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Music and Words: A Marriage made in Heaven
by Nancy Wheeler, MPH, CHt

In the beginning was the creative sound, a primal tone, that contained within it every sound, every symphony, harmony and melody, every pattern and structure ever to be…

Music by itself deals with the highest reaches of the human soul. To ancient healers and philosophers, music was seen as the bridge between body, soul and the earth. It touches the most exquisite dimensions of creative vision, facilitates the release of the symbolic mythology of the unconscious and is imbued with the essence of human emotion.

All of the ancient mystery schools taught their students the use of music and sound as a creative and healing force. It was a predominant part of the early teachings of the Greeks, Chinese, East Indians, Tibetans, Egyptians, American Indians, Mayans, and the Aztecs. The Greek philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras, conceived of the universe as a vast musical instrument, reportedly hearing “the music of the spheres:”

Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole.

His followers came to Pythagoras for mood-music treatments during which he used tonality to process emotions and regulate daily rhythms. Research studies from 1914 to today have shown how music can influence the autonomic nervous system. Relaxing music can lower heart rate, pulse, breathing, blood pressure, muscle tension, pain perception and galvanic skin response. It can also reduce the level of stress hormones that lead to fatigue and illness. In a world where stress is a national standard, and relaxation hard to acquire, appropriate music can stimulate alpha brain waves for clear thinking and implementation of positive suggestion, or the delta waves that signal sleep. Music can interrupt the negative feedback loop between mind and body, releasing tension, as well as affecting emotions and feelings. Music has the unique ability to access both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Such harmony of the cerebral hemispheres enhances the pathway from the birth of new ideas to the ability to symbolize and implement them - all within a framework of healthy mind/body/spirit.

Music has the added function of eliciting spontaneous mental images. Imagery is primarily a right brain function and is directly linked with the unconscious and the physical functions of the nervous system. Historical records from Babylonia, Assyria and Greece describe rituals that use imagery to expunge disease. In shamanistic healing, the Shaman visualized himself going on a journey, finding the sick person’s soul and returning it to him. Beginning with the Egyptian Hermes, a spiritual philosophy developed based on the idea that images held in the mind can affect the physical universe. As a metaphoric language, imagery can be combined with the verbal left brain, known in therapeutic terms as guided imagery, for a comprehensive whole brain approach to healing, creativity and positive change, not only for the individual but also for mankind.

In the New Testament of the Bible it says, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” The power of words through prayer and positive therapeutic suggestion to promote change and healing is documented in modern scientific research. Pythagoras treated disease by reading poetry. He taught his students to use the voice in combination with beautiful words and a pleasing meter to restore balance to the body and soul. Like music, words and their sounds resonate with different parts of the body, different chakras, different emotional and mental states and different states of consciousness. All energy follows thought. When thoughts are given vocalization in combination with positive emotion and feeling, that energy is given great impulse toward manifesting.

Local pianist Tom Grant and I have combined forces in an innovative program at OMSI’s Murdock planetarium. The next presentation is on September 24th at 7:00pm. We will use the power of music and word to stimulate your senses and your imagination in “Equinox: A Journey to Relaxation.” The theme is Light and Dark, Fear and Love. Learn to relax, journey to your dreams, and create a space for more love to enter your life. See if you can hear the “music of the spheres.”

Nancy Wheeler is a certified medical and clinical hypnotherapist, educator and relaxation specialist. Her practice is in Lake Oswego and she can be reached at 503-684-4112 or Call Nancy for “Equinox” info or tickets.