[Transcript] – Everything You Need To Know About How To Use Music For Exercise, Stress, Anxiety, Pain, Sleep, Immunity, Intelligence-Building & More!

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/music-podcast/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:37] Ben's first music album

[00:04:17] The first song “Running With you”

[00:08:49] How music can influence workouts

[00:15:53] The second song “Made For”

[00:20:30] Music for Stress

[00:28:50] The third song “Eternal Spark”

[00:34:18] Music and immune system

[00:38:53] The fourth song “Cover It All”

[00:44:31] Sound Healing

[00:56:38] Learning and music

[00:51:21] The fifth song “Pull Me Closer”

[01:02:00] The sixth song “You Are Great”

[01:05:51] Wrapping up

[01:08:12] End of Podcast

[01:8:44] Legal Disclaimer

Ben:  In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Everything you need to know about how to use music for exercise, stress, anxiety, pain, sleep, immunity, intelligence building, and much more.

Fitness, nutrition, biohacking, longevity, life optimization, spirituality, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Life Show. Are you ready to hack your life? Let's do this.

Alright, folks. This is a very special, I suppose, episode of the Ben Greenfield Life show because it's all about music and how frequencies of music and sound can interact with your body, your biology, your DNA, in order to make your life better. This is a topic near and dear to my heart right now because I have just fulfilled my bucket list dream of recording what I suppose could best be described as a contemporary rock album in Nashville, which was absolutely life-changing. The EP, as I believe it's called, of my six-song album is now completely available and you're going to get to hear those songs woven into today's show. So, I think you're going to really, really love this. I think you're going to learn a lot and I would love to hear your comments, your questions, your feedback. And, in addition to that, all the studies I cite, all of the music that I talk about, you can find all of this at BenGreenfieldLife.com/MusicPodcast. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/MusicPodcast.

I grew up in a quite musical family. I played the violin for 13 years. I sang in a rock band in high school. I used to write little songs when I was a teenager and play them with my friends. I sang in church choir in college. I've even interviewed amazing music icons like Rick Rubin is a very good example on this very podcast. And, if you go to the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/MusicPodcast, I'll link to that episode and some other relevant musical-based episodes.

Now, despite not being anything like a professional musician, I love music. I play my guitar a lot. I love to write and sing my own original songs. I sing praise songs and hymns at church. I've been known to bust out Coldplay or Jelly Roll or Elevation Worship or Chris Stapleton, you name it. And yes, I dig a weird mix of contemporary and pop and Christian and country. I love to bust into song and play songs for myself and for my family. So, it's no secret that music is and always has been a huge passion of mind. I use music for relaxation, for medicine, for energy, for sleep, for worship, and as a creative outlet for the words and the tunes that seem to swirl around in my mind at least several times a week. 

And, this brand-new rock album that I recorded in Nashville is a perfect example of that. It's called “Made For.” The whole album is free online. You can check out at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Music if you want to check it out. But today, I don't just want to play a bunch of tracks, I'll play you some of these tracks, which I hope you really enjoy but I also want to tell you some of the really, really interesting things that I've learned about music and its biological benefits and the way that it's woven into DNA. I was actually even listening this morning, there's this crazy paranormal podcast that I sometimes tune into called Blurry Creatures. And, in this episode of Blurry Creatures, today's episode, which I'll link to in the shownotes, was all about how frequencies of music are things that are passed on to us by the spirit world and they can play with our DNA and our bodies in really weird ways. I realize that's kind of fringe, kind of woo, kind of spooky, but we live in a spooky world. So, if you want to check that out, go for it if you want to take the deep dive into the paranormal.

So, anyways, before we jump in to some of the ways that I want to teach you about how to use music for working out for exercise and for fitness, I actually want to play for you the first track from my brand-new album, appropriately enough since we're going to be talking about exercise and since this is a great gym track, the first track I want to play for you is “Running With You.” I wrote “Running With You” for my sons who are named River and Terran, and so you'll notice the sneaky part in the lyrics here where I call them out when I say, “Run wild a river and shake the ground, live louder than thunder.” And, this song actually reflects the bond and adventure between father and sons. I wrote it to crank out loud while you're driving down the highway while you're doing a workout while you're up to anything active. So, we're going to delve in.

