Part One - The Melding of Mind and Music
Where there's music, there can be no evil.
Miguel de Cervantes
Since the dawn of time, there has always been music in our lives. Something about the rhythm and cadence allows us to experience very profound states of consciousness. That beat and rhythm has echoes throughout every ethnic group including Native American, South American, Australian, Asian, African, etc. all use drums and rhythm instruments of some sort -- as well as chanting, singing and dancing -- to enter higher dimensions of consciousness.
In the healing arts, music can be a key ingredient. Practitioners of those arts often use background music to create a special ambience which assists their patients to relax. Hypnotists, Music therapists, Massage therapists, and those who do any kind of body work are all familiar with techniques that include music. Dr. Weil's Sound Body, Sound Mind is a multi-faceted sonic tool for health, relaxation,and well-being. Deepak Chopra's The Magic of Healing Music is designed to create harmony between the environment and the body, mind and spirit.
Recent research shows that there is a direct correlation between specific musical frequencies and certain brain wave patterns. When music is used, it is possible to increase the levels of learning ability and enhance creativity, increase the amount of dream time, and increase relaxation and sleep.
It's the Vibrations
Music must be felt as well as heard for effective therapy or mood altering results. But the music selected for personal relaxation and enjoyment can be a very individual choice. Classical, Rock, Jazz or Blues, Country Western, Bluegrass or Folk, Hymns or Gospel, New Wave, World Music, Electronic Ambience and Trance...it's all soothing and relaxing according to individual choice and different musical taste. Different tones for different bones, I guess.
Part Two - Dreaming with the Classics
Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of a woman.
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Classical music can be the most beautiful and the most difficult music to understand. It's also one of the best types of music for healing, relaxation and meditation.
Adagio music is music played very slowly. It's excellent for meditation, or for the massage therapist as he/she makes long slow movements with the hands. The classics played on the harp lend themselves magnificently to meditation, sleep therapy and massage. Another excellent listening choice is Pachabel's Canon. It seems to have been created to promote relaxation.
The Baroque music of Mozart has become so popular as a healing tool that the treatment has become known as the Mozart Effect...
But whether it's Pachabel's Canon, Mozart's Baroque compositions or something by Beethoven, classical music, with it's slow measured pace or brisk staccato rhythm, lends itself well to relaxation. Whether played on the piano, violin, harp or with a full orchestra, it's well worth the time to listen and absorb its vibrations.
Part Three - Zen and the Art of New Age Music
Music is the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the geometry of light.
New age music brings us a step closer to music created for the mind, music to be used for meditation, relaxation and sleep therapy. Some of the music has been adapted from other venues, like the ancient Gregorian chants of early Christian music and the chants of the Zen Buddhists.
Other New Age music has been developed using new instruments and sound production techniques - electronic synthesizers, for example. New Age music for meditation and massage is also very popular. New Age music is often performed using the harp, flute, whistles and the drum. The rhythmic throb of a drumbeat is a big part of many aboriginal religions. It's the method used to lull people into a trancelike state. While listening to the music of the drums, it's not unusual to experience drowsiness and enter into a trancelike state, possibly experiencing some inner journey. What better way, then, to lull people to sleep and into the world of peaceful dreams?
Check the titles in the New Age section of any bookstore for a feast of New Age music - Celtic, Native American, chants. Try it. You'll like it.
Part Four - Drifting Into Dreamland
Form is the balance between tension and relaxation.
This final segment deals with two special classes of sleep or relaxation music. Many tapes and CDs made to use during meditation or self hypnosis use music as a base with a voice over giving the instructions. A previous example of this category was referrenced above - Andrew Weil's Sound Body, Sound Mind.
The final type of relaxation music is one of my favorites. What could be more relaxing than to lie down, close your eyes and imagine yourself dozing on the bank of your favorite stream.
This music augments your imagination by supplying the sound effects - the rippling stream, the wind rustling the needles of the pine tree above your head, the singing birds, even the buzzing flies as they flit past.
A search through many music stores will uncover a great deal of variety. The nature sounds include running water, birds, thunder storms, and diverge into more exotic areas with the howling of the wolves, the eerie cry of loons and even the voices of whales and dolphins. Backing these animal voices you can find music that varies from the classical to New Age.
Can't sleep? Snuggle under your blankets, make yourself comfy and close your eyes. Reach over and turn on the CD player and let your imagination carry you away to the wilderness. Listen to the birds, the waves washing the shore, a loon calling to its mate. Or drift into dreamland on a wave of soft classical music. What better way to fall asleep?