Emotions are life energy. They can make us as free and exhilarated as they can make us stuck.
The human being’s emotional life is so rich, filled with challenge and joy! Our emotions can make us sicker than any virus going around. Or healthy, resilient and strong. Emotional health is an essential element of overall wellbeing.
So many of us use music consciously or unconsciously to manage our emotional energy or to simply change our mood.
When I was pregnant with our second child, I was learning how to play the lute. The lute was popular for hundreds of years, especially in Europe. It fell out of fashion during the 1700s.
The lute is a fascinating instrument with a huge repertoire of beautiful music. My lute is a copy of one in a German museum that was built in 1685.
The back of the lute is round, which makes it a bit tricky to hold on to as you play. As I reached the late stages of pregnancy, it was a lot like my abdomen, only in the opposite direction.
Trying to hold and play the lute was like trying to balance one basketball on top of another. I managed though, and enjoyed my practice.
It is known that a fetus can hear by the fourth month of pregnancy. Our son became accustomed to the soft sounds of the lute through my stomach throughout his gestation.
I found it fascinating that after he was born, if I played my lute or even a recording of lute music when he was really fussy or crying, he would immediately stop crying and listen to the music. It was consistently a dramatic change in his mood.
I just wish it had worked as well when he became a teenager.
Where do emotions come from? Do they come from the head or the body? Answering this question is like answering, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” A variety of theories have appeared over the past hundred years.
Emotions have two main parts: a perception or perceived stimulus and a physiological response.
In many theories, these are controlled by an area of the brain called the Limbic System.
Candace Pert gave us a whole new perspective on emotions based on her research in neuropeptides and their receptors. She says in her book, Molecules of Emotion:
“We can no longer think of the emotions as having less validity than physical, material substance, but instead must see them as cellular signals that are involved in the process of translating information into physical reality, literally transforming mind into matter. As we have seen, the neuropeptides and their receptors are the substrates of the emotions, and they are in constant communication with the immune system, the mechanism through which health and disease are created … Your body is your subconscious mind.”
So how does music fit into this picture?
The research on music and emotions and the emotional part of the brain is fascinating!
In an article called “Music and the brain: the neuroscience of music and musical appreciation” by Michael Trimble and Dale Hesdorffer state,
“If it is a language, music is a language of feeling. Musical rhythms are life rhythms, and music with tensions, resolutions, crescendos and diminuendos, major and minor keys, delays and silent interludes, with a temporal unfolding of events, does not present us with a logical language, but, to quote Langer again, it ‘reveals the nature of feelings with a detail and truth that language cannot approach’ (Langer, 1951, p. 199, original emphasis).”
In his book, “This is Your Brain on Music,” neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin states,
“Music is clearly a means for improving people’s moods. Now we think we know why…It also invokes some of the same neural regions that language does, but far more than language, music taps into primitive brain structures involved with motivation, reward and emotion.” (p. 191)
You are intimately wired to respond to sound from your atoms to your energetic networks. Music and sound can either create more stress in your life or make your life so much easier.
We often ignore the sound around us, but that doesn’t stop it from affecting you. I encourage you to become aware of the music and sound around you and how it makes you feel, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
When you become more aware of the sound and music around you, you are empowered to make choices that support your wellbeing in so many ways.