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Music Heals

Candice Williams, MD, writes about her love of music, and how it is a healing force that we all need to use more often.

We often hear the saying that many things are healing such as prayer, yoga or meditation.

But in my opinion, one of the most underutilized things that surrounds us every day is music.

Music lifts our spirits, inspires joy or can make us sad, melancholy, reflective or even angry if we listen to certain songs.

There is a baseline soundtrack to life; a rhythm – our heart beats.

 

The thump, thump in our chests gives us a basic cadence to live life to upon which all other things are frequencies and vibrations.

We are complex beings, so intricate and yet music is at the very core of our beings.

I believe that music is universal and it can help us in all kinds of ways. 

Without getting too technical, as I can quote a myriad of studies from the music therapy literature on what music can do for us, I’d like to say first and foremost, that sometimes the things that can’t be proven…. that’s where the magic happens.

Music is one of those entities for me and I believe that people from all walks of life, from patients, to doctors, to professionals in high stress positions can use music to enhance and even transform their daily lives.

 

I believe that people from all walks of life, from patients, to doctors, to professionals in high stress positions can use music to enhance and even transform their daily lives. Click To Tweet

 

Why do I believe this?

I’m an anesthesiologist and pain physician who left clinical practice to pursue becoming a music producer.

I know, I know, weird right?

There was something essential to my being, drawing me to make music and for many years I couldn’t make sense of why.

I was born into a music family, surrounded by it and I loved it in a way I couldn’t explain, but what I didn’t understand is how and why I became a doctor too.

I liked physiology, medicine and health and I also had a huge drive to help people. Even after all of my training years, I didn’t quite get it until one day I was lying in bed with neck pain. 

 

 I found myself unable to sleep, and I tried all of the familiar things: turmeric, a massager, salves and a heating pad.

As I sat there, unable to sleep, I tuned into what was bothering me.

As I felt the tension in my neck and body, I listened to one of my instrumental songs, closed my eyes, and took the time to breathe.

As I envisioned myself slowly releasing my pain, I felt the tension in my neck let up enough for me to allow my body to rest.

At that moment, I personally understood the importance of the connection between my body, soul, spirit, and mind.

 

As I envisioned myself slowly releasing my pain, I felt the tension in my neck let up enough for me to allow my body to rest. At that moment, I personally understood the importance of the connection between my body, soul, spirit, and mind. Click To Tweet

 

I needed to use all of them in my efforts to heal and I encourage others to use music in this way to get these benefits for themselves as a daily practice.

For those who need the statistics, according to the U.S. Department of Health, 1 in 5 Americans suffer from chronic pain, insomnia, and poor mental health; however, those who listened to the right music more often experienced a higher quality of life and even lessened chronic pain according to The British Journal of General Practice. 

 

So what does this mean for the everyday person and for the future of medicine in terms of mind-body connection?

I envision a world where one day we listen to music in clinical settings coupled with visuals in virtual reality pods to relieve our chronic pain, to ease our mental health struggles and to facilitate relaxation. 

My big dream is to develop an institute of Music and Medicine that studies music’s impact on health and provides therapeutic music treatment programs for chronic pain combined with integrative medicine services.

 

I envision a world where one day we listen to music in clinical settings coupled with visuals in virtual reality pods to relieve our chronic pain, to ease our mental health struggles and to facilitate relaxation. Click To Tweet

 

In conjunction, I would have a sister initiative, the Prelude Scholars Program, with pipeline programs for both future musicians and physicians providing no cost to low-cost education on a sliding scale to students from elementary through high school level.

It would focus on basic music skills and Jazz music education for musicians and a mentorship pipeline program for future physicians that continues throughout medical education. The institute would also provide scholarship funds from government sources, private institutes, and philanthropists to support musicians and student doctors as they progress to professional careers. 

 

More research is needed and there are institutes such as the American Music Therapy Association that are spearheading research efforts in this area. 

It is vital to bring a high level of education to students who are not normally represented in music and medicine in leadership roles and to foster an educational approach that integrates the mind, body and soul in healing efforts using music. 

In light of recent current events and the stress of our everyday lives, it is my dream to see society fully embrace music as the healing modality that it is. 

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