Relaxation Music Article

Music for Relaxation, Health, and Wellness

With good reason is music considered a timeless method to unwind. Today, scientific research shows that certain kinds of music possess innate healing qualities. Tune into those magical strains to experience what the ancients knew about the healing power of relaxing music.

Are you anxious about your finances? Stressed out over those looming deadlines? Overtired at the end of a long day? Concerned about the health of a loved one?

Of course you know that it is wiser to deal with your emotions than to let them fester or take them out on your near and dear.

To shed undesirable feelings quickly and inexpensively, increasing numbers of people are turning to relaxing music to unwind. For good reason is music said to be as old as the hills. Ancient civilizations (they must have had their own stressors) tuned in to the strains of instruments when the going got hard.

Long ago, the Celtics revered harpists, putting them on a pedestal second only to the king. They believed the harp had healing properties.

Some postures of yoga, an early Hindu wellness practice, include chanting ‘Aum’ for better health. And during biblical times, it was believed that exposing the body to six Solfeggio frequencies matching the ancient scale of six musical notes, could tune bodily systems and restore the natural harmonic balance.

One practice involves overt music, one involves sound and one involves tuning forks. Yet a common thread binds these therapeutic methods. Correctly used, all of them can set up a healing resonance within the body.

How Sound Affects the Body

To understand this better, think of the human body as an instrument with the capability to absorb sounds. Just as striking one tuning fork can cause another adjacent one to start resonating on the same frequency, the human instrument can pick up the frequency of a musical instrument being played in its hearing range, or of chanting or of a tuning fork.

Modern day research explains this phenomenon. At the core of every human cell is a nucleus, which vibrates in resonance with the dominant stimulus in the environment. Sound — be it music, chanting or emanating from a tuning fork — is a particularly strong external influences, for good reason. The roots of human auditory nerves are more widely distributed and better connected with different body parts than any other nerve in the body. Consequently, we can be affected by sound — positively as well as adversely.

You experience the gross effect of sound on cells and organs. While chanting and tuning forks may not be a part of your life, music with a fast beat can make you want to move faster, maybe even dance. Slow music can relax you, it can slower your breathing rate and heart rate. Scientists call this kicking in the relaxation response.

On a more subtle level, you can experience the effect of different kinds of music on your emotions. Heavy metal or rock music stimulates the mind and can even put you in an aggressive mood. Soft, peaceful music can make you feel in harmony with the world around. It promotes a calm, meditative state.

Sound designers use the power of music to set the tone for different activities and to elicit engagement. The soft ambient music in sit down restaurants and in shopping malls is chosen to put you at ease, and eat/shop more. Soothing spa music creates a tranquil musical retreat for your body, mind and spirit. The dramatic background music playing during a horror flick is meant to send shivers down your spine (try muting the TV and suddenly, the chilling sequence will become far less frightening).

Music is Therapy for Body, Mind and Soul

Numerous studies showing that music and musical elements such as rhythm and melody can rehabilitate function lost through injury or disease have opened doors for doctors to use music too. They call it neurologic music therapy. Some of the more effective healing uses of music are for the rehabilitation of victims of trauma, for psychotherapy, for Alzheimer’s patients and to calm down hyperactive children. Playing music of the right tempo has helped accident victims struggling to walk, to walk fast and even to dance. Playing seemingly long forgotten tunes has spurred recognition in minds otherwise drained of memories, and breathed life into patients who had otherwise withdrawn from normal activity. Studies have shown many benefits from listening to healing music, such as lowering blood pressure, boosting immunity, easing muscle tension, promoting internal secretions, digestion, circulation, respiration, and more.

You too, can use music to get into the kind of mood you want, instead of swaying to the tune of negative external influences. The beauty of music is it has lasting, even permanent effects on brainwave activity. Research shows that music can not only restore well–being in the brain, but this effect continues long after the music has stopped playing. In a sense, music can entrain the brain to stay positive in the face of stressful situations.

Tune into the Healing Sound of Relaxation Music

In the seventies, English musician and sound designer Brian Eno coined the phrase “ambient” in the context of music. Eno defines ambient music as that which is designed to induce calm and space to think. Ambient music can be actively listened to or used as a soothing background. In the nineties, early New Age music composer Steven Halpern described his line of music as one which does not mainly build on the principle of tension and release like most stimulatory music. Instead, it creates a positive, even healing atmosphere. Ambient music, New Age music, relaxation music, healing music, there is abundant choice out there. Are these merely different names for the same kind of music? Or do some compositions work better than the others in promoting relaxation? One study on patients compared rhythmic music with no discernible melody, melodic music with undefined rhythm and something in between. Patients favored the purely melodic offerings over the others. Their actual brain recordings backed their claims —listening to melodious peaceful music was found to decrease the activity of individual neurons in the deep brain, causing some patients’ to close their eyes, others to fall asleep. That said — a lot depends on personal preference. Popular music for relaxation can feature either synthesized electronic compositions or acoustic instruments such as the violin, guitar, flute, harp, and piano.

The work of classical composers dating to the Baroque musical period has been found to be especially useful in eliciting a relaxation response. Bach, Handel, Corelli, Telemann, Brahms, Vivaldi, and Mozart, to name a few such music maestros, seem to have had insights into the special association between the human body and music. Within the realm of classical music, purely instrumental compositions relax the brain more than music with lyrics. Lyrics are a big attention puller; they spur the brain to greater activity.

Contemporary world-acclaimed violinist and composer Daniel Kobialka offers modern interpretations of classical music. Kobialka and another Japan-based composer of Marth Healing Music propound the concept “Music of the Spheres,” instrumental music that acts as a gentle guide to tap into the powerful energy of the eternal source. Their works are known for their harmonic simplicity and melody.

Some relaxation music albums start with compositions that match an “upset” or “angry” state and gradually shift to slower tracks. The variation is designed to hook you first and then lift your mood. Certain composers overlay music with soothing sounds — such as the sound of crashing ocean waves or the chirping of birds, to elicit a relaxed response from the brain. There’s no end to the available options.

Next time you need a calm fix, think beyond pills. Take your pick from the realm of relaxation music. Learn the language of healing sounds, let music touch your soul and bring out the best in you.

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