For many, music is an expression of emotion that is both personal, and can affect the lives of those listening. Through this basic belief in the power of music, an instrumental bridge, lyrical phrase or rhythmic expression can easily help to change a person’s mood or outlook. Many researchers study the effect of music on the brain, especially when it comes to disorders related to stress, anxiety or neurological issues such as Parkinson’s disease or Autism, trying to improve the overall outcome of patients by reaching and even activating parts of the brain that can relieve symptoms. The same types of therapies have also been shown to improve the functions of the heart, reaching further into the mind-body connection as it relates to music and rhythm.
The heart is controlled by the brain, through complex signals that are derived through nerves, chemicals and other physiological means. Because of this connection, those who experience heart-related physical concerns may benefit from the touch of music therapy. As the brain receives the various tones and beats of a song, such as the slow rhythmic pattern of a Djembe, or the lilting tone of a flute, it can help to re-sync the brain into a more beneficial pattern. The benefit of this, for the heart, comes across as calmer mind, which can reduce heart problems such as high blood pressure or increase blood flow throughout the body. Many times, music can be used to guide the brain and heart into a more relaxed mode, calming anxiety and improving the overall physical and mental health of the listener, through the simple act of listing to a song.
This musical guidance can be heard in various forms throughout a song and its changing beat composed to accentuate the instruments, or even within a drum circle, where the rhythms can change and evolve in a natural, cooperative manner. Creating such an environment for relaxation can benefit a wide range of physical and mental health problems, and can benefit people of all musical ability, age or those with various medical diagnoses.
Music and rhythm continue to be studied as alternative forms of therapies that help reach into the minds and hearts of people everywhere. From stress and anxiety reduction, to the ability to improve heart function and other disorders, the capacity of music and rhythm as a tool for wellness continues to find a niche in just about all aspects of health.