By the way, big shout out to my collaborator on this project Chad Carruthers who's a producer down in Nashville who's been fantastic to work with. Huge talent. And, it is he who was my key man for putting this project together. Also, when you listen to this song, the “ooh” part of it is actually just me and four other guys and we blew this up in the studio to sound like a whole choir but it's literally just each of us going “ooh.” So anyways, sit back, enjoy “Running With You” or I should say more appropriately run, lift, charge down the highway. Enjoy this song. Here we go.

“Running With You” playing 

Alright, I hope you enjoyed that track. So, as promised, I want to talk about how music can be used to influence your workouts. There's actually a wealth of research on the impact of music on exercise and whether music can actually influence a workout. There are over two decades of research on how listening to music helps people to be able to run farther, cycle for longer, swim faster, positively affect mood during a workout, decrease perceived effort, increase endurance. And, it's odd for me to be talking to you about this because I personally don't play music that often when I exercise. 

Back in the day when I'd race in triathlon, I would do a lot of interval training and I'd put together these tracks where I'd have a five-minute long easy song, then a five-minute long hard song. And, I'd string six of those together, so if I was going to run for say an hour, I could do a five hard, five easy run. That's one way that I used to use music quite a bit when I'd need to do a harder interval-based workout. I also was someone once called a “spin Nazi” in college. Meaning, I taught spin classes multiple times per week and I was a DJ for spin classes. And, I love to put together all these tracks that were focused on going hard, going easy, certain cadences that I put together to mimic the cadence that I wanted people to achieve on the bikes. Anybody who's been in a spin class understands how this goes. But, the impact of music from a scientific perspective on exercise is really interesting.

There's one predominant researcher, and I'm going to try not to butcher his name, his name is Professor Costas Karageorghis. I'm just going to pretend that's exactly how you pronounce his name, but he is an expert in sport and exercise psychology. I believe he operates out of Brunell University in London where they've spent years monitoring the brain's response to music while people exercise.

Now, one of their studies that was published in The Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that listening to music led to a 28% increase in enjoyment of a workout or an exercise session compared with listening to nothing. And, enjoyment was 13 % higher for people who listen to music compared to listening to a podcast. And, as I alluded to a few minutes ago, this is interesting for me because I use music as almost like–I sometimes say “use sugar as a sometimes drug.” I'll dose with carbohydrates before really hard workout, but most of the time I don't because I want to train my body to be a little bit more of a fat-burning machine.

Now, with music, I actually predominantly listen to podcasts or audiobooks while I'm working out. Sometimes just silence for the meditative aspects of that. But, when I got to dig deep, when I got to go to the well, when I'm feeling a little bit sluggish for workout, that's when I'll bust out the musical tracks. But, if you see me with my headphones on at the gym or working out, a lot of times I'm not listening to music, I'm actually using a workout, I think Tony Robbins once described driving in your car and listening to say an audiobook or Tony Robbin seminar is the case may be was like a traveling university. And, I consider my workouts to be an active university where I'm learning and listening and exercising at the same time. But, that being said, if you got to go hard, it is undeniable that music can be super-duper useful for that.

They had another study that showed that participants who listen to music they deemed pleasing, meaning self-selected music that they liked had higher levels of serotonin; a hormone that can promote positive feelings. And, it has become clear that by boosting pleasure in this way, music appears to reduce what's called your RPC, your rating of perceived exertion. Meaning it can make a hard workout feel less hard. There are more than 100 studies on this showing an average 10% reduction in perceived exertion during everything from low all the way up to moderate exercise intensities when listening to music.

Now, it's interesting because the professor Karageorghis who I described, he has actually done studies where he's found that if somebody else selects the music for you or if it's just a radio or a Spotify playlist that you didn't put together or a random list of tracks, that will actually reduce your perceived exertion by about 8%. But, if you select the music yourself, you reduce the perceived exertion by multitudes of percentages above that, up to 12%. So basically, if you are selecting your own music, it's actually better than you listening to random tracks if you want to reduce your rating of perceived exertion, which I realize is paradoxical because I've actually chosen the tracks that you're going to listen to for today's podcast. 

Once you're engaged in super hard exercise which would be defined as beyond 75% of your VO2 max, then it turns out that high-intensity workout music, and this is a little paradoxical to me but it's not as effective at higher intensities, which is crazy. Which means music is more effective for a long run or an easier workout than it would be for a super-duper hard workout. I thought that was interesting. I can't describe it or explain it, but that's what the research shows.

