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Psychedelic Music Therapy

Psychedelic Music Therapy

Psychedelic Music Therapy — Music is more than just a means for social cohesion and communication. It ignites feelings and emboldens movement in people all over the world every day. The song playing when you enter any establishment generally sets the mood. For example, when walking into a country music bar, you would expect to see and hear certain things. By the same token, walking into a hip-hop club, but hearing country music might be confusing.

Subsequently, it’s no surprise there’s more at work in the brain here. For instance, a study in 1966 found customers stayed in stores longer when they played softer music. Which importantly translates into time spent is literally money spent. Concurrently, music provides powerful and moving experiences for listeners. So much so, that multiple studies have since been done on the matter.

Comparably, casinos play music quietly behind all the bells, buzzes, and the whir of spinning reels. They select music to keep players relaxed and focused on games. Their music is hardly noticed by the players. Similarly, financial investment companies play music that discourages high-risk behavior. In short, whether listening to music in the shower or in a controlled supportive environment, it’s all therapeutic.

Music therapy benefits usually come from the physical response. The response is purportedly magnified under the influence of psychedelics. Currently, not enough research exists to support the recreational use of psychedelics. However in the controlled studies we will talk about in this article, the results are compelling.

How does music therapy work?

Music researchers are exploring a number of different applications for psychedelic music therapy. Therapists in traditional practice incorporate music therapy tools with a multitude of others. Treatment programs for certain disorders include additional sensory-stimulating tools that are known to encourage positive patient outcomes.

Therapists tailor treatment plans to individual patients. Plans include different combinations of medications and therapies and deploy specific tools to treat different types of disorders. Try to say that three times fast!

Music therapy programs treat some conditions that may surprise you. It can be an effective tool in treating depression, autism, substance abuse, and Alzheimer’s disease. Cardiac patients even use music to help sync their body rhythms, whereas Alzheimer’s patients use music as a mode of self-expression, engagement, and connection. Several research organizations are currently exploring the possibility of treating Alzheimer’s with psychedelic medicine.

Music has a multitude of physical effects on the listener. One is its ability to lower blood pressure and help with behavioral issues. Some studies imply music therapy may be more compelling when combined with psychedelics however not enough research exists on the matter and long-term effects are vastly unknown.

What type of music do psychedelic researchers use?

Psychedelic music therapy studies field a lot of requests from the public to share the playlists they use in psychedelic research. So much that they’ve made the playlists easy to find online. There’s a lot of psychedelic playlists that are not curated by trained scientists in state-of-the-art research facilities so use caution. Though, some do use additional sensory stimulation such as abstract visual combinations.

By the same token, people sometimes unknowingly use music to support a number of self-help initiatives. For instance, people looking to maximize time at the gym might create playlists that really get the blood flowing. More accurately, playlists that inspire them to take action in ways that will increase heart rate. By the same token, a student or working professional might create a playlist aimed at improving focus for a big project at school or work. The takeaway? What we listen to matters. Likewise, you don’t have to be into magic mushrooms to build a playlist with purpose.

How does psychedelic music therapy work?

Psychedelic music therapy can also help with different aspects of PTSD treatment. For example, therapists may use music to help elicit specific emotions and memories, thereby helping them process traumatic periods or events. Importantly, music helps people recall feelings, thoughts, and emotions associated with a song they’ve worked in therapy to build an association with. When we are aware of triggers and empowered with effective coping mechanisms, we improve. These strategies reportedly have more impact when used with psychedelics.

That is to say, people sometimes set the scene for nostalgic purposes. High school reunions are a great example. Alumni recreate the sights and sounds from their time in high school and are completely immersed in a sensory time-hop. Music sets the tone and refreshes the memory. It’s an essential part of many of our day-to-day lives. Anytime a custom contact ringtone chimes we harness the power of music.

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How to use psychedelic music therapy

How powerful is music? It’s pretty powerful! People all over the world use music as a catalyst for altered states of consciousness. Scientists measure changes in body functions in response to music and there’s no question of the results. Chanting and certain meditations are currently used to alter the state of consciousness for meditative and/or religious purposes.

