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The Healing Energies of Music
By Hal A. Lingerman
Theosophical Publishing HouseCopyright © 1995 Hal A. Lingerman
All rights reserved.
Music and You—A Closer Relationship
Each time we listen to beautiful music, we select an impression to weave into the harmony of our unfoldment.
FLOWER A. NEWHOUSE
It seems to me that, above all, music must stir the heart.
C. P. E. BACH
How deeply do you feel music? How much of yourself do you give? The more you can give of yourself to the music you are experiencing, the more vibrations of power will sound through you. If you come to great music with an open heart, a willing mind, and a relaxed body, it will enter you and renew you. Great music brings healing streams and electrical chargings, but these cannot enter and revitalize you as deeply if you are distracted, tense and resistant, critical, impatient, ungrateful, or poorly prepared.
If our attunement is faulty and we are scattered, we sometimes miss the finest things in life. A poet has written, "The Angels come to visit us, and we know them only after they are gone." If you take time to prepare yourself beforehand for your music, it will play through you, not just around you. You will receive the full power and beauty of great music by learning better how to relax and link with the melodies you are hearing.
Take a comfortable position, either sitting in your favorite chair or lying on the floor. If you are outside, lie down on the grass or relax against a favorite tree. Use these ten keys for a more meaningful musical experience.
BEFORE BEGINNING THE MUSIC
1. Come to quiet for a minute. Speak to your body; tell any tense areas to relax. Speak to your feelings; tell them to be calm. Speak to your mind; let go of racing thoughts.
Realize the Divine Presence in whom you are listening. You might want to use an affirmation or verse to center yourself, such as "Be still and know that I am God." Keep this exercise short, simple, and enjoyable.
2. Be grateful for the music you are about to experience. Say, "Thank you." Be expectant!
3. Surrender to the music. Try to open yourself to the music you hear.
WHILE THE MUSIC IS PLAYING
4. Release all tensions into the music. Feel the music pulling you out of all negativity and tension. Wherever there is a block in yourself, visualize an opening. Breathe deeply, taking in the music. Let go completely.
5. Feel the music embracing and filling you. Release all need to dominate or control the situation. Open to the healing, revitalizing currents of melody that are entering you. Go inside the sound.
6. Give yourself to the music. Enjoy the music wherever it takes you. Let surprises happen.
7. Be filled with joy and praise. Move into mystery!
8. Do not play music for too long at one time.
WHEN THE MUSIC IS OVER
9. Take time to absorb the music. Sit quietly for a few minutes after it has finished.
10. When appropriate, combine experiencing music with other activity, such as keeping a diary, sketching, dancing or moving, or doing chores such as housework, cooking, or working in the shop. Even before you hear the first note, it matters greatly where you hear the music. Is the setting beautiful?
Take the time to cultivate the most advantageous surroundings for your musical experiences. Here are four suggestions to help you:
— Experience music in a beautiful place. Avoid clutter, heaviness, ugliness, and darkness. Clear the atmosphere, heighten colors, and seek light.
— Play your music in a quiet place. Minimize outer noise and distractions. Turn off the TV, avoid loud hums of electrical appliances. Let your music emerge out of quiet, or listen to music in nature. Be sensitive to the sounds of nature—bird calls, rain, woods, streams, wind, ocean—as these combine with musical melodies to uplift you and link you with the Eternal. Find the particular volume that is best for you. Avoid overkill.
— Buy good equipment. Find a stereo or sound system with speakers that play music with a clear tone and minimal distortion. Choose your equipment carefully and patiently, after hearing some of your favorite recordings played on it. Trust your own ear. Explore many different speaker systems before deciding. Do not buy, necessarily, according to brand name or advertising.
— Take good care of your system, CDs, tapes, and recordings. Avoid excess heat. Touch your CDs only around the edges, never on the top or bottom surfaces. Before original tapes stretch or tear, copy them for your own use on quality blanks. Clean your records when they are dusty. Do not stack your records. Play one record at a time. Clean the tape heads regularly and remove dust from needles, carefully.
For increased therapeutic value, try not to be too critical of the music you are experiencing. If you are too fussy a listener, you will not soar. The quality of performances and pressings varies. Find recordings you can live with and love them unconditionally for all they have to offer. Emphasize the treasures of the music, not the defects. Listen behind the notes for the overtones, the larger melodies, and the archetypes that the composer may have "heard" and partially brought through. Move into the silences between the notes. Such an attitude of openness and gratitude will expand the range and depth of the musical experiences that come to you. In an atmosphere of joyful acceptance, the healing vibrations of great music can more easily find entrance into you and will bring you the greatest possible enjoyment and upliftment.
Discover the great golden moments in music and arrange them into healing and beneficial sequences that will meet your various needs. Arrange your favorite selections into a healing continuum that sustains you and lifts your consciousness. Use the lists through this book and the further suggestions in the Appendixes to help you find just the right music for you.
