What Role Does Music Play In Your Spiritual Life

Music and spirituality are two mediums that are frequently – almost universally – combined in cultures around the world with the goal of improving heavenly involvement. Music is employed in spiritual practices to enhance the transpersonal aspects of worship, meditation, and ritual. Similarly, musical experiences are blended with spiritually-based ideas and practices to present individuals with unique opportunities to connect with themselves and others.

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This natural, reciprocal flow from music to spirituality may come as no surprise to many: both are pliable mediums that respond to the people who interact with them and the circumstances in which they interact. Amazing Grace, for example, might be led with a greater volume, increased pressure, and heightened resonance at a funeral in a church with a big crowd to match the congregation's intensity as they worship via singing. Amazing Grace, on the other hand, may have quieter, more spiritual elements when performed bedside in a hospital room with a patient and caretakers, with the intention of comfortingly holding the patient in their drained physical state and engendering close musical bonding.

As music and spirituality become more entwined, the line between the two blurs to the point that it's difficult to tell one from the other. Spirituality necessitates musicality, and musicality necessitates spirituality.

Individuals' health journeys have a similar degree of malleability. Objective health qualities, such as symptom acuity/chronicity, therapy dosage and frequency, and curative versus palliative outcomes, are subjectively experienced in relation to a person's values, morality, and illness trajectory. For example, one person's 6 out of 10 pain may be their daily baseline and thus manageable, whereas another's 6 out of 10 pain may be breakthrough and require treatment. Similarly, one person may value palliative care for its improved quality of life, while another may value curative therapies for their potential longer longevity.

Music, spirituality, and health all have dynamic, emerging features as a result of their cultural contexts. That is, the diverse cultures in which music, spirituality, and health are manifest have a direct influence on how they are perceived and engaged with. This raises a difficult but crucial question: if music, spirituality, and health are all complicated phenomena influenced by cultural influences, how do they interact when they come together in a single encounter?

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In hospice, board-certified music therapists routinely deal with this situation. With six months or fewer to live, hospice is a philosophy of care that prioritizes quality of life, putting essential health issues at the forefront with limited time to permit resolution and closure. Spirituality can be a valuable resource for patients and families who are dealing with the present while also planning for the future at this time. The specific faith traditions of the patient – not just an identified denomination, but the explicit experiences patients engaged in as part of their spiritual practice – determine the type of resource spirituality can become (e.g., comfort in ritual, strength from scripture, or peace through prayer/meditation/worship).

Music therapists evaluate each patient's faith traditions and, in conjunction with a comparable evaluation of the patient's musical traditions, create music experiences that assist patients become aware of and connect with their spiritually-based resources. These culturally informed clinical music methods weave music, spirituality, and health together in a way that gives patients control over how they die. However, recent discussions in the music therapy literature have tended to phrase spirituality in such a broad and generic way that it makes it difficult for music therapists to discover spiritually-based resources in their patients.

To address this gap, my co-author (Cathleen Flynn) and I just published a paper that looked into a particular culturally informed music, spiritual, and health intersection: music therapy for Christian patients and carers facing death. We constructed a theoretical model establishing music therapy as a psychospiritual ministry allowing patients and caregivers access to a faith-based resource – the Holy Spirit – that supports with transcendence as end-of-life transitions approached, using this junction as a foundation.

Transcendence is a movement beyond the ordinary, easily available sensations that define our day-to-day to experience the self and others in new ways that push beyond our known thresholds, which is a challenging term to pin down. That transcendence is vertical for Christian patients who are about to die, an upward trajectory that brings them closer to an union with the divine as they move beyond the corporeal. For Christian carers, transcendence takes the form of a horizontal path, bringing them closer to mortal support structures that help them cope with bereavement. The Holy Spirit, who acts as a bridge between the mortal and heavenly worlds, is the faith-based channel via which these various but related transcendences take place. From this vantage point, the music therapist takes on a ministerial role, creating dynamic music experiences that promote patient and caregiver transcendence by facilitating contacts with the Holy Spirit.

Such explicit framing is morally problematic. First, we do not claim that using a Christian perspective is the “only” or “right” approach to do music therapy in hospice; rather, we present this theoretical model as a general framework for conducting spiritual assessments of patients of other faiths and traditions. Second, this is a person-centered model in which any integration of Christian theology into music therapy processes is initiated by the patient rather than the music therapist; this is an important feature because it avoids the perception that music therapists are using their privilege to proselytize patients. Third, there are multiple paths for ethical and successful therapeutic support of Christian patients and families at the end of life, and this model is meant to be an exploratory avenue that unlocks a myriad of new portals for providing psychospiritual care.

