Music to heal
By Dr. Isaac Lausell
Can music help us heal? I recently had a conversation about this with some friends. Their stories confirmed what I’ve known to be truth and what I have found trough research. Music can be a powerful device that can aid the process of healing. One of the fields on the vanguard of modern medicine is music therapy. One of the earliest examples we have in history of music therapy is when king Saul, the first Hebrew king brings David the son of Jesse to play for him. According to prophet Samuel in I Samuel 16:14 the King was being tormented by an evil spirit. Lets read:
14But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented and troubled him.
15Saul's servants said to him, Behold, an evil spirit from God torments you.
16Let our lord now command your servants here before you to find a man who plays skillfully on the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.
17Saul told his servants, Find me a man who plays well and bring him to me.
18One of the young men said, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who plays skillfully, a valiant man, a man of war, prudent in speech and eloquent, an attractive person; and the Lord is with him.
Further ahead the prophet documents in his accounts:
23And when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took a lyre and played it; so Saul was refreshed and became well, and the evil spirit left him.
Whether you believe than actual spirit tormented Saul or that the prophet’s words describe an emotional or mental ailment it does not change the fact that Saul felt relief when David played for him. Even the musician is medically benefited from playing. Music is the only activity with the capacity to incorporate both the cognitive and affective sides of the brain into one single activity. Children can benefit greatly from learning to play a musical instrument. It has been demonstrated that playing a musical instrument enhances their learning capacities for math, language, abstract concepts and even raise their IQ level.
People who listen to music are also affected by it. Observe how gyms choose high-energy music for cardio-oriented classes and how many bodybuilders listen to Hard Rock and Metal when they train. Music helps athletes to get in a state of mind that is appropriate for the task at hand.
Lets examine as well how the experience of going to the movies is enhanced by a good sound track. Without the persistent minor second musical theme heard in the movie “Jaws” all we got is a fake shark fin going by. We all remember the “Rocky” saga of movies. The scene in which Rocky is training for his match is exciting because of the “Gonna Fly Now” musical theme. Otherwise all you got in front of you is a very dull and grueling process. Think about it, many are not that excited about going to the gym. Their sole motivation to go is often looking good for a high school reunion, a wedding, or that summer vacations are just around the corner. Oddly enough we see Rocky running around Philadelphia, pushing himself to the limit and we get all hipped up and some of us even feel like hitting the gym. It is the music that enhances the experience and affects how we are perceiving things.
Everything we do starts in the brain. From the brain we coordinate conscious and unconscious activities. For those of you into computers think of our brain as our Central Processing Unit. It only makes sense that if music affects our neurological activity, our emotions and our very own thoughts it should have an aftermath in the other activities linked or governed by these higher functions.
A few nights ago I was in a gathering with some friends and I met this elderly woman who told me about the joy her late husband had for music. She remembered when he would arrive home stressed out and with a stern gaze in his eyes. The first thing he would always do was to sit at his piano and play. As he played all the worries and stress from work would fade away and he was relieved. He was back in a good mood and was himself. In other words he healed.
Can we heal trough the experience of music? Our emotions are tied to our soul, the part that makes us “us”. Could it be that God himself is able to communicate with us trough music? Could it be that God bestowed the gift of music upon man not only to express himself or send messages across great distances but as a device to heal the mind, body and soul by simultaneously stimulating all these areas at once? These are aggressive questions that we must explore on our own. Not necessarily the lessons that I’ve learned trough my life in music would be beneficial to you my reader in this front unless you are willing to confront yourself in these matters and ask yourself these questions. I can tell you that there is something to be found behind all of these questions. We have only tapped the surface of a more profound reality. Will we step up the plate? We have much to gain. Think about a life full of health, peace, energy and joy. I think it is worth a shot, don’t you?