They've also shown that music helps to improve your actual sporting performance. For example, when we go play family tennis or family pickle ball, I grab the Bluetooth speaker, I bring that out and I play music to make it fun. I love this little playlist on Spotify called The Happy Playlist, one of my favorites for playing music while we're playing tennis or pickleball. But, it appears that if you are listening to music during a sporting performance like tennis or pickle ball say, it not only can reduce rating of perceived exertion and increase feelings of pleasure but would allow you to engage in better skill acquisition and better sporting performance.

Now, the other thing that's interesting and another way in which music affects your performance is by synchronizing with a beat. Meaning, if you're going to go for a run at 180 strides per minute, you can actually select a piece of music that is rhythmically close to that like 90 beats per minute. I used to do in spin class when I know, “Okay, this is going to be a hill climb song,” so I'd choose a 60 RPM track or this is going to be a faster up-tempo song so I'd choose 100 RPM track. But, the actual RPM or the beat is also really important and they found that the metronome effect of music that set to a good beat, hopefully, the “Running With You” track that you just heard, can reduce oxygen intake by up to 7%, which is again showing that you don't have to work as hard or suck air as much when you're listening to music during exercise.

So, hosts of research on how music positively influences workouts, but I just think it's fascinating how you can use it strategically for a workout. And, that all being said, I think we're coming up on the time for your next song.

So, this next song is actually the theme song for my entire album. It's called “Made For.” So, my album is called “Made For,” but this song is called “Made For” also. And, I really poured some energy into this one as you'll probably hear when you listen to my voice straining to bust out the “Breathe this all in, be here right now.” When I got to some of the high-pitched parts of this song, Chad and I were sometimes working close to 10:00 p.m. My voice was cracking. I was tired after a week of recording, but I barely hit these notes. You'll hear in the song which I wrote as an inspiration for you to be fully present to what the world is telling you right now. Eyes wide open, a fearless and hopeful spirit, and a knowledge deep down inside that God has a great purpose for your life. That's all woven into this song. So, it's called “Made For.” This is what you're made for. Check it out.

“Made For” playing

Alright, so now that you've heard that track, I want to delve into music for stress. I remember when I read this passage of the Bible about how when King Saul was super stressed, he had David come play music for him. And, it turns out that listening to music can have really therapeutic effects. I actually did an interview with this composer, may he rest in peace, he since passed away. His name is Michael Tyrell, and he has these fantastic tracks called Wholetones, which he tunes to specific frequencies for sound healing and for decreased stress. What's also interesting is if you listen to that podcast I mentioned in the introduction with Blurry Creatures on the frequency of music, Michael actually reset the frequency Hertz of the A note, I believe it is, in his music to be closer to 444 Hertz. And, there's a whole controversial story behind why that would be that you can listen to my podcast with Michael to learn more about. But, it turns out that music, especially music that's tuned to the frequency, has significant power to help reduce stress and anxiety and relieve pain, and even improve focus.

So, there was a 2020 overview of research in the music and stress and it showed that listening to music can lower your heart rate, it can lower the amount of cortisol produced by the adrenal glands, it can release painkilling endorphins, which is why it can be useful even if you've had surgery that you're recovering from, cancer-related pain, injury-related pain, et cetera. It can distract you from stress thus reducing your physical and emotional stress levels. And, they found in clinically meaningful ways it can reduce a variety of stress-related symptoms. So, when music sounds move through your ears as vibrations and your inner ear translates those vibrations into electrical signals and then neurons transmit those signals to certain areas of what's called the cerebral cortex in your brain, dedicated regions of the brain can then detect the different elements of those signals like the tone and the pitch and the rhythm of the music. 

When areas of the brain get activated by the music, especially if it's positive uplifting music, even though I had a fascinating dinner conversation just a couple of weeks ago with the lead guitarist of a band called Five Fingers Death Punch, I don't necessarily think that Five Finger Death Punch, hard metal or death metal, is going to be the best for stress. I don't think I'm revealing a news flash there, but the investigation into the right kind of music's health effects on its ability to calm us down and relieve stress is undeniable.