The autonomic nervous system governs both breath and heart rate and music almost always affects both. For example, certain songs elicit certain responses. According to music research, there are two primary types of music therapies; receptive music therapy and active music therapy.

Receptive music therapy is simply the act of listening for therapeutic value, whereas active music therapy involves creating or playing music. Both types of therapy are beneficial to participants and produce more profound effects. These therapies impact breath-rate to varying degrees. The purpose of music therapy is to inspire certain responses.

Slower beats support meditative relaxing states and fast beats bring concentration and awareness. Both impact heart rate. Activities that require repetitive cadence also create a physical response. The effects of music together with psychedelics from a physiological perspective are being studied by more researchers today than ever before.

Music therapy independently of psychedelics isn’t restricted to a therapeutic environment because it uniquely stimulates the emotional region. This makes it a desirable tool for self-help with everything from stress and anxiety to depression and healing therapy. There’s no question music reduces the effects of chronic stress in 100% of people that participate. As a result, you might notice the person next to you in traffic rocking out to their favorite song or someone using headphones at a gym. These are all great examples of people using music therapy throughout their day.

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What happens to your brain on music and psychedelics?

To answer this question I’d like to introduce you to Frederick Streeter Barrett. He’s a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. What he’s learning is how music impacts altered states of consciousness and emotional functioning.

Dr. Barrett uses tools like interviews, testing, and brain imaging to measure music research results. He’s found psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms and LSD disrupt brain networks. Importantly, changing learned behaviors requires rewiring how we think about the behavior. That’s why disruption is especially helpful for addressing addiction. Psychedelic drugs cause activity in brain regions that support emotional responses. That could make for some high school reunion!

Nostalgia is deeply woven into the fabric of individual personality. People navigating psychedelic experiences report incredible impact. They also share profound and meaningful personal experiences. Interestingly, the brains of those under the influence of psychedelics light up with activity when listening to music. It’s here we can see sensory experiences more visibly in the brain scans. Researchers are finding the impact of psychedelics can make certain networks two and even three times stronger.

How does music therapy affect the brain?

Music therapy in the psychedelic brain is like a one-two punch. Certain treatment-resistant conditions are improving with psychedelic music therapies. In one study, participants listened to music while under the influence of psilocybin. Their results showed music supports peak mystical experience during psychedelic therapy sessions. It is said to help elicit a deep sense of meaningful change perhaps because it supports meaning-making, emotionality, and mental imagery.

Reports consistently show that psychedelics increase positive outcomes in therapy and music frequently plays a critical role. For example, treatment time is shorter, theoretically making it more accessible because rapid results make it a desirable treatment option.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

People have used music therapy since at least Hurrian Hymn No. 6 because, as we’ve learned, all music is therapeutic. Can you imagine the first time music became repeatable? People from different tribes shared regional melodies, consequently giving birth to tradition.

Potential treatment applications for music therapy include:

  • Behavioral health problems
  • Military populations
  • Autism and spectrum disorders
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Correctional and forensic
  • Crisis and Trauma Response
  • Mental Health
  • Pain Management
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Who has access to music therapy?

People engage in music therapy to varying degrees. Some therapies are more passive than others. For example, listening to music is more passive than creating or writing music. Some incorporate dancing and singing in music therapy.

Music and therapy combined have a way of enhancing therapeutic outcomes as a supportive tool. Many behavioral therapy treatment program includes emotional awareness exercise. When we hear a positive song while in a negative mood the impact is commonly we get to a better state of mind. The impact of psychedelics on these complex physical processes in a supportive environment is profound.

Importantly, everyone has access to music therapy. A long walk trip w ith some good music and sincere introspection can go a long way towards overall mental health. Music enhances joy and brings nostalgia in ways that only other senses like smell accomplish in the brain.

Are there long-term effects of psychedelic experiences?

In no way, does this article constitute medical advice or guidance. The long-term effects of psychedelic experiences are not yet fulling known, but do include measurable reduction in negative emotions. Effects also include an enduring increase in positive emotions. This may explain the therapeutic value of psychedelics in treating mood and substance abuse disorders.

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