As the baby boomer population ages, it will become increasingly vital for healthcare systems to be prepared to deliver comprehensive end-of-life care that considers mind, body, and spirit as equal partners in whole-person health. For many people, music and spirituality remain significant components of their daily lives, and studying many permutations of music, spirituality, and health intersections can be a valuable contribution to this search of the good death.

“Selective focus photo of brown guitar on white pillow” by Kari Shea is the featured image. Unsplash provides royalty-free images.

What does spiritual mean in music?

which blended African cultural legacy with slavery experiences, first during the transatlantic slave trade—the greatest and one of the most brutal forced migrations in recorded human history—and then for decades through the domestic slave trade. Spirituals include “sing songs,” “labor songs,” and “plantation songs,” all of which evolved into church blues and gospel songs. All of these subcategories of folk songs were referred to as “spirituals” in the nineteenth century. While they were frequently based on biblical stories, they also highlighted the tremendous sufferings faced by African Americans who were enslaved from the 17th century to the 1860s, with freedom primarily changing the character (but not the continuation) of slavery for many. The spirituals songcraft spawned a slew of new musical genres.

Can music be a spiritual experience?

Music can be a religious experience in and of itself for certain listeners. Others find that song and instrumentation, whether in the form of quiet chanting, invigorating gospel choruses, or biblically inspired musicals, enhance spiritual practice.

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Why music is divine?

The sound ‘OM,' which is the vibrating essence of God and the creative energy employed to bring the universe into existence, is used in Hindu teachings to describe the ‘Word.' Buddhists call this energy the ‘Primal Vibration,' teaching that it was divided into 12 tonal derivations, each of which gave rise to and corresponded to the 12 zodiac signs, the 12 months of the year, the 12 hours of the day (yang), the 12 hours of the night (Yin), and the 12 notes of the chromatic scale.

What is the significant of music?

Art and music are essential aspects of human life. Humanity and art can't exist without each other. We have a strong drive to create something, no matter how small or vast it may be. Sound contact is unavoidable, whether you're making it or enjoying it. People have long valued music in their lives, whether for listening pleasure, emotional response, performance, or creation. This is true of both classical and modern concert music. Both musics are quite valuable to our society; but, as we all know, the problem in this field is that it is rarely understood and hence underestimated. As a musician and artist, it is my obligation to teach others how to appreciate the art form in which I am completely immersed.

It goes without saying that classical or concert music is not a significant part of most people's lives in mainstream American culture. There are still stigmas, as well as government actions over the last two decades, that contribute to this (declining music education in schools on the local level, resistance to increased NEA funding and less visibility of the arts on the national level; let us hope that the Obama administration can start to reverse these trends). Many people still think classical music is exclusive for the wealthy, elderly, and well-educated. Others may feel self-conscious about attending classical music events because they believe they must act and dress in a certain manner in order to gain admission to the performance or recital hall. Furthermore, some television shows, ads, plays, books, influential people, and even musicians themselves, which remove musicians from general culture, amplify the pretentiousness and elitism displayed by some artists. While some of this is correct, as is the case with practically every stereotype, it is not totally correct. Because of the impact that concert music has on society, the majority of people determine that it is not “for them” because it has no meaning or value in their life. This is exacerbated by the previous administration's lack of enthusiasm for promoting and supporting the arts, whether through funding arts organizations or arts education. Now, the present administration gives us optimism, and we have seen signs of its devotion; nonetheless, our American society must think that classical/concert music has value and delight for everyone.

The most popular way to become involved with music is to listen to it or to attend a concert. Listening to music on a CD player at home, in the car, at work, or on an iPod may be a highly personal and gratifying experience. Music, as we all know, creates a mood and a vibe in lounges, bars, parties, and other social gatherings. Attending a concert is also unique in that it provides the thrill of hearing live artists while also presenting the sound as it was intended to be heard (if it is acoustic music that is). Where else can you sit with other people, listen to music, and enjoy it in (relative) silence with no other distractions but the music?

Music has the ability to invigorate the intellect as well. There are numerous things to listen to and pay attention to in music. The melodies or themes, the harmony, the driving or calm rhythms, the color of the sounds, the activity of the piece, how the sounds are produced, or how they all interact to one another can all be considered while trying to figure out how the composer envisaged the piece. Listening intently and attentively is a fantastic experience that helps one to become immersed in a strange soundscape.

