Does music resonate with our spiritual nature? Most of us have had the experience of listening to a piece of music and finding that it triggers an emotional response. It might be that the melody and lyrics are bright and uplifting, or it might be that a sorrowful song reminds you of a specific incident in your life. Indeed, after an emotional trauma, some of us find particular songs too much to listen to and we actively avoid them. It’s well documented that the music we listen to can have an impact or resonance with our emotional and physical centres – but does it have an effect on our spiritual nature?
Our musical back-catalogue
It’s widely recognised that our spiritual natures are profoundly influenced by everything we experience around us. The world, in all its aspects, is a set of stimuli that our subconscious minds record, analyse and respond to. Some of that behaviour becomes conditioned, and our back catalogue of experiences gives us the ability to respond instinctively to certain stimuli, without giving it a second thought. Music is one of the stimuli that surrounds us and, as we are repeatedly exposed to us, it can shape our spiritual nature and guide our spiritual intent. It can sculpt our impressions of the environment in which we live, the people around us and even what we think of ourselves.
While the ‘nature or nurture’ argument will always be debated, there is room enough to consider that both play an important part in deciding who we will become. It may appear at birth that we are effectively blank canvases, devoid of intent and guile, just soaking up what is thrown our way. However, there is enough research to seriously support the idea that certain aspects of our being are pre-programmed, as the result of our genetic history. We may have a disposition towards certain behaviour, such as being sporty, academic or more negative traits such as a tendency towards aggression or substance abuse.
Yet, while these factors may rear their heads, the more destructive sides of our natures can be ‘unlearned’. Just because we are born with them, it doesn’t mean we have to accept them – alcoholics are capable of reform and couch potatoes are capable of getting into the gym. It might take more effort than for someone who is predisposed to that sort of activity, but it can be done. Ultimately, we have the free will to decide how we want to live our lives.
An impactive environmental factor
The nurture aspect is a slightly more complicated one. Research into the effects of music on our bodies is fairly extensive and has drawn some fascinating conclusions – particularly that the kind of music we listen to can have an actual, physical affect on us. Italian research has found that listening to Celtic, classical or Indian Raga music for half an hour a day can significantly reduce blood pressure. Researchers in Finland have found that stroke victims who listened to music for at least two hours a day recovered their memories at a faster rate than those who didn’t. English research has revealed that music can reduce the pain experienced from diseases such as rheumatoid osteoarthritis by as much as 20%. In addition, researchers found that depression could be alleviated by as much as 25%, depending on the what sort of music was listened to. In short, music can be a very important and impactive environmental factor in our existence.
What does music communicate?
We know that the type of stimuli we are exposed to can have an effect on the way we develop. If a child is constantly praised, he will probably develop a confident and optimistic outlook. Conversely, a child that is repeatedly told that it is unworthy and destined to fail will likely become underconfident and pessimistic. The stimuli we are exposed to become part of our normality and can alter the perception we have of our potential, our worth and colour the way we see the rest of the world.
Music is the expression of a thought, emotion or concept and, in most cases, all three at once. In composing a piece of music, a musician is translating his emotional processes into sound; each note and lyric is part of an aural painting of their spiritual nature. Lyrics convey the intellectual or conceptual aspect of their personality, but it’s the music in which their emotional and spiritual natures are revealed. Each chord change is reflective of the way they see the world and as a result of the stimuli to which they have been exposed to throughout their lives.
Listening for the greater good
As a listener, we can find ourselves struck by how a piece of music can make us react. It can make us happy, sad, angry and even at peace. In this way, we can see that our spiritual natures are resonating with and reacting to the spiritual clues that are contained within a piece of music; that we are making a spiritual connection with the sounds that we are hearing.
In many ways, it can be likened to receiving a psychic message; we may not be aware of it in an intellectual capacity, but on a deeper level. In some ways, it can be of benefit for us to actively consider what we listen to. If we’re feeling spiritually drained, something uplifting and inspiring might be good for the iPod or, if we’re feeling anxious, then something soothing and calming would be the thing to listen to.
Lyrics are also an important aspect of music and, whether we learn the lyrics to a song or not, our subconscious minds absorb and process those words. Lyrics that paint the world as a dark and oppressive place can, if that’s the only kind we listen to, taint our perspective and make us see the world as a threatening place. Lyrics that speak of love and happiness can lift us spiritually and help us to embrace what is to come. There is room on our personal canvases to listen to all kinds of music but, ultimately, if we want to change ourselves for the better, we should try and listen to music that is honest and somehow encourages us to see the good in everything. As a result, we can come to a greater appreciation of the good within ourselves.