Many neuroscientists are working on trying to find how music exactly helps open doorways in the brain which help rewire certain networks. Everything must start in the brain, meaning when music opens these doorways, it can rewire the health of a person to a certain point. Some people, however, believe that the power of music is limitless and that there are no boundaries.

A wonderful classical piece I just discovered. So beautiful! I must learn how to play piano.

An abstract from the International Journal of Mental Health and Nursing printed a study on the effects of music exposure and depression symptoms among older adults. The study found a significant drop in depression symptoms, along with drops in anxiety and blood pressure. Another study performed in Taiwan found that those with major depressive symptoms showed a decrease in depression as well after listening to their choice of music for 2 weeks.

Music can also boost your immune system. Listening to upbeat music with a good beat seems to do the trick in relieving harmful stress hormones which decrease the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Researchers from the University of Sussex and the Max Planck Institute in Germany found that the power of music can have significant benefits in improving the quality of health through the long term by reducing the incidence of disease.

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It is a well known fact that exercise improves the quality of life, and that it is a necessary nutrient. Listening to your favorite music can help motivate you and push you into finishing a workout. Usually this type of music for exercise isn’t something slow (as I couldn’t imagine working out to Enya). Workout music usually contains a good, uplifting beat to help get you in a rhythm of providing movement for your body. Some research also shows that the power of music expands to boost brain power of cognitive abilities during exercise, beyond what exercise alone accomplishes.

What music motivates, inspires or lifts your spirits? You can usually find me listening to mellow music, as I suppose that’s the kind of person I usually am. Most of the time it is Enya or classical music. I also have my deep interest in Ska (Madness!), some rock (Steadman, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Format, The Cranberries) and 1920’s music. It really is a bizarre mixture of genres. What about you? How do you feel after listening to your music, and what do you feel during?

Until next time, this is The Healthy Advocate.

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