We often listen to music to feel good. But, do you know, listening to the right kind of music and in a proper way is medicinal, too. How? Let’s explore…
MEDICINAL MUSIC FACT #1
Music can lower the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone)
The number one enemy of man in today’s competitive world is the stress hormone, cortisol. This enemy is known to interfere with our memory, weight, cholesterol and immunity. However, one of the best and free medicinal treatments for lowering the effect of attack of this enemy is to listen to soft music. Music embedded with inspirational lyrics is more effective for this treatment. Prof. Daniel J. Levitin (Professor of psychology and behavioural neuroscience) of McGill University has found through experiments that listening to music impacts our body chemistry directly because it increases immunoglobulin A and killer cell counts, which help in lowering the level of cortisol.
In a study by Miluk et al. (Dept. of Surgery, Military Institute of Aviation Medicine, Warsaw, Poland), they examined on a group of patients the importance of listening to music in reducing stress. The study dealt with measuring the cortisol levels in patients when they were informed that they would undergo a surgery the next day. The patients were divided into two groups. One group of patients heard music immediately after the news, while the other group listened to no music. In the experiment, it was found that the news about surgery produced a 50% increase in cortisol within 15 minutes in both the surgical groups. However, the group that listened to music showed reduction in the cortisol level. On the other hand, the patients who did not listen to music displayed a higher level of cortisol.
For this reason, R&D is being done on the fact that music can potentially be used in clinical settings, in which negative emotions such as pain and anxiety often reduce an individual’s subjective well-being. Such situations otherwise demand the application of anxiolytic, analgesic, and anesthetic drugs as an anti-stress medium.
MEDICINAL MUSIC FACT #2
Enhances blood vessels’ functioning
Music not only lowers the level of cortisol, but also improves the heart’s capacity for exercise by 19 percent– a European Society of Cardiology explored this fact. Further, Deljanin Ilic (professor, Institute of Cardiology at the University of Nis in Serbia) carried out a research to find the attributes that can lead to improvements in endorphins released by the body when listening to music. In the experiment, she was interested to discover if music had any effect not only on the heart but also on the deepest regions of the heart. The inside surface of blood vessels is layered by a substance called endothelium, which has a strong impact on the blood vessel tone besides regulating the blood flow. It also plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease. Ilic conducted a test on a group of people about how the endothelium (the lining of blood vessels) answers to a wide range of stimuli, from exercise to emotions to music as medications. For this, she conducted some test after which each volunteer was exposed to music for 30 minutes. Additional dilation measurements were employed throughout each phase to find changes from the test. It was found that the average upper arm blood vessel diameter increased 26 percent after the joyful music phase; whereas, listening to the music that caused anxiety narrowed blood vessels by six percent. This experiment not only showed the impact of music on the heart, but also highlighted the importance of listening to the right type of music. You can also perform this simple experiment to study the impact of music and its type on the heart beat rate–
Step 1: Play melodious music on your music set.
Step 2: Place your hand on your heart and feel the rate of your heart beat.
Step 3: Now, change the track to rock or some other music that causes anxiety.
Step 4: Place your hand on your heart and feel the rate of your heart beat.
What did you observe? Surely, the latter kind of music must have increased the rate of your heart beat. Such is the impact of music on the heart. Therefore, take care of your heart by making it listen to soft and happy tones of harmony and peace.
MEDICINAL MUSIC FACT #3
Improves sleep quality
Another major problem in this era of cut throat competition is the problem of sleep. Often people complain about the lack of proper sleep. Music-assisted relaxation may improve sleep quality, according to a report published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 2009. The report’s authors analysed five clinical trials (with a total of 170 participants) and found that music impacted the quality of sleep of patients having sleep complaints.
Research reveals that listening to music helps to lengthen sleep duration, shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, reduce the number of night-time wake-ups, and enhance daytime functioning in people with sleep problems. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing (2005) suggests that music has a cumulative effect on sleep, with improvements in sleep quality increasing over time.
OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF MUSIC
Music can also reduce the perceived intensity of pain, especially in geriatric care, intensive care, or palliative medicine. It increases workout endurance, elevates mood, and above all, it induces a meditative state.
Regarding the type of music, His Holiness Ashutosh Maharaj Ji puts forth a beautiful message. He once asked a spiritual aspirant from the music field, “Have you ever noticed how people react when they listen to devotional music versus when they listen to anxiety-driven music?” When the aspirant could not distinguish, the revered Master said, “You will always observe that while listening to spiritual music your head swings in ecstasy to its tone, while in the latter, it is prominently the feet which tap.” What a wonderful message! While the anxiety-driven music feeds our lower tendencies, devotional music nourishes our higher energies.
Well! That’s the case with the outside music. There is yet another music, which excels the benefits and melody of the outside music in all respects. It is the ‘Anhad-Naad’- the music that is being played on its own, relentlessly in our inner world. This music, which can be listened to through Divine Knowledge, brings our soul at peace. Undoubtedly, when the seed is nurtured, it leads the way for the whole fruit to be healthy. And, that’s what happens, when we take care of our health at the level of the soul because, then, the physical and psychological dimensions are also nurtured. Therefore, don’t miss out to fill some moments of your day with the melodies of divine music. Enjoy the ecstasy as well as good health!