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How listening with intent can relieve anxiety and depression

by Bill Protzmann

There’s a reason we like music. It can be exciting or soothing. It can help us connect more deeply with our emotions, whatever they are. Whether at the seventh-inning stretch, in a Balinese ceremony, a mosh pit, or in the cry of a hawk, music — sound — has a unique and specific physiological impact on us.

Over more than 30 years of observing audiences from the piano my curiosity about music’s effect on folks who listen has become something of a project. The volume of research into music and healing has increased dramatically over the last ten years, and I will be sharing some of the recent medical studies with you in this newsletter. Most recently, I’ve been teaching short seminars based on my research. (Click on my nearby photo to launch my FaceBook fan page, where you can see a brief clip from one of them!

Last July I met a decorated VietNam veteran — a Native American and County Veterans Services Officer — who told me his story of dealing with war-related post-traumatic stress. For thirty years — 1979 until 2009 — all he could do to relieve his symptoms was lie on the floor for 30 minutes a day with the headphones on listening to music he loves. After 30 years, he finally sought professional treatment. Maintaining a lifestyle that works for 30 years is solid testimony to the power of music.

Here’s the bottom line: if you take some time, say, 10 minutes regularly (whatever that means for you) to do nothing but put on the headphones (I prefer the over-the-ear kind because they won’t damage your eardrums like the ear buds do) and listen to some music you love, I promise it will change you. Yes: change you. Why? Because you can’t help it, physiologically speaking. Set your intention to simply listen…and if thoughts come wandering into your listening presence, just be OK with that. Let me know how it goes!