imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

‘Soothe that savage breast’

I was walking down the aisle there between the footpaths at Plaza Maestro in Vigan City when Air Supply’s “Here I Am” started to play.

The music sparked a string of memories in my youth when the song’s popularity was at its peak, so I had to stop for a while, pretending to text somebody so I could listen to the song until its end. I was so mesmerized that my thoughts travelled to the 80s, visiting the places I used to go with my childhood friends.

What a moment of reckoning, fellas.

What a way to travel back in time.

What a way to calm the body and soothe the mind.

In fact, I stored a lot of classic songs in my phone which I used to listen to while driving home or while writing columns at home on weekends. I don’t know, but I always feel younger whenever I listen to these classic songs, much more, as if my soul is refreshed. On the contrary, there are music to pain the chest especially when these connote a sad love story of the past, or a regrettable event that turned an otherwise endearing phase of life to one that resulted in a big mistake never to be forgotten.

Music hath charms.

This famous quotation from William Congreve (1670-1629) evidently has a lot more truth to it than he ever realized four hundred years ago.

The complete quote runs: “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. To soften rocks, or bend the knotted oak.”

Music has been used as a form of entertainment throughout history but did you know that it can also be used to improve brain function and relaxation?

Classical music and relaxation go hand in hand; the soft sounds from string instruments are both beautiful to listen to and calming. While studies have been done on the effects of listening to music on the human psyche, there is something in particular about classical music that relaxes and “heals” the body.

How is that, fellas?

Anyone who listens to music knows that it puts you in a good mood, especially when they are your favorite songs. Yet, it’s the structure and slow tunes of most classical music specifically, that creates a calming effect on the listener. This is due to the release of dopamine which is the body’s natural happy chemical that improves a person’s mood and also blocks the release of stress. When you’re happy, you’re less stressed and vice versa. There are a variety of activities that release dopamine and listening to classical music is one of them.

Aside from improving a person’s mood and helping them to relax, there are a wide range of benefits from listening to classical music that affects all ages, and all stages of life, from babies to the elderly.

Such beneficial effects include: improved sleep, reduced stress, better memory, lowers blood pressure and higher emotional intelligence.

Listening to classical music can have these effects and more, but it’s important to choose the right music, especially when it comes to relaxation. You wouldn’t want to choose classical music that is loud and blaring and relies on brass instruments.

Are you familiar with the parenting technique of playing classical music to help a baby sleep? Studies show that classical music helps calm babies down, and some parents believe it even makes the baby smarter. This last idea is known as The Mozart Effect, popularized by a 1993 study in which researchers analyzed students listening to classical music before some tests. The researchers found that the students performed better when answering questions after listening to classical music.

While the Mozart Effect doesn’t make you permanently smarter, it does make you more relaxed, and therefore able to tackle a task with confidence. The calming effect of classical music takes away any jitters or nervousness, and can help to decrease your heart rate and anxiety. The Mozart Effect relies on listening to classical music while performing a task, which helps to focus on the task at hand and improve memory retention.

Now, how classical music help with relaxation?

There are a ton of brainy benefits one derives from listening to classical music. From pain management to improved sleep quality, listening to classical music has both mental and physical benefits. In fact, simply listening to classical music as background noise can have a significant impact on your mood, productivity, and creativity.

Many say that the melodic harmonies are soothing, which in turn has positive effects on the brain. Because classical music is similar to lullabies, it also helps with sleep, causing the listener to go to sleep faster. Classical music and relaxation is almost like a form of meditation, due to all these positive effects, and can even make someone more empathetic and emotionally intelligent, because their body and mind is at peace.

According to Dr. Michael Miller, Director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, listening to music that makes you feel good could have health benefits that might prevent a heart attack.

Earlier studies showed that music affects heart rate and blood pressure.

Dr. Miller’s research group selected a group of healthy participants for his study of the effects of music on the cardio vascular system. Subjects selected a type of music that was joyful and made them feel good and a second type of music that made them feel anxious. Using a blood pressure cuff, the researchers discovered that the people who listened to joyful music had an increase in blood flow of the brachial artery, a very healthy response.

Good classical music is a perfect stress-reliever, too.

How does it work?

Good classical music helps release endorphins that create a wonderful, relaxed and euphoric feeling. That is just the opposite of what work and other problems do to us.

To sum it up, listen to happy, soothing classical music, fellas.

“Soothe that savage breast” and live longer and happier.