Healing With Music by Zoë Samia Kaplan
When was the last time you heard a song on the radio that brought tears to your eyes, or you put on your favorite up-beat album to clean the house? Perhaps on the way to your most recent interview or sports competition, you sang along with a song that inspired your confidence.
Music is a tool.
Several years ago, while traveling in El Salvador, I found myself frustrated at my inability to communicate with the locals. My scant knowledge of Spanish was barely capable of finding the restroom, let alone enabling me to engage in conversations of any depth. One day on a stroll through a small mountain village, a local woman took notice of the travel guitar slung over my shoulder and motioned for me to play. I stared at her in helplessness. I had no knowledge of Latino music.
She urged me on.
Feeling reserved, I took out my instrument, reached into the songbook of my mind, and began to play. I played Bonnie Raitt and Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. I sang ballads of heartbreak and new love, tribulation and wanderlust. I don’t know how much time passed before my new friend grabbed me by the arm and led me through the village to a home where a family had gathered for afternoon siesta. Again, she motioned for me to perform as she spoke excitedly to the others. This time with a bit more confidence, I slipped my guitar out of its case and began to sing. As I sang, I witnessed the emotions from these songs as they traveled from my heart to the small audience. I watched as their smiles transformed to acceptance and love. I spent my whole day like this, traveling from home to home, sharing the love of music.
I began to realize that there is a transmission or energy from music that reaches far beyond the lyrics. It was my connection to these songs and my new friends where the feeling was most profound.
How does music affect us? There are many theories. Scientists have discovered that as musical sound waves resonate through our physical body, our tissues and cells are revitalized, much like receiving a deep massage at the molecular level (Healing with Sound, Olivea Dewhurst-Maddock). Spiritual mystics liken the harmony of music to the state of our physical health. When our health is “out of order,” we seek to restore harmony in body and soul. But, Hazrat Inayat Khan points out, healing our physical body does not always heal the soul. To heal the soul, we need to restore Love.
As a spiritual healer and professional musician, I have seen that music expressed through the vessel of Love delivers healing beyond our mind’s comprehension. In this way, I have witnessed countless healings of deep-seeded emotional wounds, chronic physical pain and illness.
Zoë Samia Kaplan is a Sufi teacher and healer. She combines music, discussion and prayer to foster an environment of safety and compassion. Zoë practices at the Golden Heart Center for Wellness and is available for private and group sessions and classes.