How to define music has long been the subject of debate, but one thing that is not debatable is the fact that music is a very important component within many of our lives.
Throughout history, philosophers, musicians, and scientists have debated over exactly what constitutes music, and how it should be defined. The definition has varied throughout history. It’s varied in different regions of the world; and it’s varied within different societies.
One person may define it as instrumental sounds possessing a degree of melody, harmony, or rhythm. Someone else may define it as a harmonious combination of sounds. Or how about defining it as a medium to express story and emotion through organized sound?
Since what one person may find pleasing to listen to another will find intolerable, there is certainly no “right or wrong” definition of music in this instance. However, one thing is for sure: your genes, personalities, and life experiences all play a role in how you personally define the term.
So what do you know about music from a health and wellness standpoint?
Music stimulates the mind. Brain research demonstrates that neural connections grow stronger with use and weaker if they are not used. When listening to music, brain scans show that our entire cerebral cortex, which is the central processing area of the brain, is highly active. While we are listening to music, brain cells are rapidly sending messages back and forth, and this workout strengthens connections, and helps the brain function more efficiently.
Music is known to be therapeutic and has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that music could heal both the body and the soul; and to this day, Native Americans use singing and chanting as part of their healing rituals.
Music can promote relaxation of tense muscles, enabling you to easily release some of the tension you carry from a stressful day. Soothing music has been said to help promote healthy digestion in adults, as it triggers a relaxation response within the body, and this lowers cortisol levels (aka, the stress hormone), thus helping us to digest food easier. Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression at bay. Finally, music with the tempo of a healthy, resting heartbeat will guide your own breathing and heartbeat to it. This slows down our racing body rhythms!
So how can we incorporate music into our lives?
We can listen to music by ourselves or with our family and friends. It doesn't matter what your voice sounds like, singing improves your mood and can even increase your resistance to infection. How about picking up your nearest musical instrument and playing it? If you don't have one, create one! Moving your body to music increases circulation, strengthens muscles, and makes you feel better.
The Importance of music in our lives is clear: it’s in the air we breathe; it is part of the thoughts we think; it’s a universal language; it’s a healing tool; and it can inspire us.
These thoughts come to you courtesy of the Coalition on Family Caregiving. You may visit us on the web at www.cfcares.org. The Coalition on Family Caregiving, formed in 2003, is a group of community-based organizations, businesses and individuals whose mission is to assist family caregivers by offering support, education and information on resources and services. Our caregiver support focuses primarily in and around the Union County New Jersey area.