From thorough scientific research, Dr. John Diamond and others have found that many early digital recordings are not as "warm" or as therapeutic as the original recordings. I have no proof of this myself, but I still often prefer older recordings, which now in many cases have been beautifully remastered on CD. I believe that each recording is unique. You may feel some recordings are more powerful than others, yet in certain cases, even though the sound may be less clear, warm, or immediate, this particular version "speaks to you." Keep listening, remain receptive to new impressions, and try to hear all the music that you can discover. Every musical masterpiece remains vast and potentially ever new.CHAPTER 2
Music for Better Health and Well-Being
The only correct music is that which is beautiful and noble.
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
1 COR. 14:15
While the greatest pieces of music will energize and inspire all levels of your being, there are musical works that may appeal more specifically to certain parts of your make-up. Some music affects primarily your physical body. Such compositions activate you and make you feel stronger and more powerful in your movements; other pieces might make you want to move more rapidly, perhaps through dancing, house cleaning, painting, or even typing (I remember learning to type as a teenager to The Blue Danube Waltz, which the teacher played frequently). Music with strong, regular rhythms tends to activate the body, while also coordinating and focusing the mind.
Other selections will affect your feelings-emotions more. Perhaps a certain tune or song will make you cry, while another will bring out greater devotion, joy, sadness, or even anger. The music of such Romantics as Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninov is often very moving emotionally.
Another selection of music will appeal mostly to your mind, inspiring you with new ideas, seed thoughts for new possibilities, and creativity. The music of the Baroque is structured and seems to be especially effective for a listener who wishes to study, organize ideas, or focus on goals.
Finally, there are those pieces of music that penetrate through all your outer layers. This kind of music speaks directly to your heart and soul, reminding you of your wholeness, divine connection and highest selfhood in God. The early celestial music of Palestrina, Tallis, Taverner, Victoria, J. S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, especially as played by Rosalyn Tureck, and Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis can open deeper soul contact and deepen aspirations toward divinity.
Different instruments also affect particular parts of your make-up. Melodic music, played by certain solo instruments and chamber ensembles, may be quieting. Music such as Mendelssohn's Songs without Words, a Mozart sonata, or a Schubert quartet, especially when heard late at night, is more soothing than a great symphony, replete with the potencies of full orchestral sound. Play symphonies, concertos, cantatas, and similar larger works when you want a stronger, more demanding and invigorating blast of musical sound. Cultivate lovely chamber music and small-scaled, "cameo" selections of string music for intimate, quiet times, when you desire a more calming influence. Here are some general guidelines to follow in choosing instruments to best suit your goals:
1. Physical Body—brass, percussion (drums), heavy bass notes; electronic music and amplified sounds.
2. Emotional Body—woodwinds and strings.
3. Mental Body—strings.
4. Soul Body—high strings, harp, bells, and organ (very powerful and stimulating to all the bodies); wind chimes; high strings.
Seek out the kind of music you need to balance and awaken all of you. Discover the times and sequences in which musical selections are most appropriate.
Keep a journal of musical experiences and specific pieces and how they inspire you or make you feel. List any imagery or empowerments that might come through to you from hearing pieces of music.
MUSIC FOR THE PHYSICAL BODY
The physical body is the earthly temple for the soul. It is important to love and care for your physical body in every possible way. As you would seek to feed, clothe, clean, exercise, and rest your body wisely, so can you wisely select and use music to bathe, purify, and energize your physical vehicle. Observe what kinds of sounds irritate or frighten you; feel what music is either good for you (life-enhancing) or harmful (depleting).
Use musical selections to pierce through physical inertia and lumpiness. (I find that Beethoven's music, especially the Emperor Concerto, often motivates people, gives them courage, and strengthens the willpower.) Use other musical favorites to sound through hyperactivity and tension, thus relaxing your nerves and muscles.
If your physical body needs energizing, play music with stronger rhythms and more powerful contrasts, such as marches and peppy tunes. Instrumentally, choose music for piano, or feel the stronger sounds of brass and percussion (listen especially to the beautiful Venetian brass and choral music of Gabrieli or to the stirring sonatas of the Slavic composer, Vejvanovsky). Pieces for trumpets, horns, tubas, saxhorns, trombones, timpani, cymbals, and gongs are very powerful. They will ground you very quickly, if you feel you are too lethargic or spaced out. F. J. Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E-flat, as interpreted by Håkan Hardenberger (Philips 420203-2) and Mozart's horn concertos are outstanding examples of stirring music.
However, be careful not to play this kind of music too much, too long, or too loudly. If you overexpose yourself to the powerful sounds of bass or percussion, even if such sounds are melodious, you may shock and exhaust yourself very quickly.
