There are times in life when challenges on our time and resources exceed our ability to satisfy them. This affects our moods and feelings and often we do not realize that we have a choice over what we feel. We know that our thoughts are the wellspring of both. However, there is another way to change our moods and feelings. Music. Music has the power to restore your body, mind, and spirit. It is mystical, spiritual and has extraordinary effects on the brain.
You don’t have to go to music therapy to reap the benefits of music. Author and composer, Elena Mannes, found that “scientists have discovered that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function.” Think about when you hear a particular song or score that takes you back in time or generates a strong emotion. When you feel deprived of time to reflect or need a haven to slip away to, turn on the tunes and rekindle the magic of music.
Music works on the autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system that regulates blood pressure, heartbeat and brain function. When you listen to soothing sounds, there is a physical reaction, your blood pressure drops and your heart rate slows. Music also influences the limbic system, the center that controls emotions. When you play slow rhythmic music, your muscles release tension, you breathe easier and your mind relaxes; a no side effect prescription for creating a sense of calm.
There are a plethora of benefits music provides; scientists found that when people listen to slow musical beats their brain waves mimic that of a person meditating. Using music as a therapy for quieting the mind also works on children. As parents, you may feel exasperated at times by the barrage of stimuli your children endure. Try playing soft soothing tunes to your child when they are doing their homework or are acting out. You may find playing this type of music with your child also helps both of you focus. With the calming effect of music, your mind can zone in on completing a task, without getting frustrated or anxious.
When your energy is depleted and you need a boost or if you are feeling overcome from the doldrums of daily living, try playing music. Music is multifaceted, in that it also has the power to ease depression and to elevate your mood. It increases the release of dopamine in the brain (the feel good hormone) that produces a sense of happiness and well-being. Researchers have found that the genre of music that you listen to does matter. Classical and meditative songs were the most beneficial; heavy metal and techno music can actually make depression worse. Only twenty minutes of listening can uplift your mood and help give you a new, lighter perspective on life.
Cultural music is another way to reconnect with the world around you. Often it matters little that you may not understand the words. The tempo and lure of the emotions behind a song can set you soaring. It stimulates the imagination and contributes to creativity. For children, this can be a wonderful lesson of the universal language of music or a reminder of their own unique heritage.
There are wonderful new ways to discover music now. Pandora, Spotify, even YouTube all offer free listening and you can select a genre that suits your needs. Perhaps this is the day you re-discover your love of music. Play a favorite song and sing along or let go; dance in the living room and revel in music’s beautiful ability to connect us to others and ourselves.