So, there was a 2021 study that showed that people who listen to personal selections of music, both at home and in a laboratory environment, again, the importance of self-selection here not having someone else select the music but you select the tracks you want to listen to had significantly reduced cortisol levels. There was another overview of 349 different studies that occurred on music's usefulness as a mental health treatment for schizophrenia, for bipolar, and for major depression. 68.5% of music-based interventions had positive results. Music therapy has also shown a significant benefit in preventing burnout in workers. There was one study that showed that having access to 30-minute music-listening sessions during a break reduce stress and less emotional exhaustion was a result of that. 

And, this is interesting because I try to duck out after lunch every day and do about 20 to 40 minutes of meditation. And, two of the ways that I do that involve music. One is an app called NuCalm, N-U-Calm that plays these tracks that just lull you into this positive or relaxed or focused state depending on how you select the music. The other is a light sound stimulation machine that has musical tracks. It's called the BrainTap. What I really like about the BrainTap is some of my favorite sessions are indeed tracks that are from that composer that I talked about, Michael Tyrell, but they're specifically selected to have light and sound stimulation that shifts your brain in different directions for alpha brain wave, delta brain wave or theta brain wave production depending on the level of relaxation that you want.

Another 2018 survey revealed that 62% of people were responsive to music for relaxation, for sleep, and for insomnia. This is also interesting because I mean just this morning is a perfect example, I woke up at about 3:45 a.m. I didn't quite feel like getting up and crushing the day right then, call me crazy, but I put on a 100-minute NuCalm track and kept my lazy butt in bed listening to that NuCalm track and it's incredibly relaxing and restorative and often will lull me back to sleep. They've shown that music listening or music therapy reduces depression levels, increases confidence, increases motivation. In children, they looked at all the studies in a 2021 review from 2009 up to 2019, they showed that music significantly reduces anxiety for children leading up to enduring medical procedures. So, once again, there's the medical stress-reducing painkilling effective music.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a survey of over 5,600 people from 11 countries that showed that music helped people cope during lockdown and to basically get through the pandemic, the loss of work, the being shut down at home with your whole family driving you crazy and getting cabin fever. It turns out that music helps out quite a bit with that as well or helped out quite a bit with that. They've also shown improved quality of life for people with Alzheimer's disease showing that music interventions can have positive effects on behavior and cognition of people with Alzheimer's disease. Music can of course assist with meditation which decreases stress. And again, my two favorite ways to do that are the NuCalm app and the BrainTap light sound stimulation device. They've also shown that music therapy with a therapist can really help enhance the efficacy of a therapy session if they have good music playing in the background like good, relaxing, stress-relieving music. They've also shown that music can relieve pain. So, postsurgical pain, physical pain, joint pain, you name it, especially if you're recovering or doing a recovery session, it turns out that music could help lower the amount of pain that you feel or the amount of soreness that you feel, whether it's a workout or a surgery or an injury or anything else.

Now, are there some types of music that are better for reducing stress? Well, historically certain genres of lyricless music like classical music and ambient music have been studied. And, no surprises there, there's a great deal of evidence that those forms of music can reduce stress and anxiety. But, that doesn't mean they're better than other genres of music. For example, rap music, despite my hesitations about recommending that because sometimes the lyrics of rap music are not that uplifting, but it turns out that in rap music that actually is not chockfull of violence and dirty language, it can be inspiring and motivating when people are in a low mood or dealing with difficult life circumstances. Even heavy metal music, which I know I threw into the bush earlier, it appears to help, in one study, enhance what's called identity development. I am not quite sure I can fully define why that is or what it means, but they found that heavy metal enthusiasts did often experience traumatic and risky sex, drug, and rock and roll-oriented lives. But, that identity that they had with that seemed to serve as a protective factor against negative outcomes like chronic disease or suicide.

So, I guess what I'm saying here is it's being able to identify with a strong form of music seems to help to reduce stress. And, there's actually group of musicians and researchers and music therapists that have claimed to create the most relaxing stress relieving song ever. It's called Weightless. I'll link to the song Weightless in the shownotes so you can decide for yourself if it's actually the most relaxing song ever. So, if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/MusicPodcast. I'll link to this song Weightless so you can take a listen to that one.

