Music as the soundtrack of our lives

Has this ever happened to you? Someone nearby is humming a tune that you actually know, and for the rest of the day you can’t get the song out of your head? This is what happened to me twice this week while at work. A co-worker was humming a Katy Perry song, Love You For A Thousand Years, and I soon found myself looking for the entire song. Why? My co-worker only hummed the chorus and not the entire song, and I felt cheated so I needed to hear the whole thing through. Am I a fan? Not really, but the song was so stuck in my head that I couldn’t stop humming it until I heard it for myself. Music has that kind of effect on us. It seeps into the very fiber of one’s being and will not be shaken until you are moved to action somehow.

There is no doubt that music does wonders to alter a person’s mood, and even recent studies on the effects of music listening on the human body and psyche are abounding. A February 2015 article by Jill Suttie in the Huffington Post cited 5 ways in which music improves our health (see 5 Ways Music Improves Our Health at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/02/music-and-health-rock-on_n_6573132.html). Those 5 ways music improves our health are:

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety. Music can prevent anxiety-induced increases in heart rate and systolic blood pressure, and decrease cortisol levels — all biological markers of stress.
  2. Decreases pain. From personal experience during child birth, I listened to the music coming from the nurse’s station while I waited for the delivery room to be ready… all while having labor contractions and forgetting to do my Lamaze breathing. Studies also theorize that the release of dopamine during music listening may play a role in decreasing pain (dopamine being the neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers).
  3. May improve immune functioning. A study from Massachusetts General Hospital found that listening to Classical music helped relax critically ill patients by lowering stress hormone levels. The study also found that music decreased blood levels of interleukin-6 — a protein that has been implicated in higher death rates, diabetes and heart problems.
  4. May aid memory. Music enjoyment elicits dopamine release, and dopamine release has been tied to motivation, which in turn is implicated in learning and memory.
  5. Helps us exercise. In another study, oxygen consumption levels were measured while people listened to different tempos of music during their exercise on a stationary bike. The study results showed that when exercisers listened to music with a beat that was faster and synchronized to their movement, their bodies used up oxygen better than when the music was slower, and the beat unsynchronized.

Why do I bring this up? I have often said that music is the soundtrack of our lives. Many of us rely on music for a means of healing without even knowing it. Whether it is because a friend or co-worker has hummed a tune that is stuck in our heads for the rest of the week, or whether we turn on the radio or MP3 player in the car to keep us calm on a long commute home from work, or even if we are singing a lullaby to our children to ease them to sleep, we all use music in some way to “heal.”

In Book Four of my spiritual fiction series, The Last Prophet, Uriel’s Light, the main character is experiences multiple health issues, and the angel protector assigned to her often uses music from various sources to not only comfort and bring peace to her, but also as a way to heal her spirit and heart from regrets of the past. Music is indeed very healing, but we move to its rhythm so unconsciously throughout our daily lives.

I must confess that I even have playlists on my smartphone for almost every occasion. Some are celebratory (e.g., my Holiday playlist), while others are to focus and help motivate me (e.g., my Book Muse playlist). Whatever the circumstances may be, I have developed a “soundtrack” through music for different aspects of my life. I’m sure the same is true for others, but I will leave that up to you for discussion.

What does music do for you? Do you have a playlist for your life? Please comment in the space provided.

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