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Healing Music and Sounds

In the Greek myth of Orpheus, we find a powerful testimony to the power of music. Throughout his journey in the underworld, Orpheus played his lyre and sang. His music pacified the dark forces, bringing tears to the eyes of the gods and softening their hearts. Music does stir emotion. It is no wonder that it has been called the language of the soul. Music can soothe, or energize, or enervate, or fan the passions. You've no doubt experienced the emotional effects of music at some point in your life - perhaps at a wedding, a graduation, or a funeral. In every culture, spiritual or religious ritual is accompanied by music, whether it involves the rousing drumbeat of a tribal dance, the mournful strains of a medieval requiem, the awakening call of the cantor, or the joyous chorus of hand-clapping gospel singers.

Music alters the body and the mind. Just as loud, harsh sounds can cause injury to the eardrums and set the nervous system on edge, so, too, music and other sounds, such as the ocean or your own heartbeat, can enhance deep relaxation, supply you with new energy, stimulate creativity, and even transport you into other states of consciousness. When used consciously, music is a form of healing. So, when you are particularly stressed, or feeling sick or in pain (with a backache, arthritis, or a bothersome cold, for instance), try using a little music therapy on yourself. Plants grow better with certain types of music - why shouldn't the same be true for you?

The key to using music for healing is to allow yourself to let go into it. Many people will listen to music critically, identifying the interactions of the various instruments or comparing the selection with other pieces. This is listening with the mind, whereas therapeutic listening is done with the whole body. You literally drop your attention from your head to somewhere lower in your body - you imagine that your heart is listening; you allow your abdomen to be filled with the music; you let the music come in through your hands and feet; you breathe it. You keep letting go into the music, as if the sounds were waves or clouds carrying you away or supporting you.

Depending upon the type of music you choose, this method of listening can be either deeply relaxing or highly energizing. Listening with this degree of openness will alter the frequency of your brain waves, your rate of respiration, and your blood pressure. It can stimulate imagery, evoke memories, release emotions, and dissipate tension.

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