You all know the old adage – “Music Hath Charms to Soothe the Savage Beast” – in actuality, it has been forever misquoted – it’s really “…to soothe the savage breast” –but either way, there can be no denying music’s power to change moods, and particularly from a somber or angry one – to happier.
Most people intuitively know that listening to music when they are feeling down or depressed can bolster their spirits. However recent research studies have shown that music, especially certain tones can clinically reduce stress. Music can alter brainwave patterns, as can yoga, deep breathing, and meditation – and bring on what is known as the Alpha State. Alpha is described as a state of deep relaxation, where the mind is totally stress-free and more open to problem solving. Using music to relax when dwelling on a particular problem then, may not only elevate your mood – but could help you reach that “a-ha” moment and find a solution.
Music has also been shown to increase the level of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which are linked to mood. In this way music has been shown not only to make you feel good – but also, to be a great motivator. For example, during exercise, listening to music can keep you going, or get you to exercise more by helping you to ignore negative feelings of fatigue and focus on the pleasurable feelings you get from being absorbed in the music.
From Gregorian Chants to Gospel Music, there is a spiritual aspect to music that is undeniable. There is not a human culture in existence now or in antiquity that has not had music as part of religious ritual. There is even a belief that each of us has or can find his or her own “Power Song” that can help us to achieve all we want in life.
But beyond “The Search for the Lost Chord” – or the scientific rational of how or why music can change mood– music is at its most basic essence recorded emotion. When we listen to a piece of music we share the artist’s feelings on a visceral level. True, that can be sad, and who among us hasn’t put on a painful love song to share in the misery after a bad break-up. But, by the same token, we can share in the elation of songs of joy and happiness, or any song or piece of music that reminds us of a particular happy time in our past.
So next time you are feeling down, put on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” – or dust off your Bob Dylan albums – you may, or may not connect with the “Harmonic Vibrations of the Universe” but I bet you will feel a whole lot better about whatever it was that was bothering you!
Jason Harvey is the author of “Achieve Anything In Just One Year: Be Inspired Daily to Live Your Dreams and Accomplish Your Goals.” He is a Certified Life Coach and founder of the Limitless Institute, a non-profit organization that funds research into human motivation and personal development. Jason’s blogs offers advice, lessons and tips on personal development, motivation and happiness
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