"If you can walk you can dance. If you can talk you can sing."
~ African proverb
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you well know I believe that you are more than just a body. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING we do affects us in mind, body AND spirit.
Today I'd like to talk about the POWER OF SINGING, how it can help alleviate pain symptoms and Benefits the Mind, Body and Spirit.
I'm not talking about just singing alone on your own in the privacy of your daily shower or commute, but also as a part of a choir or community.
Back in late spring of 2013, my husband crossed something off of his "bucket list". He took a personal risk and submitted his vocal track to join thousands of others around the world in Eric Whitacre's 4th Virtual Choir project entitiled Fly to Paradise.
If you're unfamiliar with Whitacre's Virtual Choirs, I highly encourage you to check out his TED talks video discussing the Original Virtual Choir project.
Becoming a contributing member of Virtual Choir 4 was an emotional and empowering experience for my husband on many levels. He's always loved to sing, and although he's not a trained vocal musician, something about Whitacre's project struck a deep chord within him and motivated him to step out of his comfort zone and submit his audition.
Here you can see exerpts of Virtual Choir 4 Submissions. It's important to see, and my hope is that it will encourage my blog subscribers to embrace and act on the concept of "do one thing a day that scares you".
For my husband that one thing was to sing in public and take the risk of rejection. And who wouldn't? You can imagine that an untrained voice might be scared to join... but as Whitacre points out, we should ALL sing! It's so cool to watch what happens when you link up 44 voices, and then view the final product.
When the song was published on July 11th, 2013, it brought me to tears. There was something so powerful and magnetic about the music. I could feel the chorus swell within my heart and it made me feel as if I was somehow connected to the whole choir well knowing that my husband's voice was a part of the experience.
So imagine my surprise, when I came across an interesting blog on CNN Health shortly after called Choir Singer's Hearts Beat As One.
As it turns out, researchers in Sweden found that not only do choir singers create an emotional connection to one another because they unite their voices to sing together, physiologically, their hearts begin to synchronize!
Singers often inhale and exhale at similar times. When your heartbeat is connected to your breathing pattern, it’s called respiratory sinus arrhythmia, or RSA. RSA can have a soothing effect on the cardiovascular system. For instance, past studies have shown guided breathing – like what’s done in yoga – can be beneficial for high blood pressure problems.
“If this is correct, singing would probably have the same effect,” said Bjorn Vickhoff, a professional singer/songwriter-turned-neuroscientist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
Wow! I LOVE it when science links an emotional experience to a physiological response. So I started to dig in a bit and research more on the benefits of singing. I was amazed at the amount of scientific research out there that connects singing with health benefits.
Benefits of Singing
- increases immunity
- emotional state/tension
- enhances relationships
- helps alleviate stress
- helps you breath better
- facilitates a sense of tribe or belonging to a community
- helps promote lymphatic circulation
Singing is good for your health in mind, body AND spirit! As Dr. Jame Le Faneu writes:
"Singing involves virtually every muscle group, vibrating the whole system like a tonic massage. It increases lung capacity, improves posture, clears the sinuses and boosts mental alertness by increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood. And for good measure it exercises the facial muscles – helping to maintain youthful good looks. This is evident in the choirs under the baton of TV choirmaster Gareth Malone, who not only clearly enjoy themselves, but also seem to radiate good health."
Singing has also been well documented to help people in chronic pain manage their symptoms!
In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Music Therapy, researchers found that choir singing helps people cope with chronic pain, and it corroborates that it can help alleviate loneliness, improve self-esteem and stave off memory problems.
So there you have it! As a Corrective Exercise Specialist who helps people overcome chronic pain, I now have yet another tool in my tool-box of tips and tricks to hand out. Try SINGING on your own or in a CHOIR! As my husband is a clear example, no matter what your age or level of musical ability, everyone can reap the many benefits from the physical activity of creating vocal sound. It is an aerobic exercise that is cathartic, calming and rejuvenating. When you sing you simply feel better. Your mind, body and spirit wil thank you!
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Stock Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
Head Photo Credit: Ruby and Roxy Photography
Deb Preachuk is a Chronic Pain Pain Relief, Posture Restoration and Athletic Performance Enhancement pro specializing in corrective exercise, applied biomechanics, STOTT Pilates and functional movement patterns.
Founder of Pain Free Posture MN, Deb helps real people transform real-world chronic pain challenges into achievable results. Deb infuses her teaching with an honest, open and down-to-earth mix of chronic pain relief therapeutic modalities training techniques to make the concepts of pain relief and body/mind transformation accessible and achievable!