Are You Sensible? The Power of Touch, the Magic of Music

Did you know that touching zaps your immune system with positive energy? Similarly, your brain goes into party mode when you hear and/or play music – so say the researchers.

In this cropped photo, my sister Jan’s hand touches her Aunt Ruthie’s, who in turn is feeling the fake fur of a toy, who she may imagine to be her dog Fritzie.

touchjanruthiepet

 

Touch is Powerful . . .

Dr. Dolores Krieger, professor of nursing at New York University, conducted numerous studies on the power of human touch. She discovered “that both the ‘toucher’ and the ‘touchee’ experience great physiological benefit from human contact. It works like this:

Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, a substance that transports oxygen to body tissue. And Dr. Krieger found that when one person lays hands on another, the hemoglobin levels in the blood stream of both people increase. And as they rise, body tissue receives increased oxygen, which invigorates you physically and can aid in the healing process. What you’re seeing is the literal power of love in action. Loving is good for you” There’s nothing as rewarding, satisfying, or encouraging as loving others through your words and actions.

Quoted in James Merritt, How to Impact and Influence Others

 

Touch is Powerful and so is Music!

 In a TED/Ed lesson, Anita Collins reports that listening to music engages multiple areas of one’s brain, but playing an instrument is “more like a full-body brain workout.”

She says if listening to music produces a party in the brain, picking up an instrument and playing it amounts to fireworks, a real jubilee!

What is it about producing music that totally lights up the brain? Collins mentions the physical activity of using fine motor skills (plucking a harp, blowing a trumpet) combined with the linguistic and mathematical skills in other brain areas, strengthens the connection between right and left hemispheres.

She even makes a connection between musicians and good search engines, an analogy she further explains in this 4+ minute YouTube presentation:

 

Music is Touching

Babies, newly minted from nature, love lullabies and nursery tunes. Likewise, music soothes the elderly and those of any age at the point of death. Haven’t you heard that hearing is the last sense to go?

My sister Jean, brother Mark, Mother’s pastor and wife sang my mother into glory with old gospel songs. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it in time to surround my mother’s bed with harmony.

Groups like Songs for the Journey, non-denominational and volunteer, provide a benevolent service to loved ones and patients alike as they make the transition from this life to whatever lies beyond. Quoting from their website, “Our live music ministries provide comfort and guidance to those who are near death, as well as to those who love them.”

 


 

Light up my brain with your comments please!

Thank you for checking in with thoughts on the power of touch or the value of music. What about your pets? How has touching furry friends benefitted you?

 

Something Silly

musicianwashedup1965

 

 

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43 thoughts on “Are You Sensible? The Power of Touch, the Magic of Music

    1. You are not alone . . . music, they say, bypasses the brain and goes straight to the heart. By “they” I think researchers. Hugs to you today, Merril!

      And thanks for commenting so early this morning in spite of your feelings.

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  1. I would agree with both therapies. It is lovely being cuddled or just cuddling or touching a pet. I think my dog loves being tickled and massaged as much as we do and when you stop, he asks for more. I love having a massage every now and then and this definitely helped when I had a panic attack almost 3 years ago. I made a point of going regularly to the masseuse and have tried traditional and Hot Pebbles/Stone massage and I think I’d like to try the Lava Shell massage too.

    As for music, I studied and played classical guitar for many years and always found it very calming and therapeutic. Dancing is another beautiful art form that brings great benefits and I have never stopped doing this wonderful form of exercise, either through aerobics, aquabeat, Flamenco dancing and now Zumba. I think the day I stop dancing (and travelling) is the day I die.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your wholesome practices will keep you a whole woman for a long time to come. Music . . . dancing . . . other exercise are wonderful ways to maintain bone mass and relieve stress. I had to give up Zumba because of the high impact on my poor knees and feet; the Latin music our instructor used and colorful strobe lights were an added bonus. I think I could handle aqua-beat because it sounds like a water exercise with low impact.

      Right now I could use a massage – maybe with hot stones. Thanks for all your therapeutic suggestions, Fatima.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ohhh, absolutely! Music just lifts me up and out of myself, into a world that is bright with colors and as airy as a puffy white cloud. I think music does this to all of us, no matter our age or background. And touch – oh, what a difference a touch makes. I love how ‘nursing homes’ use pets as therapy. In the facility where my mom lives, she lights up when my brother brings his dog Oliver. And on that note, thank you for the suggestion of a stuffed animal (as Aunt Ruthie seems to be enjoying). I’m going to get one for my mom. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes the new owners bring Fritzie IV to see Ruthie. She lights up and the Schnauzer goes berserk-ie when they visit.

