It walks us to work and pushes us through long runs. It enhances our nights out on the town and it intertwines itself firmly with our heartstrings, once for a moment and then forever. Music is the backdrop to our life and one of our longest-known friends. But, perhaps its finest quality yet is still its ability to aid us into relaxation.
Processed through the prefrontal and temporal cortexes mainly in the right hemisphere of the brain, science has proved that soothing music increases serotonin neurotransmitters, our bodies’ “feel-good” chemicals that are linked to pleasure and reward. This is why the sounds of soft flowing rivers against the hum of temperate Japanese instruments fit in seamlessly when accompanying a spa treatment or even a home bath. This unique effect of music on our bodies is further illustrated in the practice of yoga, where the sounds of nature help participants breathe more calmly and meditate in a still mind. Furthermore, it can be an especially useful tool for people suffering from physical ailments or chronic illness. Studies show that patients who were able to listen to soothing music before, during and directly after surgery actually requested less medication than their non-listening counterparts
Beyond these typical applications, though, listening to gentle music can also prove quite helpful in other scenarios. Passengers prone to nervousness or motion-sickness on planes, in cars or aboard boats can find some solace in the simple combination of performing controlled breathing and listening to relaxing music. In a study by PubMed, these non-pharmacologic alternatives provided noteworthy protection against motion sickness. Though only half as effective as standard anti-motion sickness drugs, these natural countermeasures are both free to use and easy to implement. Even mentally, there is the long-adhered-to 1993 study, “Nature”, conducted by psychologist Frances Rauscher Ph.D., that associated listening to 10 minutes of classical music with an immediate increase of 8-9 spatial IQ points, or, more simply put, an improvement in spatial-temporal reasoning. Workers often find it easier to concentrate when listening to music, as well.
A brilliant addition to one’s morning routine or a tool for everyday efficiency and mindfulness, peaceful music is a positive additive to anyone’s well-being.