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NATURAL HIGHS OF CHILL: MUSIC: WHY IT'S GOOD

Music is potent stuff. It has an immediate effect on how we feel, and can evoke those feelings years later when we hear a certain melody from a significant moment in our lives. Moreover, musicians the world over have discovered certain beats, tones and melodies that can instantly relax and destress you. Using music consciously in this way is a highly effective way of altering mood and helping you chill out. Here's how.

We are much more than flesh and bone. Whatever aspect of being human you look at - physical, chemical, mental or emotional - everything boils down to energy. Physicists tell us, for example, that all matter is nothing but particles of energy in a certain vibration. When we talk about alpha waves or beta waves to describe the brain's electromagnetic activity, we are talking about pulses of energy at a certain vibration. This is what music is - energy at a particular vibration. And sounds and rhythms can harmonise with our own field of energy. This is why the right music can have an immediate effect on your state of mind and emotions.

It's energising

Certain sounds energise us. After all, sound is energy, so each piece of music you listen to literally gives you energy. Dr Alfred Tomatis, now famous for his work with sound and methods of listening to improve learning, found that the higher frequency sounds contain more information and give you more energy.

Improved mood

When you think that the body is 66 per cent water and that sound sends 'ripples' through water, then it is obvious that all the fluids in the body will respond to sound - not only 'external' sounds such as music, but also the sound of your own voice. This is why music and singing has an immediate effect on your emotions. The major keys evoke a positive mood and are generally best for chilling out. Minor keys are more likely to evoke sadness.

Changes in your heartbeat

The rhythm of music has a direct effect on your heartbeat. Dance music uses this to get you excited. Most calming music has around 60 beats a second and 'trains' your heartbeat to harmonise with this rhythm. As your heartbeat slows down, it helps to bring you into a relaxed state.

Healing

Music is used in some hospitals and during operations for its relaxing and healing properties. Music with a rhythm that more or less matches your heartbeat helps to 'train' the heart to beat at a slow and regular pace. Vivaldi, for example, is played at 60 beats a minute.

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