But, in the meantime, we're going to keep going here in a second but I want to take a break here and play for you my next song. I wrote this song as a love letter to my wife. It is called “Eternal Spark,” and it's about how when you look into someone's eyes, you can see deep down into their soul. You can see the glowing spark inside them that fuels their drive, their passion, their purpose and that's way more important than how they look or what they're wearing or their muscles or their achievements or anything like that. If you saw Pixar's animated movie “Soul,” that also inspired this song, this idea of an invisible spark inside each of us and how I would find myself falling into the brightest blue eternal star when I look into my wife's eyes. So, yeah, this is a love song. There's a part of it that goes “Just show the light that lasts forever. Oh, from your heart. Oh, from your soul. Open your eyes just for a moment. I want to fall into your deepest blue.”

So anyways, here you go. Enjoy this love song to my wife. I hope that it brings you closer to one of your loved ones. Here we go.

“Eternal Spark” playing

Alright. Well, I hope you enjoyed “Eternal Spark.” And now, I want to teach you a little bit about music and your immune system. Greek physicians back in the day would use music as medicine. They were known to use flutes and lyres and what are called zithers to help patients with digestion and mental disturbances and sleep issues. Ancient Egyptians used musical incantations that they thought would heal the ailing. And, since the 19th century, the effects of music on blood pressure and heart rate and respiratory rate and killer T-cell production and a lot more has been more formally examined. Now, a lot of these studies have shown that music, and even more so, this is interesting, live music like someone actually playing a musical instrument in the room with you, back to the King Saul harpist David analogy, lowers blood pressure, increases cardiac output, decreases heart rate and assists with the activation of the parasympathetic rest and relax nervous system.

Now, in a meta-analysis of 400 studies in 2013, they found that music could vastly assist with the body's immune system function, meaning listening to music and yes, even playing music can increase the body's production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system's effectiveness along with decreasing the levels of that hormone I was talking about earlier, cortisol. So, whether you're making a mood shifts playlist for if you're sick or you're yearning to master the soothing tones of flute or a mouth harp or perhaps more conservatively a guitar or even humming or singing or turning on your favorite jams and having a dance party even if you're sick, it turns out that the neurochemistry of music especially related to the immune system puts it way up there as far as something that can help you if you're sick, something that can help you during cold and flu season and something that can ultimately equip your body to better be able to fight battles.

Now, studies have shown that music can regulate immune function in humans by enhancing the activity of NK cells and T lymphocytes and promoting the production of certain anti-inflammatory compounds, what are called interleukins. Now, music can have a reversing effect on the immunosuppressive effects caused by noise pollution as well. It turns out that loud trucks and constantly running appliances and the hum of overhead jets can actually suppress your immune system. And, when you play music, you see a reversal of that decrease in thymus and spleen activity and the number or activity of white blood cells, these lymphocytes and NK killer cells.

Now, music can also slightly improve immune parameters in unstressed organisms as well. So, one of the ways it does this is related to the decreased levels of cortisol in the blood. And, there's even some evidence that music might reduce the metastasis of tumor cells and postpone cancer progression. Music therapy has also been shown to promote immune tolerance after organ transplantation resulting in better survival in organisms that were given what's called an allograph implant or an allograph organ transplantation. And, in the meantime, the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-2 are suppressed when you listen to music while those of anti-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-4 and interleukin-10 are increased. 

So, all of these results show that you can have a better quality of life and a stronger immune function when you're avoiding noise pollution and/or playing yourself good musical tracks at the same time. So again, a shout out to things like Wholetones, shout out to YouTube channels where you can search for sound medicine or healing tracks. And, you can find a variety of tracks, for example, on YouTube that are even directed towards certain organs like the colon or the intestines or the heart or the brain or the thymus because a lot of the things that I talked about when I interviewed the composer Michael Tyrell show that different organs can interact with different frequencies. It's the same premise that's behind tuning fork healing where people use tuning forks and frequencies to target different organs of the body, turns out that you can use music in a very, very similar manner. So, music is good for the immune system and can even help you if you've gotten sick to get better faster.

So next, I want to play for you a song that includes a cameo from my dear wife, Jessa. Now, when I interviewed Dr. Isaac and Erica Jones recently on my podcast, I described how my wife and I were on the brink of a horrible breakup and a divorce about 8 years ago. I won't tell the story in detail here, but ultimately it was our love for each other and our unwavering commitment to this idea of covering everything in love that got us through it. 

