Table Speech

“The wisdom of health and long lifeーwhat one comes to see through music”

December 10, 2008

Ms. Reiko Yukawa,
Music Critic, Song Writer,

 At a certain time, I realized that music is not just something to which one listens simply to satisfy a hobby or interest. What drove me to this awakening was the music of the Beatles. The Beatles’ music makes me happy. It is good music. In Japan, there is a history of thinking that only the classics are good music and nothing else will be good enough. I had doubts about this type of thinking, and began to study many things. What I finally came upon was a field called “Musical Therapy. I also found it fascinating that religion is always filled with songs and dances.
 I became intrigued with the theme, “what type of effect does music have on suffering people?”
“Musical Therapy” is a treatment based on studies of the physiology of the brain and cells and the behavior of fluids in the body when one listens to music. In the United States, the Music Therapy Association, Inc. was formed around 1939. It was not until the 1960’s when the book “Musical Therapy” was translated into Japanese and published in Japan.
 During the 14th to the 16th century, European physicians discovered, “when playing music to a person who has suffered from depression, you must never have him/her listen to happy music”.
 Around the 16th century, a German physician discovered the “Principle of Homogeneity”. When one is trying to cheer up a friend who is discouraged, saying “cheer up, let’s go out to karaoke, and light it up!” only causes him/her to feel more discouraged and think “no one understands my pain”.
 When a patient is asked to pick music him/herself, he/she selects a somber song. Listening to it, he/she emotionally assimilates the song and, crying along with the music, gradually becomes better. Eventually, he/she will start to select lighter songs. This is the “Principle of Homogeneity”.
 The knowledge is spreading that when one listens to music, somewhere in the brain reacts in some way. In cases other than music, it has been said that having an infant hear its mother’s voice just after being born is effective. The baby reacts to the rhythm of the mother’s heart beat and the mother’s voice that it has been hearing through the amniotic fluid, and a sense of confidence is born that it is safe and being protected.
 The infant suddenly bursting out crying, hearing its mother’s voice saying, “Oh what’s wrong?” is the founding point of communication and a source for growth is fostered. Such non-animalistic treatment as separating the mother and child immediately after birth to a new infant room and giving milk on a timed schedule may create people who are not able to communicate. It is known that this behavior robs infants of their motivation to grow, and even their intellect.
 Just by listening to music and matching one’s breathing to it brings about significant changes in the body. This is a phenomenon that has become known in the world of studies of the brain, as well as the general medical world.
 There are many theories of being healthy. All of these lead to one place, “breathing”. Tai-chi, Yoga, and Shomyo, a style of Japanese Buddhist chant, are all representative of this. When you are feeling a little tired, breathe lightly through the nose, focus your consciousness on a location about 3 centimeters below the belly button, and slowly exhale through the mouth. Exhale long and slowly. If you practice this breathing 5 to 10 times a day, you will feel physically much better.
 Think about the word “innocence”. A child’s body is soft, fresh, and young. If you want to stay fresh and young through adulthood, you need to stay innocent, like a baby.
 The shape of the body is the shape of the mind. Move your body pretending that you’ve become a kindergarten pupil. Something is bound to change.
 Clasp both hands together and then spread them apart, and with a cheerful and loud voice slowly sing a nursery rhyme. The lively rhythm of the words will make you feel relaxed to the point you forget what depresses you. At the same time practice the slow breathing method. When you are not feeling well, you cannot exhale at length. This is a good barometer of your health. Use it as wisdom to help you live a long life.