Sound healing: The word is emotive.
It makes sense that its etymology comes from the Greek “Art of the Muses,” the goddesses who embodied and inspired art, literature, and knowledge of mankind.
Music was not invented or discovered, but rather something innate in us all. It comes as no surprise then, that for centuries sound healing has been used as therapy to ease and cure many a malady.
We use music for entertainment, expression, celebration, ceremony, leisure, and communication. Whether we are musically inclined or not, it is most likely the one thing that truly connects all humans from all cultures, creeds, and corners of the earth.
We play music at our weddings to celebrate love, and at funerals to say goodbye. We listen when we are bored, and dance to it when we want to have fun. We sing praises and worship our deities with it.
Most importantly, we use music for healing.
Think about every time you have listened to sad songs when you were feeling down, or upbeat songs when you were feeling happy.
Music is therapy.
Healing with sound dates back as far as ancient Greece. Apollo was the god of both music and medicine (a strange, but viable combination). Aesculapius was believed to cure mental disorders with songs. The philosophers Plato and Aristotle both claimed that music affected the soul and the emotions. Hippocrates played music for his patients, too.
In Ancient Egypt, music therapy was a staple in temples.
In biblical times, instruments were used to vanquish evil spirits from human souls.
Native American culture used both song and dance to heal the sick.
Instances of sound healing therapy are limitless.
Fast forward a few centuries, to the 1940s, when the United States Military incorporated music into their programmes for the recuperation of army personnel during World War II. This is often described as the official dawn of music therapy.
Today it is used, or at the very least highly recommended, in all aspects of medicine and spiritual growth. While it is still considered an alternative to modern medicine, scores of evidence suggest that it is effective — and also necessary — to our emotional and psychological health.
Yet, it remains misunderstood.
Some people assume that those who partake in sound healing therapy are crackpots who seek magical solutions to medical problems. However, music therapy, or sound healing, has a basis in both neurology and psychology.
Sound healing is the process in which a practitioner uses all (or specific) aspects of music — including the emotional, psychological, spiritual, physical, social, mental, and superficial — to improve the health of their patient.
Sound healing therapy improves many facets of the patient’s life, including emotional and social development, cognitive and motor functioning, and psychological and psychiatric health.
Healing with sound happens by having the patient experience or partake in music by means of either listening or singing along to it, improvising musical acts, moving to the time of music, meditating to music, chanting, shouting, or humming to music, playing musical instruments, and even subjecting the patient to specifically crafted and produced sounds that are said to induce positive brainwaves and alter our mood.
Almost everything we experience in the universe is simply our perception of waves.
When sound waves reach our ears, they are converted into electrical signals that travel up the auditory nerve into the auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes sound. Once sound waves reach our brains, they trigger responses in our bodies. This process alters our emotions, releases hormones and chemicals that affect both our bodies and our moods, and triggers certain impulses (for example, singing and dancing).
Although research on how music changes our brains is lacking, there is evidence to suggest that musicians have different brains than those who are not musically inclined. Research has shown that the brains of musicians are more symmetrical and that the parts of the brain that are responsible for motor and cognitive functioning, coordination, reasoning, as well as the processing of information, are significantly larger. The two hemispheres of the brain have better communication thanks to an enlarged corpus callosum, as well.
In neurological studies, it has been proven that listening to music makes us more productive and creative; it can relieve stress and, depending on the sort of music, can improve our moods.
This is because listening to music floods our brains with dopamine — the happy chemical. It also releases oxytocin, a natural painkiller and hormone that allows us to bond with and trust people — it is most commonly found in mothers during labor.
Music also helps language development and improves communication.
It has been shown to increase our IQs ever so slightly, so it’s safe to say that music makes us smarter. It improves our memory too, warding off brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Music is powerful. It can change our brains, and so it changes our bodies.
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