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East meets West ~ Music and Sound As a Healing Art

As you know, I love bridging the gap between the east and the west, in all sorts of ways. I'm always observing different cultures. I also love learning and sharing information.

In my practice, I use music and sound vibrations to help with stress reduction and a variety of ailments.

Music and sound vibrations have been around for thousands of years. In the West, Sound Therapy and Music Therapy are becoming more recognized and accepted as healing modalities. The east has used sound and music as part of their healing practices for centuries.

Before we continue, it's helpful to note that, generally, the West typically researches topics and collects data in order to prove validity. The east, functions more from tradition, tried and proven methods, and intuition. Also, it's good to keep in mind that the east is a much, older culture than the west.

In the West, there's been a lot of recent research done on music as a form of therapy. The findings are showing that music therapy can have a positive affect on our mental and physical health. Studies are showing that music therapy is a useful tool in reducing anxiety, social anxiety and some forms of depression. We have all listened to a song and have had an emotional experience. Music makes us laugh, cry, gives us hope, and gives us peace. There's no question that music can directly affect our mood. Studies are finding this to be true! This is all good news because from the Western perspective, music is being recognized as a valid tool to promote healing. Very exciting!

Music connects us to ourselves. When someone is diagnosed with a physical or mental illness, music often helps the person to come into a more relaxed state so that they can move forward in their treatment plan. Listening to uplifting music has been shown to help increase dopamine levels in the brain. This leads to better mood, and can give us support during difficult times. Music has also shown to increase serotonin levels.

For some people, music helps with communication. Sometimes, we can't find the words to express ourselves, or we just don't know how to start a conversation. Then out of nowhere, a song will say everything we've been trying to say. It's like that song is speaking to you.

Some of us have anxiety being in social settings, and music helps take the edge off so that we can enjoy the experience. Music brings people together, and it also can fill a lonely heart. Let's face it, music touches us on a level that we often can't explain. It can get us out of bed and dancing in our living room. It can help us shake off a sad moment. It can leave us with fond memories, after a night with friends or family. How many times have you played a song and it felt like you are reliving that moment.

Music therapy helps many conditions like those living with chronic pain, Parkinson's disease, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, autism, strokes, dementia, anxiety, substance abuse and just about any condition I can think of.

Music has been a substantial part in human history. We can connect to a certain era, through music. Music also connects us to dance styles, clothing styles, hairstyles and makeup styles. Both in the East and in the West, music can be very ceremonial, religious and spiritual.

From a Yoga and Ayurvedic perspective, music and sound tap into all of the layers of ourselves. It penetrates through all the levels of the Koshas, from gross to subtle. Sound is a vibration and we are vibrational beings. This is one of the reasons why chanting is a big part of Yoga. It has a deep effect on our parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers the relaxation response. It takes us out of the mind chatter, and it brings us to a state of peace. Listening to chants also has a similar effect. Another way to evoke sound vibration is through repeating mantras. We create a vibration by repeating the mantra out loud. When we chant OM, (AUM) we are activating all the chakras, particularly the solar plexus, throat, and third eye chakras.

There's so many ways music and sound are used to evoke spirit.

For example, ringing a bell in eastern traditions is considered auspicious. It is done to help disengage the mind from mindless thoughts and bring us into focus. In almost any case, eastern or western, ringing a bell is used to re-direct our attention.

In the Indian culture, blowing into a conch shell signifies the beginning of an Arti. This is a ceremony where lit candles or ghee wicks, are waved in front of a deity. The light signifies the removal of darkness. Often times, this is followed by deep drumming rhythms, which is meant to tap into our inner vibrations to wake up the deep layers of ourselves. Just about every culture has specific musical sounds to bring is into a different state of being.

Have you ever had the experience of watching a true musician up close? If you have, did you feel their energy? They are completely absorbed in the vibration of the music. Almost like they are in a trans. You can see that the music is flowing through them, and there's no separation between the instrument and the person. It's mesmerizing. They are in a state of meditation. Using your hands to play an instrument is a fantastic way to "Get out of our head." There's no space for mind chatter, because the brain is completely connecting to the sound and energy vibrations. Try it! The minute you start thinking about what you are doing, or questioning it, or any completely lose your focus on the vibration. I have taken drumming lessons over the years, both african drumming, and Indian drumming, and that has been my experience. The minute I look down at my hands, I lose my connection.

Managing our senses may not seem important, but from a Yoga and Ayurvedic perspective, it's life changing. It may even be the key to finding joy in your life. The practice is called Pratyahara. It teaches us to develop a harmonious relationship with our senses. This enables us to be in the pure enjoyment of each moment, as opposed to clinging from one sensory experience to another.

The big takeaway here is that we are all vibrational beings. Sound is one of the 5 senses, and we are all sensory beings. The senses are a direct link to our true selves. It's only through the understanding of how to manage our senses that we can begin to deepen the relationship with ourselves. Music can be a wonderful tool to support this. Listen to something that speaks to you. Sing something that speaks to Allow yourself the freedom to let the vibrations move through you. Music is a vibration that bring us closer to our true selves. We are music. We are vibrations. We are a symphony.

Don't let your life go by without tapping into your unique musical vibration!

~ Leelah

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