Healing and Spiritual Awakening Through Music
In this writing it is a pleasure to share my little parcel of knowledge and personal experience with the vast ocean of spiritual and healing power that music can connect us to. "Music alone can take you to the Highest!" This is a quote from Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna's foremost disciple and the man who is primarily responsible for bringing the wisdom and teachings of India's Vedanta Philosophy to the West. He was a powerful and bold human being who was well known for his powerful and bold words.
The power of music to connect us with our Divine Source and to open our whole being to the natural healing forces within is widely known and largely ignored. Music has been used in spiritual and healing rituals for many thousands of years by virtually every culture and civilization on the planet. In nearly every culture that has existed, the power of music has been amplified by group participation in music, rhythm and dancing. Most of the music created in the past has been used to connect with a higher source, to induce healing, and often to tell stories and preserve history through the songs.
In the present day, particularly in the West music is predominantly entertainment. There is little group participation as musical events tend to be spectator events with a "star" performer and an audience. Outside of churches and spiritual and new age centers there is little use of music for spiritual purposes or for healing and almost no group participation in music with family, friends or community. Sadly, most of our spontaneous expression of music as children is greeted with another family member putting their fingers in their ears or worse. In rare cases where obvious talent is present and recognized, the talented person is often looked upon with awe and envy.
In cultures past everyone participated. They all chanted, they all sang, they all danced and made rhythm. There have always been leaders and specially gifted musicians but they have not always had the exclusive right to the joy and higher experiences that music so easily provides to all who participate.
Some of the power of music is still very evident, of course. Thousands of people pay a sizable percentage of their pay check to experience their favorite bands or musicians. There IS some group magic that can take place in a concert, as the power of the words and the music itself connects individuals to something deeper in themselves that connects them to that same something in others. There is still a great deal of popular music with meaningful words and gifted musicians who are truly channels for something larger than their egos, but percentage wise not very much.
This is changing however, and many are now beginning to experience some of the higher gifts music offers us all. Group drumming is becoming increasingly popular as people discover the hypnotic and healing high of losing oneself in ongoing repetitive rhythms and dance. Chanting is growing in popularity as people experience the grounding and at the same time the ecstatic high that can be experienced through chanting. You can chant by yourself or listen to chants or in my opinion experience the greatest high by participating in group chanting.
Chanting has evolved in every culture from Indian, Native American, Sufi, Christian, and on and on! It has even surfaced in some popular music such as John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance". There are now new age and world music sections in most music stores where you can find chants and spiritually uplifting music from many sources. In new age bookstores and catalogs there is a great abundance of healing music, chanting, meditative music and sounds, and universal spiritual music. The power of music to soothe, relax, invigorate, release emotion, and organize our thoughts is widely recognized and experienced by millions daily. Still, as a central force capable of uniting us with the very source of creation and the vast storehouse of healing energy, music seldom receives recognition equal to it's power.
There are however, now available, volumes of great books and articles about the healing and spiritual power of music. There are thousands of case studies of psychological healing that has taken place through the use of music. Music has successfully been used to access and release deeply hidden and repressed emotions to aid in the healing of unprocessed emotional trauma and psychological damage. The use of music and rhythm has been used to greatly enhance physical therapy when repetitive movement was necessary for rehabilitation but painful for the patient. If you listen to music with a tempo slower than your heartbeat, your heart will slow down! The mind-body connection that has finally gained acceptance and scientific validation tells us that our emotional health directly affects our physical health and vice versa.
Music, meditation, movement and dance, affect our whole being, physically, emotionally and spiritually in profound and tangible ways. The cosmology or creation myth of nearly every culture has sound, music, words, or vibration as the source of all that is. "In the beginning was the Word." Science and physics today corroborate the ancient wisdom of the Vedas from India, the world as we know it is an illusion! There is nothing that is really solid, just pinpoints of energy that seem to pulsate in and out of existence and everything vibrates! Ultimately vibration is all there is! Hazrat Inayat Khan expresses this thoroughly and eloquently in his book, "The Music of Life". It's all so incredible, so amazing and so simple. Like all the secrets of the spirit and of the universe, the answers are always present and immediately available, we need only be awakened. Music possesses the power to awaken.