      I guess you could work your mother’s reaction to your “pet” gift into one of your stories. I look forward to it!

      Usually I write in silence, but today I may turn the TV to the Music Choice channel. Soundscapes sound appealing on a day like today. Thanks for the suggestion, Pamela.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh yes, I really believe this. Our new dog, Dot is great to stroke and snuggle with. Always makes me feel good. Thye often bring pets into the seniors homes now so the folks there can have some pet time. I love that.

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  4. Interesting timing. Yesterday on NPR I heard a story about a facility that uses music for it’s patients with Alzheimer’s. The music causes them to make eye contact and to interact with others. Good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really believe that touching has feeling power and music also helps sooth our soul. I love music and we Spanish people are very touchy feely. We greet with a kiss and we are always talking with our hands. I have a friend who lives here alone. She has two daughters one in Colorado and the other in Washington state. She loves coming here because she always has a warm welcome and can stay as long as she wants even if she sits and watches TV. I always hug her when she enters and leaves. She said that I’m the only person who hugs her. She’s a widow and alone. Thank you for this post. After this morning upset, I’m going to need a lot of music and hugs.
    Gloria

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hugs don’t cost much but are priceless in their effect. Your hugs and open door to your friend have a greater effect than hours of therapy in a psychologist’s office. You know, of course, that you are a life-saver to her. Hugs back to you, Gloria!

        May you have unexpected surprises to brighten your day.

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  6. Marian — I positively resonate with this post. I have absolutely benefited from the power of touch — both human and animal — and the value of music.

    I, too, have heard (on a number of occasions) that at death, hearing is the last sense to shut down. In fact, I’ve read that people can hear for up to 20-minutes after the heart stops beating. How on earth this information has been gathered I have no idea, but with that in mind, we talked, and talked, and talked with my mom after her heart stopped beating.

    Have a fantastic day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you touch on this phenomenon in your book, which is speeding its way into my mailbox as we speak. (Just gathered this from your sample pages – ha!)

      It’s amazing that hearing is intact up to 20 minutes after the heart is silent; I didn’t know that. Maybe it’s so that a prodigal child can rush into the room of the dying parent and utter the words, “Forgive me, Mom!” — Or, “I forgive you, Dad!” Either way, a powerful point.

      Thanks for the good wishes and adding to our store of info, Laurie.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was gladdened to find my newborn grandson responding well to my lullabies as his mother asked me to “go settle Owen while I give Sam (3 year old) his bath.” Owen had been put in his crib, swaddled and almost sleeping, but of course he got edgy and awake. I picked him up, sang a medley of my favorites “rock-a-bye, my little pixaninnie, slumber on the bosom of my old grandpa chinny …” (what lyrics from my father!!) and “Hush little baby, don’t say a word…” Owen was soon comforted and put back to sleep, and I knew that he indeed liked being sung to. His mother works for a symphony so I know he will hear plenty of music (and indeed did for nine months in her “tummy”.) Great reminders here and a chance to share a tidbit from our journey over recent months with a grandson whose start was so rocky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am thrilled about this Owen update, Melodie, as you know I have prayed for his well-being from the rocky start. I know all about this from grandson Ian’s experience. Singing to wee ones is probably as comforting to the singer as to the “singee.”

      My grandma sang a lullaby in German to us when we needing comforting. Then I sang fragments of it to my own children. Your comment here sparked a memory, so I will try to re-create it: Tszu, tszu, schlafe ein a liebe’s kind . . . in heilige rue. I know I’m butchering the PA German here, but I had to “hear” again for old time’s sake.

      You have talented daughters: a writer and a musician, whom I didn’t know much about. May comforting music sooth your spirits this day too. Thanks, Melodie.

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      1. Schlafe = sleep, no? Leibe = love? Heilige = holy? I remember my grandparents Pa. Dutch too. The musician plays flute and piano, but for her profession, she wisely (me thinks) chose the administrative route and is artistic administrator for a mid-sized city symphony. So she is surrounded by music. I try to protect their identities a bit online as all 3 of them navigate big city streets.

        Unlike others here, I have not had the experience of singing my grandparents or dad to heaven. But the idea that people/brains might hear after death is intriguing. Makes me want to be sure not to say anything negative!

        Thanks for your prayers for Owen, and your lovely words.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You can tell I never studied German. Also, I did not use Bing Translator to help me out either. (French and Spanish were my languages in school.) Your spelling looks right to me.

