Last night I went to see my favorite musician, Josh Ritter, in concert; I don't think there's anything quite like really great live music—it made me feel alive, inspired and joyful. It also had me wondering, how does music really affect the mind and body?
Did you know that music can deliver psychological and physical benefits in a wide range of medical uses and health conditions? A study released in August 2009 looked at open-heart surgery patients who listened to music on the day after their surgery. Those patients experienced increased relaxation levels as well as higher levels of the neurotransmitter oxytocin, a hormone related to feelings of bonding and comfort.
Listening to or performing instrumental music, as well as singing (individually or communally), can reduce blood pressure, lessen pain and anxiety, ease stress and may help keep cognition sharp.
How can you benefit for the power of music?
1. Sing out loud—in the car, the shower or anywhere you’re inspired
2. Go to see live music; breath it in, feel it in your body
3. Learn an instrument; it’s never too late to try something new
4. Attend a community singing or chanting group
5. Take your iPod (if you’ve got one) along with you for any stressful medical test or procedure or situation (I never fly without Josh)
6. Put on your headphones on and take a long walk, go somewhere beautiful and let you mind and body relax
7. Blast the music in your room, lie down and feel the vibrations move through you
8. Just hum; the vibrations in your body have been found to have great healing effects
Just 30 minutes of one or more of these activities has been found to reduce anxiety and increase relaxation. Try it. Your body and spirit will feel the difference.