Music as Medicine

Written by Phil and Shannon Dames

Combined with intention and a secure set and setting, music is an excellent way to metabolize strong emotions and sensations. It promotes heartfulness and with intention and regulation practices, it can also expand your window of tolerance. This can be especially helpful for those who continue to be immersed in trauma laden environments (Bensimon, 2020) and those working with post traumatic stress (Beck et al., 2021; Macfarlane, Masthoff, & Hakvoort, 2019).  

By making space for the various layers and sensations that music elicits in the body, we also learn to make space for the various layers and sensations that emotions elicit in the body. In this way, music can be an integral part of one’s healing, regardless of where we are on our journey. It creates a touch point in time that we can return to through our auditory senses. By using different types of music, we can create touch points in time. Using tracks that create additional textures makes the music more tactile in nature with more layers to tune into. As a result, it magnifies the ability to reach back to that track when we need to tune back in. Our body has an incredible ability to recall these moments, even if our brain does not.  

Types of Music and Set (intentions) and Setting (environment and tools):

  • Go inside: close your eyes and ears to the outer world so you can focus on the inner world. 
  • Choose wisely: Finding music that moves you – fluffing up sensations within, while simultaneously opening your heart space.  Ideally you will choose music without words so you can listen for your inner voice. If you are listening to lyrics, make sure they align with your own values and intentions.  
  • Utilize different instruments and textures within the music to activate different parts of your body. Strong beats send vibrations into your centre, reminding you of your inner signal and the pilot light (your essence/ life force) within. The sound of a bow on a stringed bass may be resonant in your heart or a violin may stimulate your mind.
  • Utilizing tracks that create additional textures magnifies the ability to reach back to that track when needed…it makes the music more tactile in nature. Our body has an incredible ability to recall these moments, even if our brain does not. Adding in the textured music adds an additional layer for our bodies and minds to remember.
  • Working with Strong emotions/sensations:  If strong sensations come up, this is an excellent time to use your regulation practices (softening tension with breath, EFT/tapping, stretching, physical activity, the butterfly hug, dance, sigh etc.). Also notice what song is playing, approaching it with curiosity.
  • Use the RAIN framework(Brach, 2019):  The RAIN framework is an excellent reminder to recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture what comes up for tending and releasing.   
  • Notice specific tracks to mark a space in time during your journey. Come back to the tracks that move you: your mind may not remember, but your body will. If strong emotions arise during the track, take note and come back to it.

Start gentle with music that provides more inner comfort than felt chaos.  As you practice, you will be more able to allow strong sensations to come and go, trusting you have the inner and outer resources (security and regulating tools) to navigate whatever arises.  

Examples of different tracks that may pull you more into your body:

Garth plays a double stringed bass, which is felt in the heart region when played at the right volume
Feelings by Solar Fields mixes in different sounds to add a comfortable level of chaos to the mix. They also bring in a deep kick drum at around 3 1/2 minute to the track. This beat can be grounding within the chaos
4am adds different layers of texture, creating almost a tactile feel to the track
Similar to 4am above, I’m 9 Today adds layers of texture, unique composition of instruments and a playful tone

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