A friend of mine recently wrote to tell me that she was once again suffering from insomnia. Of course, this would have a negative effect on your mood and the amount of work (and play) you could endure during the day. She was sad and angry and told me that another day had been “ruined”.
I found myself writing to him to ask if he had ever tried listening to a guided meditation. I had recently done this myself when I felt my mind race too high to make sleep possible. I searched for and discovered a wonderful meditation online, and sitting up in bed that night, I closed my eyes and listened as the soft voice of a man led me to a more serene world. My body and mind calmed down during those 8 minutes of listening. And the dream came quite easily after that.
After answering 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 better and for worse. But how was science measuring it?
The 7 reasons listed below are the result of my preliminary reading.
1. You Must Stay Still – Here’s the easiest benefit. Simply sitting or lying down while listening to quiet music slows it down and reduces muscle tension.
2. Music can have a good effect on your heart: Listening to music that brings you pleasure can improve blood flow and scientists say it can promote vascular health. “Our findings suggest that listening to music may be beneficial for patients with heart disease,” says Joke Bradt, who works at the Center for the Arts and Quality of Life Research at Temple University in Philadelphia.
3. When you are calm, words have great power. If the music is a guided meditation, the words can take you away from your usual worries. Your mind relaxes and you will probably feel fresher and more focused afterward.
4. Quiet music has been shown to slow down brain waves. It is this alpha state (slower brain waves) that leads to more abundant creative energy. “Composers are believed to deliberately confirm and violate listeners’ expectations to communicate emotion and aesthetic meaning,” said Marcus Pearce, a researcher at the University of London.
5. Pain control and headache control: In music therapy, soft music is used to help combat frequent or recurring pain and migraines.
6. Sleep aid: many people turn to silent guided meditations at night when they wake up and cannot go back to sleep.
7. Reduction of anxiety: Stefan Koelsch, principal investigator in neurocognition of music and language at the University of Sussex, states that “physiologically, it is perfectly plausible that music affects not only psychiatric conditions but also endocrine disorders, autonomic and autoimmune “he says. “I can’t say that music is a disease-abolishing pill, but my vision is that we can find things to help us. Many pills have horrible physiological and psychological side effects, but music doesn’t.”
An added benefit – The pure pleasure of feeling those good emotions running through the body.