So, there's this passage from 1 Corinthians 13 that our entire family has memorized. And, it goes like this, “Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” And, that idea of love covering all, as the name of this song implies, “Cover It All” is the story that I tell in this song. And, if you listen in towards the end of the song, it was kind of funny because while we were producing the song down in Nashville, we had my wife actually call in and record what you hear as her special cameo appearance towards the end of the song. I won't spoiler alert it anymore for you, but you can hear my wife, Jessa, in a cameo at the end of this song via the telephone. And, I think it's a really nice touch at the end of the song. So, enjoy “Cover It All.”

“Cover It All” playing

Alright. Well, I hope you enjoyed “Cover It All.” And now, I want to get into something I've mentioned a couple of times, sound healing. It's a growing field of alternative medicine. It's been around for thousands of years. I remember I first experienced it when I was in Sedona. Surprise, there's sound healing in Sedona, Arizona. And, I sat in for a session with this guy named Porangui. And, Porangui proceeded to blast me of didgeridoos and drums while walking me through breathwork, while having me on this sound healing table and combining it with deep tissue massage therapy. And, that's exactly what sound healing is. It's the use of specific instruments and music and tones and sonic vibrations to balance and heal the body, mind and spirit.

I even have this thing called a BioAcoustic Mat. I got it from this Korean company called BioMat. I lay on it. I have it placed on top of a massage table and I get massages on it, but you could just lay on it even if you weren't getting a massage and you can plug it into any audio player such as a phone and you can play music through the table and your entire body absorbs the music. It's a sound healing mat. You can even, if you wanted to, plug your TV into it or your computer and watch a movie through your body like listen to the movie through your body. It's crazy. It's called BioAcoustic Mat.

Anyways, sound healing uses specific sound frequencies to promote deep rest and nervous system rebalancing and emotional releases and appears to also cause a shift in brain wave states to a more hypnotic meditative theta brain wave state. So, typically if you were going to go in and try a sound therapy treatment even though you can self-inflict this with your own sound healing tools, it's usually like a private yoga studio or private room that you go into, very similar to a massage. And essentially, it's somebody playing different sounds and audios and instruments to treat your body with specific frequencies.

So, Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras is known as the father of music. And, he discovered music intervals and was the first person to prescribe music as medicine. And, he taught how harmonic frequencies, again, the same as we might use in tuning fork therapy could be used for healing. There was another guy named Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. He discovered the neurological effect of what are called binaural beats in 1839. That means you play one frequency in one ear such as 490 Hertz. You play another frequency in the other ear such as 480 Hertz and the Delta between those two frequencies which would be 10 Hertz in this case would shift you into a certain brain wave state. 10 Hertz would be an alpha brain wave state, 10 to 12 Hertz or so.

So, anyways, there was another British osteopathic physician named Sir Peter Guy Manners who developed a machine to produce to produce therapeutic sound vibration for the cells in the body. And so, I had a fantastic interview with a person who wrote what I consider to be the leading book on sound medicine. And, I'll link to that in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/MusicPodcast. But, a few examples of sound medicine would be a sound bath. That's probably one of the more common types of sound therapy where you have one or more musicians playing gongs or Tibetan singing bowls or temple bells or other percussive instruments and those frequencies resonate through your body and your entire body deep down into your bones. You got to try this if you haven't done it before. It responds to the pitch and the tone and the volume and the rhythm of those instruments. There's also guided sound meditations and you could go to YouTube and just look up guided sound meditations and download a track, but typically this is taking you through a full journey using different sounds sometimes with meditative cues for helping you to achieve a deeper state of relaxation.

I personally, again, not to kick a horse to death, really the BrainTap for this because it's not just sound but I'm also getting light stimulation. And, that's in the ear and in eyes. And then, if I decide to plug my BrainTap, because you can do this, into my sound healing table, I can get sound and light and then also sound through my body frequencies through my body at the same time, which is crazy. Self-inflicted sound therapy with humming or omming such as you might experience, there's one breathwork app called the Othership app that I like, and there are self-inflicted sound healing breathwork sessions you can do in that app. There's vibro-acoustic therapy, which I described already that's the mat that I have, that BioAcoustic Mat that uses low-frequency sound waves to stimulate the body. There are what are called acutonics. I've also alluded to that already. That's placing tuning forks on different parts of the body to stimulate acupuncture points, trigger points or other areas of discomfort. Based on the concepts behind acupuncture, each of these points are connected to meridians and chakras through the body. They can affect the entire nervous system. And, by stimulating those points with high-frequency sound waves, you can restore harmony within the body and decrease stress.

