“Music Hath Charms to Soothe the Savage Breast”

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Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

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

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


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.

According to Dr. Miller, earlier studies showed that music affects heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, he states that laughter and prayer improve cardiac performance.

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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. However, the artery flow decreased when the subjects listened to anxiety producing music.

What is very significant is that the increased artery flow was equal to what people experience after doing aerobic exercise.

So, what this means is that for you to remain heart healthy, it is important to do such things as: a) be careful about what you eat, b) maintain a healthy weight, c) exercise regularly d) provide yourself with the opportunities to laugh as much as possible, and, finally e) listen to music that you find joyful and is not anxiety producing. Performing these types of activities on a regular basis might allow you to prevent a future heart attack or stroke. At least, that is what the findings seem to suggest.

How it works:

So, keeping your heart and mind healthy is very much a "laughing matter." You see, stress is a killer. Stress pumps lots of adrenaline into our system, resulting in the release of all types of bad stuff that clogs our arteries. However, the activities discussed above reduce and even reverse the impact of stress. Music, laughter, exercise and all the others, help release endorphins that create a wonderful, relaxed and euphoric feeling. That is just the opposite of what work and other problems does to us.

Let yourself laugh and, listen to happy music. "Soothe that savage breast" and live longer and happier.

Your comments are welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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