Newsletter 6 — Music as Medicine

Welcome to a slightly late issue six.

I’m happy to report the reason for the delay -a music and sound therapy certification class I signed up for, one weekend a month until July 2012!

I hope to share with you lovely Somata Wellness readers the many insights I’ve learned and have yet to learn throughout this course.

Since the last two classes, which served as introductions from two top researchers in the fields of music and sound therapy Dr. Arthur Harvey and Don Campbell, I’ve been exposed to just how music affects health and well being. I hope to be able to pass on these benefits by incorporating them into my bodywork practice.
Fortunately, by doing one of my favorite things – making music mixes – I got a head start into understanding the science and theory of music and sound therapy practices.

Turns out I already knew about one of the goals of the latest assignment for class but didn’t know there was a word for it: entrainment. Entrainment is how your body reacts to variance in sound. With the Music for Massage Mix, the goal is relaxation for bodywork. The songs are picked not only for their individual calming effect (familiar, non-evasive and slower-tempo), but also to create an atmosphere of rhythms and tones to which your body will more easily respond. I use entrainment to help your body and mind relax. As Daniel Levitin says in his book,This Is Your Brain On Music, “bodies like rhythm, brains like music.”

Other examples of entrainment include stroke victim therapy. Studies have shown that a person’s heart rate will entrain to the rhythm of what is heard in slower pieces of music. Some hospitals have started to use this in helping patients recover from surgery. The music helps to lower blood pressure and regulate heart rate, thereby easing post-op anxiety and depression. By now you’re familiar with the hormones and chemicals stimulated by massage therapy that explain this phenomena through past Somata Wellness issues. With music (and sometimes sound) therapy this same electrical stimulus begins in the ear, rather than on the skin.

Oliver Sacks MD, noted neurologist and Professor at Columbia University, has also linked music and the brain through his research. His latest book, Musicophilia, goes further into explaining just what these chemicals do and how they are linked not only to stroke recovery, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s but also to emotions and mood.

BodyWork Therapy Spotlight  

There are a million modalities, or types of bodywork therapy. This month, the spotlight is on Orthobionomy.
Orthobionomy, developed by British osteopath and martial arts master Dr. Lincoln Pauls, involves using the body’s proprioception to discover imbalances. Through gentle movement and light compression, the practitoner will suggest how a client can use their own reflexes to relieve tension and stress in the body. Steeped in homeopathic concepts, the idea of “like heals like” is at the core of Orthobiotomy. Once a therapist shows how certain holding patterns can create imbalance, these aligning movements can facilitate self-healing.

Thank You For Reading!

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