Music is the balm that soothes my soul. It lifts me up, calms me down, and makes me feel connected to others all at the same time. Talk about power!
As part of my commitment to sharing 9 weeks of Finding Joy in Challenging Times, today I am sharing one of my favorite healing tools – music. Very few remedies are as easy-to-use and inexpensive as our favorite songs.
Let’s dive into the four primary ways that music can help us feel better fast.
#1 – Music Offers Energetic Healing
Music has the power to lift our energy field and Spirit. As an empath, I am especially sensitive to energy and I have noticed that some music literally takes my breath away as I feel my energy rising quickly, particularly around my heart chakra. Oftentimes I will even cry in response to the beauty of a musical piece.
Live music is especially powerful because we are able to experience the collective rise of energy that exists within a crowd. Even remotely, group concerts can be a powerful way to experience the Universal energy field.
I studied sound healing while completing my master’s degree in Integrative Health & Healing and learned that the energetic vibrations of music and sounds impact us deeply. Everything is energy. Our bodies resonate with everything around us, including the powerful energetic waves of music. Certain frequencies even create a peaceful resonance in the body that puts us at ease (i.e. Solfeggio frequencies). These powerful frequencies help meld the mind, body, and spirit.
Music to Calm Anxiety
One of the best examples I have found of this phenomenon is with a magical piece of music called “Musical Rapture.” When I was experiencing panic attacks, listening to this spiritual music always calmed me down. I would also play it for my dad who had Alzheimer’s. Every single time he would say, “This music is nice.” Then he’d promptly drift off to sleep.
#2 – Music Creates Connection
“Oh girl that feeling of safety you prize, well it comes with a hard, hard price. You can’t shut off the risk and pain, without losin’ the love that remains. We’re all riders on this train.”“Human Touch” – Bruce Springsteen
Every time I hear that last line I am overwhelmed with emotion. We ARE all riders on this train of life. So much of our favorite music carries universal truths and supportive messages around our humanity – something that we desperately need right now. Springsteen is a master at creating connection because he sings with passion, honesty, and grit. “I ain’t lookin’ for prayers or pity. I ain’t comin’ round searchin’ for a crutch. I just want someone to talk to, and a little of that human touch, just a little of that human touch.” BRILLIANT!
The most popular and successful musicians create music that helps us feel more seen and understood. When we hear a singer express the very same emotions we are experiencing, it provides a supportive source of validation. It reminds us that we are never alone. There is always someone sharing the very same feeling at that very moment through the energetic connection of a song.
One thing that is so wonderful about music is how accessible it has become. Through Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube, we are able to access and share virtually any song for free. That is truly astounding to an 80s girl like me who grew up holding my Fisher-Price tape recorder up to the radio in order to record my favorite tunes. It is now so easy to make and share playlists, which is something I will never take for granted. I LOVE sharing my own personal playlists with the world. Like my writing, it feels like the most comfortable way for a shy, introvert like me to give a piece of herself to the collective. [Please follow my HappyHealthyHer Spotify page].
Free music is such a tremendous gift! However, artists should always be rewarded for their work, so please be sure to show your support by buying the songs that you enjoy.
#3 – Music Has Deep Meaning
“Squint your eyes and look closer. I’m not between you and your ambition. I am a poster girl with no poster. I am thirty-two flavors and then some. And I’m beyond your peripheral vision. So you might want to turn your head, ’cause someday you’re going to get hungry, and eat most of the words you just…said.”“32 Flavors,” Ani DiFranco
I first heard Ani DiFranco’s music when I was in my early 20s. A young man I had been dating made me a mixtape of “Living In Clip” and I became obsessed – with the music, not the man ;). I think of “32 Flavors” as my personal theme song. It sums up my feelings of not fitting into one particular box. That song makes me feel understood. So much of what Ani sings about actually moves me to my core. Her album, “Canon” was a source of support for me during my divorce. Again, I felt seen and understood, which was what I needed most at that time.
We all need meaning in our lives. Music can give us hope, inspiration, clarity, depth, and so much more. If you feel lost or as though life has lost its shine, please look to music. It can help pull you out of a dark space and allow you to recognize that you are not alone. With music, there is always something to look forward to.
#4 – Music Carries Powerful Memories
I have wanted to talk about the power of music ever since my dad passed in 2014. It is something I have shared on my personal Facebook page, but I don’t think I ever discussed it fully here. Perhaps it was still too raw in my heart? My dad struggled with Alzheimer’s disease from around 2008 until his passing in August 2014. I have lived through a lot of heartache, but that period was by far the most painful.
My mom and I had done a lot of research trying to find answers and support. Mom even got Dad into a research trial, which did seem to help a little. But, the only truly remarkable source of support was music.
According to research, the part of the brain that processes music is the last to be ravaged by the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease [source]. As noted by Music & Memory, a nonprofit that focuses on the healing connection between music and the mind, “Objective evidence from brain imaging shows personally meaningful music is an alternative route for communicating with patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.”
Using this information, I created 4 CDs (2 fast mixes and 2 soothing mixes) of songs that I knew my dad enjoyed. My mom could play them for him depending on how he was feeling. She shared that, similar to how he reacted to hearing “Musical Rapture” (mentioned above), the soothing mixes always calmed him and put him to sleep. She would play them if he seemed agitated. What a gift to have something that gave him temporary relief!
While working in hospice several years later, I saw the magic of music yet again. I was the Communications Manager for a center that cared for individuals at the end of their lives. The center had a wonderful group of volunteers who sang to patients at their bedsides. One afternoon I joined the singers as they made their rounds. I was introduced to a female patient in her early 50s who was unable to communicate due to an aggressive condition that attacked her brain and nervous system.
As the singers belted out, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” I couldn’t hold back my emotions. Neither could the patient. She noticeably lit up right away, swaying and clapping along. As the song ended, clear as day, she said, “That was nice!” I pulled a colleague into the hall to ask if I might have misunderstood the woman’s condition. “Didn’t you say she couldn’t speak?” My colleague affirmed that, yes, that was unfortunately true. I had been taping the entire interaction. I must have watched that video 10 times. That woman did in fact speak that day.
Music communicates on the deepest of levels. It takes us back to our youth, reminds us of happy times, and serves as a constant in a world that often feels chaotic. I hope you will find the joy inherent in this powerful medium.
I know there are many other ways that music helps us to feel better. What do you think? How has music improved your life? Please comment below.
Want some quick musical inspiration? Check out Songs to Increase Your Energy and Joy.
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