The power of music

While writing this article, I am enjoying the relaxing tones of some Disney piano music – I am humming along and feel content – despite having to work, I feel at ease. These tunes are my go-to for when I need to get my head down, conquer some work or even some uninspiring life admin. 

This style of music somehow spurs me on and keeps me focused on the task at hand. How does it do this? Well, it has something to do with the tinkling, twinkling sound of the piano keys which puts my mind in a form of trance, thus allowing my mind to remain focused on what I need to achieve. I hear you – doesn’t this all sound very similar to the process of hypnotherapy? Yes, it does! 

Hypnotherapy is a trance-like state, that relaxes the mind to allow an individual to take onboard new, alternative suggestions to bring about a positive outcome. So, if music can bring about a hypnotic trance, I wonder what else it can do? Read on to discover more marvels of music and how music could help you. 

The psychology of music

As I have discovered for myself, music can inspire and focus the mind, however as I suspected, music has a lot more to offer. Research has suggested that music has powerful psychological effects that can improve your health and wellbeing – which as the saying goes ‘is music to my ears!’

Music can have a beneficial effect on our brain chemicals – one, in particular, dopamine. When we listen to music, the feel-good chemical dopamine is released from our brain. Dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure, and increased levels of oxytocin, the so-called ‘love hormone’. Researchers from McGill University discovered that dopamine was up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed. This is strong evidence to support the link between music and mental wellbeing. 

Music has also been suggested to help lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. A study conducted in 2013 discovered that participants who had listened to relaxing music before being exposed to a stressor tended to recover more quickly than those participants who had listened to the sound of rippling water or received no auditory experience at all. This study supports the trend that meditative music is created to soothe the mind and induce relaxation – just like hypnosis. 

How music impacts our mood

Music can influence your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. I am sure you can remember a time when you have listened to your favourite tune and danced around the room like no one was watching, or perhaps you have listened to a song that has been able to move you to tears. Music can impact our mood, which in turn can even inspire our actions. As a result of recent research, demonstrating the psychological power of music, music therapy has become a widely used treatment to help promote emotional health and wellbeing in individuals. Music therapy can help an individual cope with stress, the therapy can boost an individual’s psychological wellbeing and it can also aid in cases of depression and anxiety

We can regulate our mood by listening to our favourite tunes. Because of music’s rhythmic and repetitive tones, music engages the neocortex of our brain, which calms us, preventing potentially regretful impulsive actions. Individuals usually listen to music to either match their mood, or to alter their mood. If the mood we are in is a positive and beneficial one, then matching music to this type of mood can help to sustain and maintain these natural highs. However, it should be noted here that music can potentially keep an individual stuck in an unhelpful, depressive and/or angry mood. When this occurs, music can be used to slowly shift an individual to a more positive and calm state by being gradually introduced to music with similar calming mood attributes – music therapists often use this technique with clients suffering from low mood.  

Music and hypnotherapy

Music has been described as an effective type of hypnosis. As I mentioned earlier, when I listen to my Disney piano playlist, I am transported into a trance that helps to keep me focused. Just like in hypnotherapy, music provides the subconscious with suggestions. Hypnosis can co-exist alongside background music and good hypnosis music will contain harmonic progressions and rhythms that simply suggest the client should relax. This eases their subconscious mind, preparing them for the suggestions to come. The music itself acts as a kind of indirect suggestion to the client, helping them experience a deeper state of awareness.

Music carries memories for everyone, good and bad. I bet you can all remember the ‘Jaws’ theme music, with feelings of tension and fear being associated with the memory of this tune. However, perhaps the National Anthem reminds you of a time when you have felt proud and patriotic. As a hypnotherapist, it is very important to liaise with your client first before introducing any music – you don’t want to play a piece of music that may hinder their ability to relax. 

Lastly, music can help a client to retrieve memories from the past and remind them of how they were feeling, what they were doing and who they were with. Therefore, the lyrics of a song or a specific beat may be helpful in a situation where the client is struggling to recall a past event or experience.

Are you ready to make a change? Connect with a hypnotherapist today. We have over 1,800 therapists listed with us, located all over the UK and online.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with an insight into the wonderful world of music and how you can use it to feel upbeat and eliminate feelings of stress. 

Going forward, remember to:

  • Never be afraid to turn the music up when your energy is high.
  • Use acoustic harmonies to slow your thoughts down.
  • Re-live memories by dusting off that CD case from years ago and working through any difficult memories with a therapist.
  • Embrace the beat! 

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Written by Cat Randall
Cat Randall is a freelance writer and newly qualified hypnotherapist.
Written by Cat Randall
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