Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Healing Power of Music

"Nothing activates the brain as extensively as music." - Oliver Sacks, MD

In yesterday's post I shared with you how the soundtrack of my life with the music of Broadway and Carole King opened up the door to wonderful childhood memories that trump the memories of trauma and pain from my childhood. Music has a wonderful way of evoking memories, emotions, transporting us to other times and places, fueling us for a grueling workout or an intense run and making the marathon of life so much more enjoyable. I choose a song a day to accompany my plank and the music and the lyrics strengthen me. Couples have "our song".

Back in 2011, I watched a NOVA special, "A Mind for Music," presented by Dr. Oliver Sacks. You may know him best through the movie, "Awakenings" with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. In A Mind for Music Dr. Sacks undergoes MRI as different kinds of music are played. The music that he loved as a child lit up different parts of his brain. When music that did not have an emotional connection for him was played, it did not have an effect on the imaging.

Music can heal not only our hearts and souls but also our brains. There was an ABC News Story with Diane Sawyer and Bob Woodruff sharing how after Gabby Giffords' brain injury from a gunshot wound, she was able to access language through music therapy. Music therapy helped to rewire her brain.

I had a soundtrack for healing when I was going through intensive outpatient treatment through Spaulding Rehab and one of those songs was Dancing Through Life from Wicked. It uplifted me, gave me hope and helped me to realize that no matter the outcome, I would be able to experience joy and love and find a way to be dancing through life.

I listen to A Chorus Line and imagine myself dancing again. Rocky and Chariots of Fire bring out my marathon runner and I create a playlist to entertain me when I cross train on the stationery bike as I rehab my knee injury. Kate, the Aqautics Therapy aide at Spaulding creates a playlist to keep us moving each week. Last Wednesday she created a 70's disco playlist and compiled a list of oldies but goodies as the soundtrack to our Tuesday morning Joint Integrity Class.

As Oliver Sacks said, "Nothing activates the brain as extensively as music." I would add that nothing heals like the power of music.

Journey well!

"Journey Well" and all of my inspirational books are available on Amazon.

"Journey Well" is a book about resilience, strength, courage and how we are able to journey well no matter what conditions life hands to us. I profile the people who are Boston Stronger and share how 4/15/13 was a wake up call to me to return to my healing path from contracting paralytic polio at age 5 and 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent.

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