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PUBLIC PAGE
Dec 2, 2019

Music Facilitates Healing

By Megan Roessler M. Ed., @meganroessler

shutterstock_723745729Article contributed by Erin Haefner

Music is a universal and beautiful thing. Some use music as background noise on their morning commute, some like to use it as a motivational tool while they exercise, and some study it, wanting to learn how it works. Music can also be used as a healing tool because it connects us with our emotions, and helps us reduce the stress of everyday life.

But how can music help those with cancer? Listening and/or playing music can be calming and relaxing. Music helps us express and communicate our emotions in a safe way to help us find peace, comfort, and closure. Specifically with cancer, it can help reduce anxiety. In my personal experience, I tend to be stressed a lot of the time. However, whenever I listen to one of my favorite pieces of music, I realize that what I need in moments of high stress and anxiety was to slow my mind down, and purely listen to the music being made before me.

Here are some ideas on how to use music as a coping mechanism:

  • Listen to a favorite song and think about why it means so much to you.
  • Watch a video online of an instrument you have always wanted to learn more about.
  • Check out some events put on by Mayo’s Center for Humanities in Medicine.
  • Play an instrument or bang on a drum, this will create a sense of control, as the player controls tempo, sound, and mood through their playing.
  • Ask your physician or primary care provider about Mayo’s Arts at the Bedside

On a personal note, music can also help find closure and peace after a death. Music has always been a very special part of my life. I have always been drawn to the way it has a huge emotional grip on me, and moves me to tears in many ways. I knew I was meant to be a music major when I went to my college’s Christmas concert when I was in high school. Each year, Luther College puts on a program called “Christmas at Luther.” In this concert, all five choirs perform, as well as the Symphony Orchestra. In addition to each ensemble performing two pieces, everyone participates in a few “mass pieces,” which are pieces everyone sings and plays on. The second to last mass piece of the concert is always a candle-lit piece. The only light in the entire auditorium is each choir member holding a candle. When I was a senior in high school, I went to the Christmas at Luther concert that year. The candle-lit piece was “The First Nowell,” which also happens to be my favorite Christmas carol. I am not sure whether or not it was the wonderful arrangement of the piece or the candles everyone was holding, but I couldn’t stop crying. I was so moved by the singing and the orchestra that I was a mess of tears. It was in that moment that I decided to become a music major, and study at Luther College. This past year’s Christmas at Luther, my choir sang a piece called “In This Place.” (Listen to the composer’s recording here). The lyrics to this piece are,

“In this place, I have been made new. I have been gifted jewels beyond price. In this place, greater dreams are given. I am made everlasting. In this place, I am light. In this place, in your sight. I am made everlasting. In your love, starting and ending. I will be carried softly to heaven. In your love, I am given beauty. I am made everlasting. You give the strength for me to hold. You are the hope that shines like gold. In this place, I am new. In your love, I am true. I will fly with angels to this place and be made everlasting. In this place, I have been made new.”

This piece is about death and dying. The lyrics embody a spirit going to a better place, where they can live again and thrive. The first time I listened to my choir’s rendition of the piece was the day we had to put my dog to sleep. By listening to this piece over and over again, letting the tears come and the emotion fall out of me, I was able to find closure and peace after a death.

Here is a good album of pieces to listen to about finding comfort and peace.  What songs bring you comfort and peace this time of year?

Talk with others about how music is healing for you in the Music Helps Me discussion on Mayo Clinic Connect.

@meganroessler Very nice! It got me thinking about music-it would be so much better than politics! Thank you

COMMENT

@meganroessler Thank you for this newsfeed post. I have always found music to be something that speaks to my soul in times of need. From a very young age I have been a singer, either in groups or solo. I lose myself in the feelings the notes evoke in me. Listening to music, there is not a single song that brings me peace at this time of year, but I do recall a childhood friend singing Ave Maria for my mother's funeral in 1996, acapella. It was breathtaking. She and I used to sing duets as youngsters.
Ginger

COMMENT

Music is an emotional outlet for me. Everything about it brings me to tears—be it the beauty, a memory, the words, all parts of it just touches me so very deeply!

Liked by Jennifer Hunter

COMMENT
@gingerw

@meganroessler Thank you for this newsfeed post. I have always found music to be something that speaks to my soul in times of need. From a very young age I have been a singer, either in groups or solo. I lose myself in the feelings the notes evoke in me. Listening to music, there is not a single song that brings me peace at this time of year, but I do recall a childhood friend singing Ave Maria for my mother's funeral in 1996, acapella. It was breathtaking. She and I used to sing duets as youngsters.
Ginger

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I, too, have been often and deeply affected by certain pieces of music. One such favorite that always brings me to tears is Handel's "Worthy Is the Lamb," the ending chorale of his "Messiah." There are many others such as "Goin' Home." Sometimes, upon awakening, a particular hymn will be "playing" in my mind.

Music has been called "the language of the soul."

There were many times, after a chemo session, that I could only curl up in my chair and silently cry, and in my mind, I laid my head against His breast begging, "Please hold me." I imagined I was the lost sheep He was carrying back to His fold. Sometimes I was too weak to even cry, and all I could do was whisper His Name. (I have a wall hanging of the Good Shepherd carrying his newly found lamb. It hangs close to my favorite chair.)

Each of us can hear and speak the language of our souls, I believe. It is a gift from our Maker.

Yes, sometimes I raged at Him in my sickness and pain. But He understood and didn't rage back at me. He just held me. He was my "good Shepherd."

Still is, eight years later post stage 3C cancer.

Miraclegirl

COMMENT
@fawna

Music is an emotional outlet for me. Everything about it brings me to tears—be it the beauty, a memory, the words, all parts of it just touches me so very deeply!

Jump to this post

Hi @fawna, so true. Are you a cancer survivor, caregiver or neither? Would like to get to know more about you.

COMMENT

Music has been very healing for me. I was a caregiver to my parents while my dad was dying of heart failure and there was nothing that could be done to change the course of the disease. I stayed at their house and had to keep my emotions inside myself so I could be a caregiver to them, but at night, I would lay awake and started listening to music to help me cope. There was a song that was really speaking to me and I would listen to over and over and let the tears fall. That song became part of a video I put together about my dad that was used for his memorial service. During the song there was a series of images of my dad from birth until the end that was quite moving. It's important to feel the connections that the music makes and let the tears out. Everyone cried at my dad's service after that, and then there were hugs all around the room. That was really beautiful. The song was "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" written by Sandy Denny. That song is enough for me to get lost in and just feel the connections of losses and love.

Liked by Lisa Lucier

COMMENT

Thank you, Jennifer, for pointing us to "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" I just listened to it for the first time. Many, many thanks! WOW!

COMMENT
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