Let the Music Heal You

Icckk!  I don’t like the MRI test. It makes me anxious and claustrophobic. For those who may not be familiar with it, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. The test is an excellent tool for monitoring multiple sclerosis. But if you’ve ever experienced one, you know how anxiety-provoking they can be.

Some MRI centers allow patients to bring their own music to listen to while undergoing the test. I do this and it does help relax me. I bring a CD of what I call my “healing music”. I hand it to the technician, and they put it into their computer, hand me earphones that play my music. I still do not like the test, but the music gets me through it.

Music has a way of stirring my innermost feelings and all of my senses, of tapping into parts of myself unlike anything else. Music is a universal language that has the ability to speak to me deeply and uniquely. Music calms my spirit.

If you've paid much attention to how you respond to a variety of music, you may have noticed that some music seems to energize you; some music can move you to tears or spark a special memory of a time, place, food, or perhaps a certain person. Some music seems to make you relax, feel less stressed, and feel happier. And some music fills you with deep spiritual attunement.

So what makes music “healing music?”

According to composer Steve Halpern, who for forty years has composed meditative, instrumental music, “I refer to my recordings as Sonic Spiritual Technology for the 21st Century. The music is about the space — between notes, the gap between thoughts — where we can align and attune fields of infinite potential.” In his earlier career, Halpern played trumpet, bass, and guitar with jazz and R & B bands. 

I have collected a few of Halpern’s CDs over the years. As a musician, I liked the genre (often called New Age Music) because it did not distract me by trying to determine the composer, the melody, the beat. I did not feel I was analyzing this music, that I was being technical-critical with it. It simply let me relax and enter in. 

Critics of Halpern’s healing music believe his work not only entertains listeners, but entertains their brains, leading them to the higher octaves of consciousness by orchestrating tone and timbre to automatically slow down their brain waves into the alpha and theta ranges in which our natural healing energies are amplified.

I might not understand the science behind the music that relaxes me while I listen to it, but I know which tunes relax me. I have other composers who seem to do the same for me: Constance Demby, (Novus Magnificus); Jon Marks (Standing Stones of Callanish);  David Lanz (Cristofari’s Dream); and Steve Halpern  (Deep Alpha). As they say in art, “I just know what I like.” I often use healing music for meditation and prayer, walking my hand held labyrinth, and some days at home when I want to relax.
Forty years ago, Dr. C. Norman Shealy, a holistic doctor, prescribed Halpern’s Chakra Suite album to patients who needed to reduce their stress. It was part of what made his patients heal and relax. 

So, when you are preparing for an MRI, a medical test or a doctor’s appointment that has you a bit anxious, try a little healing music. It is relatively inexpensive, and can help you relax in the present moment, while you are listening to the music.

It’s just what some doctors order.
6 Appreciate this

Karen Zielinski, OSF

Sister Karen Zielinski was the Director of Communications for the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio, from 1991 to 2008. She is now director of Canticle Studio, a creative office of products which focus on spirituality and health. She holds a BA in education and a master’s in music. She is a monthly columnist for several magazines, including St. Anthony Messenger, and is regularly published in other journals. She lectures on chronic disease and coping strategies. Karen has lived with multiple sclerosis since 1975.