Music as Medicine
"There are two aspects of life: the first is that man is tuned by his surroundings and the second is that man can tune himself in spite of his surroundings." Hazrat Inayat Khan
Music has been an integral part of my life since I was a child when I first began to sense and understand the healing that the sound and vibration of music can bring. Initially, music was a place to lose myself during a difficult upbringing; later, it became a healthy refuge from pain among other, unhealthy refuges. Today, it is not only a tool with which I heal myself, but a tool which I use to opening a place to allow others to heal.
My path as a musical healer began simply enough, with the musical opportunities offered at most schools: band, chorus, and performances in musicals. That path took a dark turn after graduation, as I turned from music to other forms of escape, including drugs and alcohol, leaving a wake of emotional trauma and abusive relationships. Music was, however, instrumental in my recovery, which led me to becoming more attuned energetically as a Reiki Practitioner in 2013. I found that the movement of energy I studied in Reiki was affected by music, but didn’t yet fully understand the relationship between the two.
I attended massage school in 2015, where I became aware of the power of touch and gained a deeper knowledge of healing, and I began to contemplate where pain and illness begin, and how to heal them on a deeper physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Music and sound were to become crucial elements in answering that question.
I began delving into Sacred Sound Ceremonies where I shed the layers of pain I had endured, released the energetic and physical ailments that my trauma had created, layer by layer.
Music became my medicine.
"The world is Sound. To those who listen, everything is singing." Jayananda
What is Sound Healing?
Sound Healing is the intentional use of sound to create an environment which becomes a catalyst for healing in the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual aspects of our being. Sound is everything. Although we may not perceive everything as sound if it is vibrating, it has a sound. Every organ, tissue, and cell has a vibration. When in harmony this manifests and creates the most wonderful symphony imaginable, the human body. Our body and our minds in a relaxed harmonious state are constantly vibrating, allowing us to be attuned with the basic electromagnetic field of the Earth itself. Sound itself has an inherent transformative power and is attuned to the creative matrix of the universe. By coupling sound, or music, with pure intention, to attune to, invoke, or transform one's consciousness, we indeed have stepped into a powerful place.
Scientific studies show us that sound has the capacity to create change in the autonomic, immune, endocrine, and neuropeptide systems. Both sound and music assist in allowing the body-mind to come into deep relaxation where the bodies inherent capacity for self healing can occur.
History of Sound Healing
Many cultures believe that sound is the origin of the Universe. Healing with sound dates back as far as Ancient Greece. Apollo was the god of music and medicine. Aesculapius cured mental disorders with songs. The philosophers Plato and Aristotle 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 uses song and dance to heal the sick.
Deep in the jungles of South America nestled in the thicket of the Amazon jungles there are pockets of Shamanic families and indigenous tribes who have lineages of plant medicine healers and wisdom passed down orally for generations. These Shamanic healers often use sacred songs for hours during ceremony to guide spirits of the jungle and to protect all who are in the circle. Not only do these songs called Icaros offer a soothing space for mental refuge, but they can also evoke powerful emotions, awaken and release old childhood traumas, and can act as a parachute for the mind to slowly and safely return to its home, the body.
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 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 necessary — to our emotional and psychological health.
Effects of sound healing
Entrainment is a method of synchronizing our brainwaves by producing a stable, solid frequency that our brains adjust to and then match. Healing with sound can improve or cure many ailments including:
It can also bring about:
Clarity and balance
Improved memory and concentration
A stronger immune system
Heightened awareness, both of the self and the environment
Whatever one's beliefs, we all know the power of the spoken word, of music, of chants and sung melodies, can move us into ecstatic states of rapture or deep states of despair. There is an inherent potency to the very nature of the sound itself, and its emotional content, which can be amplified or enhanced by the spoken or sung verse. While so much music in western culture has moved more into the secular arenas of entertainment, music in many cultures has historically held a deeply sacred space in the hearts and minds of their peoples, used as a catalyst to deeper insight, wisdom, transformation, or growth.