Music and the Healing Power of Sound

 Topic: Music and the Healing Power of Sound

Sound, particularly music, has been a part of the human experience for millennia. Everyone has their own tastes and preferences. In his novel The War of the Flowers, Tad Williams writes of “…that youthful certainty that there was good music and bad music and that they knew which was which. ‘Bullshit,’ he’d told them once. ‘A teenage girl creaming while she listens to some boy-band, a monk digging on the God he hears in Gregorian chants, or John fucking Coltrane himself climbing up into the sky on a staircase made of sixteenth notes, it’s all the same. If it takes you there, it’s good.’” He is right. Music, just about any kind of music, can lift the human spirit. But it goes deeper than that: Sound has healing properties.

One example I find interesting and compelling is that the sound of a cat purring can reduce blood pressure, ease inflammation, and aid in the healing process. Another is the sound treatment that effectively breaks apart kidney stones. We have been using sound waves to take images of internal bodily structures since 1940. If you think about it, these things make perfect sense. Our bodies are an elastic solid, with fluid components, and sound waves have a visible effect on fluids. It makes sense that vibrations can soothe our bodies as well as our minds, and there are experiments you can conduct yourself to see what sound waves do. The study of how sound can be used for healing is mostly practiced by mystics and alternative healers, but what we know so far is promising. I got to attend a fascinating workshop on this topic, presented by my beloved Courtney, which is what inspired this sermon. One of the most interesting things I learned from the workshop is the way in which sound travels through the body and how it can have a physiological effect. There was even a demonstration of sound harmonics that involved group intonations and everyone reported an associated physical sensation triggered by the different sounds.

As far as music and what does it for you, that is deeply personal and truly up to the individual. I like everything from Lindsey Stirling to Mozart to John Coltrane. I listen to pagan circle chants, big band, and classic rock from multiple decades. The point is that I think most music is good. It heals me and connects me to the greater Universe in a personal way. I like listening to my music, and I dig listening to the music that others like. I want to know what gets you there. Hearing the music other people like is a great way to find new songs and artists that I can add to my eternally-expanding list of Liked songs on Spotify, and a good way to learn more about the person I am with. You can learn a lot about a person by what music they are listening to.

The next time you hear a song that you really identify with, one that takes you there, take a moment to really hear and appreciate it. Allow it to become part of yourself, to grok it in fullness. Listen, and be healed.


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