We may have different tastes in music, but all of us respond to it. Even infants and very small children respond to music with joy. Music is an expression of the soul: it has an automatic effect on the mind and body. It evokes all sorts of emotions, from energy to melancholy, tenderness to harshness, pride to peace.
It is a force and energy that is being investigated by medical experts all over the world who believe that both its sounds and the vibrations caused by its beats hold a power of good for the human mind and body.
A study of the effects of music on newborn babies showed that stressed babies benefit from hearing three types of music:
1. The sound of a heartbeat, just like the mother’s heartbeat the baby heard in the womb.
2. Fluid sounds that are similar to the sounds the baby heard in the womb.
3. Lullabies in the mother’s voice.
All these sounds calm the baby helping him/her to eat and sleep better. Other studies have shown that music can reduce the anxiety and stress caused by a hospital setting and reduce physical pain among patients in emergency rooms.
Music has a positive effect on the body by reducing cortisol, the hormone that surges when we are stressed. And it causes a definite improvement in the body’s immune response. Music is the audible part of sound, but sound is actually vibrations of energy that travel in waves. These vibrations can be felt, even if the sound can’t be heard. This property of sound is used in a therapy called Vibroacoustics that is used to treat diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Fibromyalgia, which are connected with disturbances of inner body rhythm.
Traditional musical therapy
Music therapy is as old as humankind. All traditional healing systems use music. For example, yoga’s bumble bee breathing technique (brahmari) involves plugging both ears closed with the index fingers and then humming softly. This has been shown to normalise blood pressure.
Tibet’s ‘singing bowls’ are large bowls struck with a padded mallet to produce deep, gentle sounds that have a relaxing effect on the body and lead to deep, high-quality sleep. And all cultures use chanting as part of meditation and relaxation techniques.
From HT Brunch, February 22
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