I believe that music has the power to heal in many ways – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I do not attend concerts that often, but when I do, it is a special event. I choose the concerts I attend carefully so that I always know there will be music I enjoy, and rarely go to a concert and am disappointed by what was played. I like to surround myself in silence as much as possible before a concert. When I get to my seat, I rid myself of the program and pay no attention to program notes or analysis. I usually know the music to a certain extent and know that the musicians are prepared to communicate something on a higher level, regardless of its name or composer. I am there strictly to hear this communication. I agree with Beethoven, that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. I believe that there are some aspects of human existence that can only be expressed through music.
I try to empty my mind and open it up to what the music has to say to me. I completely allow the music to saturate me and transport me to a higher level. Many times I will bow my head and close my eyes so that I can listen without any distractions. I believe that music has the ability to change my life. I allow it to take over the details of problems I might be having and allow it to bring me to a certain level of peace in my life. Good music is a spiritual tonic for me and I need this tonic on a periodic basis to enrich my life. I like to hear the echo after a piece of music is finished and the silence that follows.
And so the concert ends and the composer and the musicians working together have had another chance to communicate something that could not be said in words. Music will always have that ability to communicate the unspeakable and make you think in a new way. It will always be the universal language.
If we saw what was at the back of all the medicines which are used for healing purposes, if we ask what it is in them that heals, we shall find that it is the different elements which constitute our physical being. The same elements are present in those medicines, and that which is lacking in us is taken from them, or the effect which should be produced in our body is produced by them. The vibration which is necessary for our health is created in the body by their power. The rhythm which is necessary for our cure is brought about by bringing the circulation of the blood into a certain rhythm and speed.
By this we learn that health is a condition of perfect rhythm and tone. Music is rhythm and tone. When the health is out of order, it means the music is out of order. Therefore, when the music is not right in us the help of harmony and rhythm is very necessary to bring us into a state of harmony and rhythm. This way of healing can be studied and understood by studying the music of one's own life, by studying the rhythm of the pulse, the rhythm of the beating of the heart and of the head. Physicians who are sensitive to the rhythm, determine the condition of the patient by examining the rhythm of the pulse, the beating of the heart, the rhythm of the circulation of the blood. And to find the real complaint a physician, with all his material knowledge, must depend upon his intuition and upon the use of his musical qualities.
According to ancient tradition, there are three aspects of music: singing, playing and dancing. All three represent rhythm, and all three represent tone in some form or other. The effect of music is to regulate the rhythm of another person, and to tune a person to the music that is being performed.
The secret of music that attracts all those who listen to it is the rhythm which is being created. It is the tone of that music which tunes a soul and raises it above depression and despair of everyday life in this world. And if one knew what rhythm was needed for a particular individual in his trouble and despair, what tone was needed, and to what pitch that person's soul should be raised, one would then be able to heal him with music.
One might ask why it is, if music is rhythm, that so often musicians are temperamental and easily disturbed. But is it not beautiful to have a little temperament? Life is unmusical when there is no temperament. A person who does not get angry once in a while does not live. It is human to have all kinds of minor faults, the joy is in overcoming these faults. Music is not all sadness. There are higher octaves and lower octaves. Music is all, music takes in all.
In the ancient world music was much used for healing. It was used as healing for the mind, for the character and for the soul, because it is health of the soul that brings health to the physical body. But healing of the physical body does not always help the soul. That is why the material medical science, though it can do good for some time, does not entirely suffice the need of the patient. It is not that outward treatment is useless. There is nothing in this world which is useless. We just need to know how to make use of it. All things in this world are needed, all things have their benefit and use. But if a cure is brought about outwardly, while inwardly the illness remains, sooner or later the illness which is buried in the body will come out and show itself.
Often the cause of illness is within. Although many things are caused outwardly, no single rule will cover everything. As things have changed in the world and materialism has spread throughout the world, this has influenced things, not only in the West but in the East also. The use of music for spiritual attainment and healing of the soul, which was prevalent in ancient times, is not found to the same extent now. Music has been made a pastime, the means of forgetting God instead of realizing God.
Still, the remembrance of the ancient use of music remains and there are still healers who have a particular instrument of healing on which they play. And there are people who go to them for healing. And by playing that instrument they arouse some special feeling which had become cold and that deep feeling which was buried begins to come out. It is really the old way of psychoanalysis. Music helps that patient to express in full the hidden influence which was there. In this way many people are helped without going to a physician.
Even if music were not used as a prescription, particularly intended for a certain illness, the power of that illness, which has its abode in the heart of man, can still be reduced by lifting up his heart, by changing his thought. The existence of illness in the body may be called a shadow of the true illness which is held by man in his mind. By the power of music the mind may become exalted so that it rises above the thought of illness. Then the illness is forgotten.
Singing is the most powerful type of music. The voice is life itself. No doubt it is also life which is working through an instrument by the touch. But in singing it is the direct life, the breath touching the heart of the listener.
When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape. Group singing is the most exhilarating and transformative of all. It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as harmony.
What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes our nerves and elevates your spirits.
The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness. A very recent study even attempts to make the case that “music evolved as a tool of social living,” and that the pleasure that comes from singing together is our evolutionary reward for coming together cooperatively, instead of hiding alone, every cave-dweller for him or herself.
The benefits of singing regularly seem to be cumulative. In one study, singers were found to have lower levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress. A very preliminary investigation suggesting that our heart rates may sync up during group singing could also explain why singing together sometimes feels like a guided group meditation. Study after study has found that singing relieves anxiety and contributes to quality of life. Dr. Julene K. Johnson, a researcher who has focused on older singers, recently began a five year study to examine group singing as an affordable method to improve the health and well-being of older adults.
Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out. It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed.
A person does not hear sound only through the ears; he hears sound through every pore of his body. It permeates the entire being, and according to its particular influence either slows or quickens the rhythm of the blood circulation; it either wakens or soothes the nervous system. It arouses a person to greater passions or it calms him by bringing him peace. According to the sound and its influence a certain effect is produced. Sound becomes visible in the form of radiance. This shows that the same energy which goes into the form of sound before being visible is absorbed by the physical body. In that way the physical body recuperates and becomes charged with new magnetism.