A friend of mine recently wrote to tell me that she was, once again,
suffering from insomnia. Of course, this would have a bad effect on her mood and
on the amount of work (and play) she could sustain over the day. She was sad and
mad and told me that yet another day had been "ruined."
I found myself writing back to ask her if she had ever tried listening to
a guided meditation. I had done this myself recently when I felt my mind was
racing too fast to make sleep possible. I searched for and discovered a
wonderful meditation online, and sitting on the bed that night, I closed my eyes
and listened while a man's soft voice took me into more serene world. My body
and mind calmed down during those 8 minutes of listening. And sleep came pretty
easily after that.
After responding to my friend, I thought I should read about what the
latest science had to say about the effects of music on the body. Most of us
have experienced strong reactions to music - for good and for bad. But how was
it being measured by science?
The 7 reasons listed below are the result of my preliminary reading.
1. You must stay still - Here is the easiest benefit. The simple act of
sitting or lying down while you listen to quiet music, slows you down, and
reduces muscular tension.
2. Music can have a good effect on your heart - Listening to music that
gives you pleasure can improve blood flow and scientists say that it may promote
vascular health. "Our findings suggest music listening may be beneficial for
heart disease patients," says Joke Bradt, who works at the Arts and Quality of
Life Research Center at Temple University in Philadelphia.
3. When are you quiet, words have great power - If the music is a guided
meditation - the words can take you far away from your usual worries. Your mind
relaxes and you will likely feel fresher and more focussed afterwards.
4. Quiet music has been shown to slow down your brain waves - It is this
Alpha state (slower brain waves) that leads to more abundant creative energy.
"It is thought that composers deliberately confirm and violate listeners'
expectations in order to communicate emotion and aesthetic meaning," said Marcus
Pearce, researcher at University of London.
5. Pain control and headache control - In music therapy, quiet music is
used to help combat frequent or recurring pain and migraine headaches.
6. Sleep Aid - Many people turn to quiet guided meditations at night when
they wake up and cannot return to sleep.
7. Anxiety reduction - Stefan Koelsch, a senior research fellow in
neurocognition of music and language at the University of Sussex, states that
"Physiologically, it's perfectly plausible that music would affect not only
psychiatric conditions but also endocrine, autonomic and autoimmune disorders,"
he says. "I can't say music is a pill to abolish disease, but my vision is that
we can come up with things to help. So many pills have horrible side-effects,
both physiological and psychological, but music has none."
A bonus benefit - The pure pleasure of feeling those good
emotions coursing through the body.
There is a huge body of literature related to this subject. If you would
like to learn about other studies, articles and books that offer an interested
reader much more information about this fascinating subject please go to
Barbara Lewis is a singer, songwriter, teacher & writer who has a
long-standing interest in finding ways to living a healthier, happier life. Some
of her original music explores these themes. Barbara's latest composition, a
serenity-enhancing guided meditation called, "Your Inner Voice" - is available
FREE on her Web site when you subscribe to her newsletter, Keys to Well Being.