          You are wise to protect family member identities. Sometime I wonder whether I should guard privacy more especially now that I have made my weekly blog posts public on Facebook.

          Yes, the “effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous [wo]man availeth much.” So glad to hear a good report about your littlest grandson.

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  8. We sang our dad into glory as well. Those moments will remain with me forever. My husband always sang a German lullaby to our kids “Muede bin ich geh’ zur Ruh”. To this day they speak about how comforting that was for them, and they are singing it to their children. I remember my dad’s favorite songs when he pastored a tiny village church in Paraguay. They will sing me into glory!

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    1. I appreciate hearing about your family’s singing tradition here and the prospect of that continuing when it’s your time, Elfrieda. Living so far away, I never had the privilege of being at my loved ones’ bedside during their transitions. I’m sorry about that.

      It strikes me too that you are a citizen of the world: Paraguay, Canada, and an African nation too, I believe.

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  9. Lovely post, Marian, that floods me with so many memories. One of my favorites that combines music and touch is with my grandmother. I was five, and I sat on the piano bench beside Grandma, leaning against her and singing along with her as she played. Then she took my hands and put them on the back of her hands so I could feel her fingers move on the keys and “play the piano” with her as we sang.
    Thanks for nudging this memory, Marian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your welcome, Marylin. And thank you for the poignant memory you illustrate here. I can picture your young hands on top of your Grandma’s, making music together. Dare I ask whether you still play the piano?

      Your memory reminds me of the photos we sometimes see of little girls standing of top of their Daddy’s shoes as he leads them in a dance – again, another example of the blend of music and touch.

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  10. I love the washed up musician. 😊The u tube was so informative well worth watching. I recon there are two things that a human should always learn in a lifetime , a second language and how to play a musical instrument 🎸. Have you ever met anyone who plays a musical instrument or engages in crafts unhappy , on the whole no …it has to be good for you .
    To touch someone says it all you don’t need words . Animals are amazing to touch . My little chap Oscar doesn’t hear very well now and every morning he comes to me for his morning cuddle. I just know he feel connected with me again though touch . Lovely subjects Marian .
    Cherryx

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    1. Your guitar icon reminds me that soon I’ll be taking grand-daughter Jenna to her guitar lessons for beginners. She, like you suggest, likes to dabble: First it was the piano, then yoga, and now guitar. Yes, it’s all good for now – and later.

      Thanks for the update on Oscar. I can picture you and he cuddling. I’m glad this post connected with you, Cherry.

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    1. Yes, all the research shows that all the arts, including music, has a positive effect on the more left-brained subjects like math and science. I once blogged about this. Unfortunately, the arts are often the first items to be cut from the budget. 😦

      Here’s to preserving all the arts, including photo/prose posts like yours, Fiona!

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  11. Nothing soothes better that a good hug. In college, we were taught about the therapeutic effects of touch. So many ICU nurses get caught up in all the monitoring equipment and tubes, they forget to actually touch their patients.

    Sadly, there was a Russion study in an orphange where caretakers were allowed to change babies diapers and feed them, but not allowed to pick them up and hold them or soothe them in any way. ALL of the babies died. Touch is powerful and one of our most valuable senses.

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  12. Fascinating accounting in the video Marian. I love the explanation of how the music affects the brain. Now I know why I just feel better once I turn the music on. Also touch can emit different emotions in humans, eliciting anything from comfort and love to sexual arousement. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A touching blog post! My live art performances at schools, business groups and churches would not be as effective if I did not weave music throughout the visual theme.

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  14. I love this post, Marion. It’s written with such tenderness. We need twenty second hugs for best oxytocin release–so the theory goes. I tested it a few times this week. Long post-election hugs with people I might not normally hug at all.

    I miss music. This is the worst part of my hearing problem, but I’m stuck with it. I think it makes the visual and olfactory worlds all the more important to me. Still, there’s nothing sweeter than singing to a baby or a dying person. Fortunately, I can still sing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You sing in your writing all the time and we hear a full range of notes there, at least I do – all the time. You mentioned the spiked attention to visual and olfactory worlds. From what I have seen of your garden harvest, gustatory would rank high for you too. You can still taste – right?

      Hugs back to you – 20 seconds long, so it really counts! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll thank him for sure. That drawing was another sketch that lay dormant in a drawer for years and years. Thanks also for your sweet tweet. Elaine.

      Here’s to a better week for all of us now!

      Like

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