So, examples of sound healing instruments would be like Tibetan singing bows, Tambora, that's a traditional Indian instrument you may have heard with four strings, really nice rich resonant harmonic tone, crystal singing bowls, which are different than Tibetan bowls. They're made of quartz crystal. They're easier to play, in my opinion, than Tibetan bowls. If you want to get your own bowl and learn to play it, crystal singing bowls are pretty easy to learn to play. Flutes like bamboo or native American flutes, bells are another really good one. I have a hand pan that I'll sometimes place in my lap, and even though I suck at playing it, it's cool because when you place a hand pan or what's also called a steel tongue drum in your lap and play it, the sounds vibrate and resonate through your entire body. There are frame drums which are thin-framed wooden drums with a drum head stretched across one side tuned at a slow pitch and really good for playing slow hypnotic rhythmic patterns. There's rattlers. There's shakers. There's chimes, the series of tuned bars that ring out when they're struck. There's even rain sticks which for anybody who really does not know how to play a musical instrument and has no musical talent, whatsoever, can turn a stick from side to side in most cases and produce this soft gentle sound that's really good for calming the mind and easing stress. So, I'm a fan of both playing many of these traditional sound healing instruments, but then also listening to them and even using technology like the vibroacoustic mat or the BrainTap to get even deeper amounts of sound healing stimulation.

So anyways, what you can try if you would like to is the next time you're stressed out just take a deep breath in and go, “Hmmm,” or you can omm like, “Ommm” And, just doing a few rounds of that, you'll notice your body really settles down if you're stressed out. So, that all being said, I think it's time for the next song.

This song is called “Pull Me Closer.” I was inspired to write this song when I was on a morning walk and I was praying, which I like to do sometimes when I'm walking in nature. And, I was looking around at the different colors and the canvas of the fields and the trees and the sky and the wind and all the beautiful elements that surrounded me in the moment that all seemed to be pulling me closer to God. And so, I started to bust out these lyrics like “Creation cries, explosions in every shade, pull me closer, it pulls me closer to you” and it turned out to be a really upbeat song when I finished laying out the melody and recording this down in Nashville. So, I think you're going to like this one. It's just meant to show how nature can draw you closer to God. And, I just think it's a really inspirational song, great to play through your sound healing table if you decide to do that. But anyways, enjoy “Pull Me Closer.”

“Pull Me Closer” playing

Alright. Well, I hope you enjoyed “Pull Me Closer.” And again, you can access any of these tracks if you want to add them to Spotify or leave them a Like on YouTube or whatever if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Music. And again, the shownotes for today's show are at BenGreenfieldLife.com/MusicPodcast.

So, I want to focus next on learning, learning and music, because I did an interview a while back with the folks who have this app called Brain.fm and they have specific tracks on Brain.fm that are designed to allow you to learn better. So, it's interesting because you can define music a lot of different ways, but unlike speech, music is not generally considered what we would call semantic. Meaning, it doesn't use words to explain things. So, think how difficult it would be to say something simple like “your left shoe is untied” using only melody and rhythm. Music is instead often used to convey emotions, and it still seems to be able to affect our IQ and our learning.

So, for example, they've shown that people scores on IQ tests improved when they listen to classical music by Mozart. I think there's even tracks for babies. I think they might even be called Baby Mozart, now that I'm thinking about it, that are supposedly designed to increase IQ or learning development in a child when played to a baby in the womb or a school child or whatever. But, subsequent studies since that Mozart study has shown that listening to music doesn't actually make you smarter, but it does raise your level of enjoyment and, as you've already learned, decreases your feelings of stress which can result in better focus and things like improved test scores. In addition, if you listen to a certain type of music or track while you're studying for a test and then replay that same music or track provided that it's not too distracting and is preferably even lyricless, you can actually do better on the test, which is also important, the lyricless part because who knows your teacher or instructor, professor might think that you've hidden cheat codes within the lyrics of the music you're listening to. You never know.

