We’ve all heard tales regarding music having magical healing powers, but if you start perusing around the internet looking for significant studies and data you can easily run into unsubstantiated new age articles written with the kind of tone that imply that music is some all powerful thing that only when applied in the ‘correct, harmonious’ ways can it actually cause healing in the body to increase.
The conversation then begins, “Well, what is healing music?”, “I like to relax to Nine Inch Nails or Skrillex and hate listening to chanting”, etc.
Something that’s important to understand in this conversation is the human nervous system and how it develops in it’s early stages. After only 16 weeks of gestation studies have shown that babies who are sung to while they’re in the womb recognize the same tune when it’s sung to them after they are born.
More importantly, the most consistent form of aural input from the mother is the heart beat, breathing cycle and vocal rhythm or cadence, which are stimulating nervous system development long before the conscious mind is active and higher form of brain functions are forming. When the body is relaxed and stress free, the mother’s heart beat, breath and voice are steady and even. When the mother is stressed, heart rate increases, breathing shallows and vocal chords constrict. How this influences the developing fetus is an obvious connection of direct input via the babies ability to receive acoustic signals from it’s mother’s body rhythms from a very early stage of development.
This concept is akin to why rhythm is an important element of trance, which ultimately is a key to healing. Music therapy works because it allows the body to relax deeply enough that it’s own natural healing potential can kick in. The body is incapable of healing itself when in fight and flight mode, which in this day and age is a constant for many people. Fear of survival, fear of debt, fear of aggression from others, fear of natural cataclysms, fear from being told via marketing that we’re not good enough… it all adds up to keep the nervous system in a constant state of hyper-alertness that blocks the natural healing pathways from being activated.
Rhythm being a core element of all music (even harmony and melody can be expressed as rhythm through vibrations per second, or frequency), can trigger our nervous system to drop back into a pre-natal state where we are tapping into the memory of being nurtured by the heart beat and body rhythms of our mother. Even deeper than that, mystics and modern quantum physicists have both proven that vibration is the most fundamental of existence in our Universe.
So rhythm has the potential to remind us that we are all connected and part of something divine and mysterious. Regularly connecting to this source of limitless-ness potential is ultimately the most healing experience of all.
As I began this article by suggesting that any kind of music can be healing music, as composers we have found certain rhythms and song structures to be very good at helping people to relax into a self-induced healing state. Some music that my dear brother and co-producer Amani Friend and I wrote was composed for people facing terminal illness and other major obstacles in life. The project Amani created that I ended up co-producing a lot on is called Liquid Bloom – Shaman’s Eye has been used by a lot of healers, therapists, yoga teachers to promote deep states of relaxation.
However way you look at it, music is good for the soul. It’s a vehicle to connect with others, to tap into the harmony that exists in the world around you, and ultimately to actualize the self-healing potential that lies within each of us.
Enjoy this free track download, Descending, off the album Still Chillin’ via Gabrielle Roth + the Mirrors.