Concert music is music that is both attractive to the ears and the mind, as well as nurturing to the soul. Music has long been known to elicit an emotional response. Music has varied degrees of characters that might alter one's mood. Music has the ability to lift someone's spirits, stimulate them, or soothe and rest them. Music also allows us to feel nearly or potentially all of the emotions we experience in our life, which is crucial. The options are limitless.

One of the best things about music in general, and especially concert music, is that it opens up a whole new world of experience that improves mental, physical, and expressive abilities. Music lovers who are also amateur musicians have the option of participating in community ensembles (orchestra, band, choir), taking classes, performing with others, composing, and virtually anything else a professional musician can do while living a regular life. All of this necessitates a high level of physical coordination when playing an instrument alone or with others, understanding musical notation, and making subtle or significant nuanced alterations to the music that only a performer can make. In general, music can provide a getaway from everyday life or an alternative manner of expressing one's own abilities to an amateur musician. It's a significant part of their lives, and it satisfies a want or need to make music.

Music is extremely valuable at all stages of education. As music improves students' minds, expressive abilities, and a variety of other attributes, they learn many vital and crucial life values. Learning to read music is similar to learning a new language that has abstract sound meaning. Not only must one be able to read and decipher distinct symbols on a page, but they must also be able to execute them correctly. Music students learn how to build a critical ear as well. One can practice, rehearse, analyze, and critique music performance with a critical ear. Furthermore, performing music entails both playing with people and playing alone, both of which demand specific skills. Studying and analyzing music, writing, reading about music, understanding the history of music and its relationship to historical and present trends, and knowing what to listen for in music are all excellent ways to learn. Students of music learn self-discipline, expression through sound, enhanced technical motor skills, further developed problem solving skills, learned how to cooperate and collaborate with others, and learned how to ignite the creative and critical mind whether they are in elementary, middle school, high school, collegiate level, or through self-study. Most essential, the learner will grasp that music provides all of these traits in addition to the pleasure of listening casually or attentively. These skills are taught to anybody who receives a music education, whether they are aware of it or not. People who do not pursue a profession in music but have studied it will be able to employ these talents in their daily lives and careers.

Arts and music are sometimes regarded as extracurricular activities that are not necessary to the functioning of our society and culture in mainstream American society; however, this appears to be changing. Arts and music fill a need in our society that we all need to improve ourselves and our culture; they provide alternate endless experiences, and they also strengthen the abilities we employ in other fields and vocations. Recently, shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “The Colbert Report” have featured references to living composers like Steve Reich or visitors from the jazz and classical worlds, bringing the arts into mainstream culture and capturing viewers' attention (Wynton Marsalis and Alex Ross). Viewers can learn to be critical of musical performances and share strong musical opinions just by watching “American Idol.” The YouTube Symphony Orchestra contest drew a lot of interest and received a lot of media coverage. Whether they realize it or not, our society is growing increasingly concerned with the arts. For far too long, the arts and classical music have been hidden from the public view, and now that they have been gradually revealed, there is a growing curiosity and even excitement about this world. Artists and others who are passionate about the arts and music must be aware of what is going on and continue to use various contemporary means to show the public what is being done in this world. The arts and music may be seen as a viable alternative to conventional entertainment. The greater the number of opportunities for people to develop their lives and minds, the better for any society. It is hoped that this tendency will lead to a day when classical and concert music find a home in mainstream life, allowing more people to benefit from what they have to offer.

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What is the relationship between music and spirituality?

Music and spirituality are inextricably linked, with spirituality frequently inspiring the creation of music and music frequently setting the mood for spiritual events.

While spirituality is not always experienced through religion, many people utilize religion to channel their daily spirituality. The items chosen here help to illustrate the connection between music and many of the world's major faiths.

How does music affect your soul?

Listening to music that is appropriate for your mood can also aid in the release of emotional tension. Listening to sad music while you're unhappy might help you feel understood and connected to other people on a deeper level, which can help you feel relieved and cathartic.

How does music connect us to God?

Music has a way of penetrating the deepest recesses of our souls, assisting us in expressing and responding to God and the church. Singing brings us closer together in the church. The gospel is the only thing that binds believers together. Music, on the other hand, is a tool that allows us to do so.