To Improve Your Health To Improve Your Mind
Music has a potent impact on the mind, body and spirit, and it can be used to effect healthful changes. More and more doctors are using music as part of their treatments to help patients stay healthy and recover more quickly from illness.
Heart patients derived the same benefits from listening to 30 minutes of classical music as they did from taking 10 mg of the antianxiety medication Valium... at a Baltimore hospital.
Music and relaxation therapy were used together to lower heart rate and blood pressure in patients with heart disease... at a Dallas hospital.
Migraine sufferers were trained to use music, imagery and relaxation techniques to reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of their headaches... in a California State University study.
Music also has an impact on our intelligence and productivity.
Students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart prior to taking SATs had higher scores than students who weren't exposed to music... at the University of California.
People who listened to light classical music for 90 minutes while editing a manuscript increased accuracy by 21%... in a University of Washington study.
THE MUSIC-MOOD CONNECTION
Music affects the body and the brain in three ways simultaneously...
Music's rhythms affect your heartbeat.
The heart tends to speed up and slow down to match the pace of the music that's playing. Rhythms also alter our brain waves and breathing patterns. Other types of music induce us to move our bodies. In addition to hearing music, we feel the vibrations of music and other sounds on our skin and in our bones. It is the impact of these vibrating sounds on the body that subtly alters our mood and many of our body functions -- particularly blood pressure, pulse and body temperature.
Melodies stay in your head like a second language.
Music with strong, hummable melodies takes on a greater meaning -- and affects your mood just by recalling them.
Researchers have found that whatever an individual's music preferences, music by Mozart -- more than any other composer -- invariably calms the listener's mind and body rhythms, improves spatial perception and promotes better communication of emotions, concepts and thoughts.
Background: The highly organized structure and many rhythms, melodies and high frequencies of Mozart's music stimulate and charge the creative and motivational regions of the brain.
However, you don't have to listen only to Mozart -- or even classical music. Everything from Gregorian chant to New Age, jazz, big band, Latin, dance and rock compositions can produce different benefits.
Harmony affects your emotions,
helping you to release painful or angry feelings or boost happy feelings.
MUSIC THAT CHANGES YOUR MIND
To stimulate the mind:
Choose a composition that will charge you up -- music that is moderately fast with high frequencies. The music will activate your brain, enhance mental alertness and boost your mental organization.
Examples: Mozart's violin concertos, especially Nos. 3 and 4.
To stimulate the body:
Put on your favorite dance or swing music.
Examples: I like the Flashdance... What a Feeling soundtrack and Riverdance, which features Irish dance music. The lively beat demands that you move your body.
To relieve anxiety:
Select music that is slow and has lower tones. It will slow your breathing and your heart rate. Quieting the body releases physical tension and calms the mind.
Examples: Baroque music, such as Pachelbel's Canon & Gigue in D for Three Violins & Continuo... or New Age works by Paul Winter and Kenny G.
To lift the blues:
Listen to slow blues. It was created to help people access and release painful emotions.
Examples: The Lady Sings the Blues soundtrack is a favorite of mine, as is Eric Clapton's From the Cradle.
To boost your imagination:
Tap your unconscious mind by first stimulating your body. Listen to upbeat instrumental music to stimulate the creative, right side of the brain.
Examples: Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony... Dvorak's New World Symphony... and Giant Steps by jazz saxophonist John Coltrane are excellent choices. These compositions have a basic but unpredictable structure that encourages your imagination to run wild.
To help you concentrate:
Classical selections that have a constant, easy beat and light melodies will help pace you to read, focus, memorize and study better.
Examples: Many Baroque compositions by Vivaldi, Bach and Handel are ideal.
To help you relax:
Select slow music, which will calm your heartbeat and breathing rate, lower your blood pressure and release muscle tension.
Examples: The Out of Africa soundtrack... or Sun Singer by Paul Winter.
To relieve anger:
Play a piece that is driven, energetic and intense to help you release your strong emotions.
Example: Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2.
Follow with any of the relaxing pieces of music mentioned earlier.
ADVANCED LISTENING TECHNIQUES
To have a positive effect, you must listen to music -- rather than just hear it as background noise.
When you hear music, you are actually hearing all of the sounds around you. Listening to music, however, refers to the selective process of focusing only on certain sounds in your environment. Helpful...
Choose a quiet room,
and have a pen and paper at hand. Put a mood-appropriate CD in your stereo. Dim the lights, and sit or lie down on a comfortable chair or couch.
Close your eyes -- your sense of hearing is more acute when you can't see -- and listen to one movement. Let your mind wander.
After the movement ends
, write down how the music made your body feel, both as it began and as it progressed. Note if any images entered your mind or if you felt any strong emotions.
Bring up the lights,
and replay the same movement while sitting upright and keeping your eyes fixed on a blank spot on the wall in front of you.
When the music ends,
again write your feelings and perceptions. Compare how the two scenarios changed your experience of the music.