Has a song ever moved you to tears? Has listening to certain music stirred up memories? If you have had any kind of reaction while listening to music, you have experienced the magical effects of music therapy. There are numerous studies that show the power of music due to the difference in tones or rhythmic repetition and the impact they have on your health and well-being.
A person’s brain also gravitates to certain voices, instruments, and lyrics as a way to cope or improve their mood. In addition to being a popular form of entertainment, there are specific healing benefits of listening to music. For example, Chinese culture relates different tones to various parts of the human body. Each tone empowers the energy of a specific area to promote relief and restoration. Additionally, prayer often comes in the form of songs among Christian cultures. The healing nature comes in all forms and traditions, all of which contribute to cognitive performance.
Benefit #1: Boosts the Mood
Everyone has their go-to songs that get them pumped up in order to put them in a better mood. Upbeat music can decrease stress and calm the mind. Music allows us to become in tune with our emotions without having to say or do anything. It triggers areas of the brain that help us to relax. The kind of music necessary for healing is subjective. While some may prefer the light sounds of classical music, others may be uplifted by the driving guitar riffs from their favorite hard rock song.
Benefit #2: Increases Meaningful Connectedness
Research shows that specific lyrics can increase positive thinking, empathy, and other feelings of connection to the world around us. Whole social movements have been driven by the power of music. Live music brings together people from all walks of life to gather for a common purpose or appreciation.
Music has the ability to build community and remain a focal point for situations that call for tunes in everyday life: a mother singing a lullaby to her baby; a crowd participating in an impromptu sing-a-long; a congregation harmonizing together in church. Each of these instances are manifesting human connection all through the healing benefits of listening to music.
Benefit #3: Reduces Anxiety
Several Harvard clinical trials demonstrated that people pre-op who listened to music had less anxiety and a reduced need for sedatives. It can also be a tool to tune out your surroundings when necessary. One of the reasons people wear earbuds in busy cities is to tune out the various noises from car alarms, sirens, people talking, and other environmental stressors that can increase a person’s level of anxiety. Playing music is a positive way to put distance between yourself and the chaos even if you’re in the midst of it.
Benefit #4: Improves Focus
A popularly referenced study talks about the “Mozart effect,” which found that when you listen to music it allows the brain to process information more efficiently. While this study incorporated the use of classical music from Mozart’s piano sonata, specifically, the abstract review of the data showed (any) music's impact on cognitive performance.
If you’ve ever turned on specific music before diving headfirst into a project, you already know that certain music helps with concentration, focus and stress levels. Whether this is your brain firing off signals, the repetition of a particular habit, or both, the bottom line is that focus is improved due to the effects of music.
Benefit #5: Complements Meditation
Meditation often calls for the act of silencing the mind, but some people are distracted by the complete quiet. Soft music therapy used in guided meditation introduces a soothing sense of calm to help you clear your mind. Chanting or the use of Singing Bowls is especially effective because it allows you to focus on one level and tone of sound rather than possibly being distracted by lyrics or change in melody.
Additionally, mantras as developed by the Hindus, have a certain tempo that are used to focus on to clear the mind and remove blockages caused by fear and negativity. While Harnessing The Power Of Om may not technically be considered music, it is a sound that holds the healing properties for pain.
Benefit #6: Triggers Memory
Researchers have also found the rhythmic pulses of music can stabilize communication within the brain and allow for greater memory retrieval. Are there any songs that you associate with significant events in your life? How do they affect your mood? How vivid are the memories? Being triggered by music can also heighten your other senses as well to impact your ability to remember significant moments in your life.
Benefit #7: Treats Mental Health
Music is often used as part of therapy to treat mental health conditions. Since it’s already been proven to aid in reducing anxiety and stress and improving brain activity, it’s a safe and accessible technique for those who suffer from mental health conditions, such as depression and trauma. It works as a medium to process emotions and offers opportunities for discussion and/or reflection, especially when the lyrics are uplifting.
There is no limit to the wonders of what music can do in all its different forms. Whether it's relaxing music, upbeat music, hard rock music, etc., it is subjective and customizable based on what you need for your inner growth and overall peace. Overall, the response to how music is used to motivate, communicate, and tap into areas of unrest prove the healing powers of sound as it pertains to our well-being.