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- William Congreve
When you mention Pythagorean theorem to a high school math student, you probably will invoke thoughts of right triangles, sums of squares and how that relates to an hypotenuse. Truth be told, that theorem the Greek mathematician Pythagoras taught around 600 B.C. wasn't his personal favorite. A philosopher as well as a numbers guy, Pythagoras ascribed to another belief that he found more important. In his search for personal harmony , he taught that music and diet were the key and ingredients for maintaining a healthy and long life.
That music should be found throughout history to have a profound and important effect on us is not a surprise to any film composer or producer. Chilling on-screen scenes are regularly accompanied by screeching violin lines. Schmaltzy orchestrations protrude through soft love scenes. That our emotions are impacted by sound and music is a fact not lost on advertising companies who seek to manipulate us in their commercials.
If music is considered effective in such ways, we should not be surprised to find that, properly used, it can restore and maintain health.
All nature moves and lives in a rhythm and harmony. Rhythm and harmony are but manifestations of energy, easily measured in mathematical beats and frequencies. If we are to live in health, we must acknowledge that natural energy in ourselves. We must bring it to mind. In experiencing healing music, we can bring our natural health to mind.
Before Pythagoras, aboriginal man included sound, music and dance in healing ritual. Even today, startling healing events have been documented by Harvard researcher Richard Katz in his study of the Kalahari !Kung. The !Kung tribe of central Africa still uses night-long singing and dancing circles to heal what we would consider terminal illnesses and injury. Katz describes the healing of life-threatening wounds on a tribesman attacked by a lion. The bleeding stopped, the wounds closed over and were barely visible by sunrise after a circle of 20 or so healers sang, chanted, drummed and danced around him throughout the night.
Most of us in Western culture are only aware of the use of "mood music" in elevators. But there are a few areas of breakthrough recently.
Beginning around the 1960s, European researchers began empirically noting that blood pressure and heart rate are affected by certain types of baroque styles and classical music. Hospitals have begun playing music in the obstetric suites and find that babies born with physical problems respond to treatment better. Mothers in labor are affected by the music played during delivery. A range physical, mental and emotional diseases respond to the use of music therapy. New applications are being found by Western trained music therapists.
The most comprehensive use of music in healing comes to us from the Vedic texts of ancient India. As an adjunct of ayurveda, the oldest recorded medical system, Gandharva veda is the use of music in replicating nature's rhythm and harmony. As the body senses these energies, the mind becomes aware of our natural link to health.
The flow of energy is not harmful, resistance to energy is. Think about it. Resistance to energy is what makes a toaster heat up and burn toast if it resists long enough. Friction in a car's engine is resistance to energy and if not lubricated, the engine ruins itself and dies. The same is true of our body. There is a natural flow of energy of which we are a part, which flows through us. (Some call that energy "love", and indeed, so often in our lives we see ourselves resisting love.) When we go with that flow of energy, there is less damage to the "machine." And if we resist...
The purpose of listening to Gandharva veda music, or any healing music, is to remind us of that flow; to lubricate the "machine." In Gandharva veda music, the performances, musically called "ragas", are emulations of the diurnal cyclic energy of the day. Each discrete time of the day has its natural energy and all things in this world ebb and flow with it. In considering the morning time, for example, there is a difference of feeling in the lifting energies of the rising sun, the awakening activity of animals and even plants. The evening energy is different, slower, relaxing and transitional. Morning, day, evening and night are examples of time flowing on a wave of energy. Our bodily cycles are also on that wave. When we are reminded of flowing with it, balance, harmony and peace of mind can result.
In this country, there are now at least 50 universities that offer degree programs in music therapy. The National Association for Music Therapy in Silver Spring, MD and the American Association for Music Therapy in Valley Forge, PA can provide referrals to certified Music Therapists. In Omaha, the Maharishi Vedic University can provide information about Maharishi Gandharva veda music and is currently sponsoring a tour by Indian performers of the genre. And the most empowering thing about music therapy is that, when understood, the effects are close by as your earphones.
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Michael Braunstein is Executive Director of Heartland Healing and certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners in clinical hypnotherapy. He graduated from the Los Angeles Hypnotism Training Institute and was an instructor at the UCLA Extension University for 11 years.
Heartland Healing is devoted to the examination of various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information and not as medical advice. It is not meant as an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or by Heartland Healing Center, Inc.