Big moments in music always build up from quietness; mighty Crescendos emerge out of silence. The great artist and composer Pablo Casals said that all musical masterpieces are created from the resolution between tension and release. Although we may seek peace and tranquility, such states must be earned. Music that achieves harmony from a dynamic reconciliation of opposites will make you feel strong and victorious. Your body will feel better each time you experience music that harmonizes the emotional conflicts and dissonances of life with a new musical solution.
Avoid continuous blasts of noise and chaos without melody. A horrendous, life-denying deluge of junk sounds will dehumanize you and eventually leave you with a hole in your soul. In the same way, avoid merely pleasant, linear music that leaves you feeling stale, dull, and equally unsatisfied. Choose life-enhancing, melodic music that expands your dreams and creative horizons and makes you feel that you are welcomed and included meaningfully in the cosmic dance of life. Beautiful music is that which makes you feel more caring and affirmative, more glad to be alive, more connected to the totality.
Marches. Many marches and their rhythms are composed for orchestra or brass band. They provide a healthy stimulus to your physical body. Marches pierce through inertia and lethargy. They call you to attention and focus you, stirring and directing you to clarify your goals and take decisive action. In a larger way, some marches promote greater cooperation and fellow-feeling; they inspire and motivate. Marches can awaken loyalty and often serve as a powerful medicine for combating an enemy, either external or within oneself. I also think here of the empowering qualities of many Native American dances and pow-wow music, now available. Here are some suggestions for marches that will inspire and activate your physical body. See the appendix for label numbers and more suggestions.
Pomp and Circumstance no. 1 by Sir Edward Elgar (Philips 6502001): This great, ennobling piece of music (and the other marches in this series) is vivid and very powerful. It lifts you in every area of your being, not just the physical body. It will stir you with energy and desire for group mobilization to achieve common purposes and goals. If played at a memorial service, it will scatter sorrow and depression, making those present feel the value of time and earthly opportunity still available to them.
Powerful chords of melody, like beacons of white light, sound through this music, charging and filling your body with renewed energy. It is a thrilling experience to see and feel the power of unity that occurs each year in London at the last night of the Proms, when many thousands of people sing this tune together to the words of Land of Hope and Glory. Helene Nagel, a poet and mystic, has written a hymn to the angels to be sung to Elgar's melody:
Angels of Glory
Angels of Glory, Angels of Prayer,
Angels of Worship, may we be aware
Of octaves of beauty, of forms of light,
Of streams of color, beyond earthly sight,
As chanting His praises, we do honor the Christ.
Angels of cleansing, Angels of Fire,
Watching over the altar, hear our holy desire;
In rivers of spirit, washed clean and pure,
We bring our whole being; may that only endure
Which in adoration kneels to honor the Christ.
Angels of Music, Angels of Song,
In joyous procession our spirits do long
To echo thy chorus, our glad voices raise
To the gateway of glory, great anthems of praise,
As chanting His splendor, we do honor the Christ.
Angels of Healing, Angels of Love,
The streams of God's mercy pour down from above,
Touching deeply each soul who sends forth a prayer,
For lifting of burdens, for healing of cares,
As chanting His goodness, we do honor the Christ.
Angels of Power, Warriors of Light,
Who vanquish the darkness and strengthen the right,
Gird us with the armor of the Holy Word;
With the shield of spirit, let our voices be heard,
As chanting His power we do honor the Christ.
When you listen to Pomp and Circumstance, envision the purity of white light filling you with galvanizing power to build and work for the good. One listener, who tuned into this melody in her own way, felt it to be like the chant of angel ordination, emanating from the heavens and empowering whoever hums or sings it.
Several years ago, as I played this marchlike music of Elgar in a nursing home, where I was offering a music therapy class, I noticed several patients in wheelchairs. They had been sitting with heads bowed and bodies inert, almost catatonic. Suddenly they stirred in their seats. They looked up with eyes opening wide. As the climax of energy came through the music, I saw that many persons in the room were smiling, humming along, and keeping time with their hands and feet. The entire atmosphere was changed. The nurses smiled at each other, the spirits of the patients were uplifted, and for some time afterwards their conversations became more animated. Their faces looked less aimless and more focused. One woman said to me, "Boy, that piece really made me feel powerful again."
Triumphal March (from Aida) by Giuseppe Verdi (Solti — London 430226): This dramatic march with its accompanying, exultant chorus brings in great strength and power. It lifts the emotions as well as the body. Its festivity rises to disperse all heaviness. Notice the strong melody throughout and the blaze of trumpets that lifts you. Strong rhythms are often repeated in the melody. These accents kindle stronger purpose and constancy in the listener. It reminds us that by facing a challenge bravely, it becomes possible to overcome it. As it is written to celebrate the victory of a returning army, so will it stir feelings of triumph in you.
Excerpted from The Healing Energies of Music by Hal A. Lingerman. Copyright © 1995 Hal A. Lingerman. Excerpted by permission of Theosophical Publishing House.
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