Tune In

Tune In
Music can move us to tears, help us feel calm or comforted, or inspire us to action. The rhythmic sounds of nature (think of waves breaking on a beach) can bring us into balance. Now researchers are learning more about how music and sound directly affect the healing process.

EVIDENCE. A 2008 study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine revealed that listening to music you consider joyful for 30 minutes helps release endorphins to relieve pain and reduce stress, which can otherwise overload your immune system and lead to a host of health conditions. Another study completed last year at Seattle University in Washington showed that listening to Mozart for 12 minutes three times a week can lower systolic blood pressure by seven points.

YOUR BODY TUNES IN. Researchers say that when you listen to music and sounds, your heartbeat, breath, and brain waves begin to slow down or speed up in response to what you’re hearing. Your body syncs up with the sound, and the result can be an enhanced relaxation response—stress lifts, your heartbeat slows, muscles relax, and your body releases feel-good endorphins—or improved energy levels, depending on the rhythm.

GET STARTED. Try these ways to benefit from sound therapy:

EASE STRESS:
Use tuning forks and singing bowls
“Sonic tools” like tuning forks and singing bowls can soothe an overexcited nervous system, says Jonathan Goldman, author of The Seven Secrets of Sound Healing (Hay House, 2008). Singing bowls create a calming noise when you run a mallet around the rim, and tuning forks hum when tapped.
Try it: Use these tools as frequently as needed, says Goldman. For tuning forks, go to Healing Sounds or Biosonics. For crystal singing bowls, visit Crystal Tones. For Tibetan singing bowls, try Ten Thousand Villages.

RELIEVE INSOMNIA:
Listen to a healing CD
“Music is to the nervous system what nutrients are to the body,” says Joshua Leeds, author of The Power of Sound (Healing Arts Press, 2001). He designs audio CDs with music, special effects, and sounds from the natural world to enhance various activities, such as falling asleep.
Try it: See Sound Remedies or Steven Halpern Inner Peace Music.

SHARPEN YOUR MIND:
Learn an instrument
Studies show that daily practice of a musical instrument can keep the brain young and pliable. It can also help relieve tension as your body actually resonates with the soft energies of the instrument.
Try it: Find a local teacher and ask about beginner lessons. Practicing for five minutes can clear tension and a foggy mind.