From the very first stages of our development, we become dependent upon the reassuring sound and rhythm of our mother’s heart beat. In the womb it is that constant rhythm that intrinsically communicates safety, belonging and life as we know it.
In listening to music, we are given a form and structure through melody and rhythm in which to listen, therefore providing a boundary or container for the listener. For many of us, music provides a back drop to our lives, from infancy to adulthood. It becomes a constant, a way of bringing order to chaos. Throughout the history of human existence we have created music. It has been part of our survival, our celebration and our mourning. Some of the oldest physical artefacts found in excavation sites are musical instruments. Music is a deep part of human history, it is impossible to go through life without some connection to music, even the rhythmic sound of footsteps or the melody in someone’s voice can appear musical. Recent evidence has suggested that music and other rhythmic stimuli can actually alter mental states and heal damaged brains.
We are using music more and more as healing tools. It may be used as a form of communication or a tool of regression. I remember my supervisor saying how he would often ask his teenage counselling clients to bring to the sessions, pieces of music that they were listening to at the time, as they would act as doors in to the teenager’s world. He said that often the title of the song or composition could convey so much that was difficult in verbal communication.
I think being aware of the music we are drawn to is a wonderful way of being present to our feelings and desires. I am interested by how I can feel almost obsessed with a certain artist or musical genre, only to let it float away once I have exhausted it and move on to something new. As often the case in a therapeutic process, once we have delved deep and really felt and expressed something that we feel has been acknowledged, then we can let it go.
Music can also be used as a connector or comforter. We can return to the same piece again and again as a bridge to connect us to emotion and feeling and give us something we feel we need. It is a powerful tool.
Krysia and I like to incorporate music and sound in to our workshops. Interested not only in the calming effects on a group but also in the act of listening and interpreting sounds in a visual way. Combining the use of the senses is a wonderful way to draw awareness to ourselves and our processes.
From what I have understood through my studies and my work is that despite all the research in to the effect of music on the brain and the positive effects it can have, there is still an element of mystery to the deep question of why? To me it is part of the magic, that this deeply connected tool we have been provided with to make and listen to music, is unanswerable. Perhaps it is the forever connector to our mother’s heart beat. It does what it does and I feel deeply grateful for the depths and the joy that it brings.