So anyways, just like your muscles, your brain gets stronger the more that you exercise it. That's through a process called neuroplasticity because the brain is easily shaped like plastic. Now, you can measure neuroplasticity with brain imaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging with an MRI or electroencephalogram with an EEG to find out how playing music changes the way that your brain works. Research with that type of technology has shown that auditory visual and motor areas of the brain are specialized in very good musicians in a way that not only increases the size of the brain but also the way that each part of that brain functions.

So, for example, in someone who is well-trained as a musician who plays an instrument frequently, the auditory system processes sound more effectively after musical training. And, you can detect smaller differences in frequency, the number of sound waves per second which makes both speech and music easier to hear. Arguably, you're a better communicator if you're a musician or at least if you're a wannabe musician like me who fiddles around with an instrument on a regular basis. When you play an instrument, brain areas that control the instrument-related muscles and body parts like the fingers or the mouth grow in size. So, more neurons in the brain are devoted to fine-tuning muscle movement in those areas.

Studies have shown that better music ability is related to higher reading scores suggesting this link between how well you hear speech and how well you can map speech sounds to letters. And, there's even an increase in what's called social-emotional awareness which is the ability to be able to identify and manage and express emotions, constructively read what other people are thinking, be more empathetic. And, that's been shown in people who play music frequently or play music together with other people even more specifically. 

So, your auditory system is so highly interconnected with all the other sensory systems of your body that this makes perfect sense. So, songs with repetitive melodies and rhythms, for example, can help you to memorize lists or stories or even processes. I mean, I'll give you a silly example. I used to listen to the band–there's a Christian band called DC Talk in high school and I'd sing along. And, it's crazy how much better you can memorize things when you've associated them with music. I mean, it's been, what, 25 year–more than that. It's been almost 30 years since I listened to DC Talk and I can still remember there's a rap. What's the song? I think it's “Jesus Freak” and they go, “I'm down with the one that's known as the song from the ‘G' to the ‘O' to the ‘D' never done in the flow and the no, on the go, like a pro and up show because  I ain't in the bis for the [01:00:59] ______ got to stay, because I can't, no, I can't take a home anyway, never try when you're right because the Lord is my light and His words is [01:01:03] _____ no, no, no, no, he's alright. Jesus is still alright. Jesus is still alright with me.”

So, yeah, I was a Jesus freak. But, it's so crazy, I can remember that rap off the top of my head and I love the idea of church music and worship music because I can memorize what I consider to be the most important book on the planet using music. So, music's amazing for memorization because the auditory system is so connected to all these other systems in the body. But, it's interesting because again, when you play music in the background, you can learn better, you can focus better, you can read better, you can read other people better. And, I think that tying music into learning and using music to memorize is one of the most powerful weird mysterious ways that the human being tends to operate. The human brain more specifically tends to operate when it comes to music making the learning aspects of your life better.

And so, that being said, I've got another song for you. So, this song is called “You're Great.” And, it starts out with this line, “Bullet trains every broken chain. You are in the gray. Darker days of every single shay, yeah, you are still the same.” So, this is an upbeat kind of driving rock song that describes how God's strength and power is revealed in so many encounters of our daily existence. Had that when your strength starts failing and you feel like you can't keep fighting. Like I say in the song, “There's a reason you can smile and kiss the rain at every mile.” So anyways, I think you'll dig this one. I like it. I feel it gives me huge pick-me-up in the gym literally for a strength training session. And again, I don't listen to music all the time when I'm working out, but this is definitely in the category of what I would call a workout song or a very energetic song. So again, it's called “You're Great.” Enjoy.

“You're Great” playing

Well, folks, that was, if I counted properly, six songs from my new album, “Made For.” In addition to a review on how music can help you exercise, relieve stress, anxiety and pain, benefit the immune system, be used as sound medicine for every cell and organ of the body, impact your intelligence and your learning and your memorization, and a whole lot more. So, if you liked this music, look, I'm not trying to become a professional musician, at least not yet, nor am I trying to get famous with my music, but I would love your feedback. I would love for you to share these tracks or share this podcast if you can with someone who you think it might help inspire because, again, I'm a health and fitness dude. I'm not a musician, but I decided, you know what, what the heck, I'm going to pursue my dream of recording an album and I did it. And yes, I play my guitar every night and I suck, but I stick with it anyways because it makes me happy and I know how good music is for the body and the brain.

So, if you have your own things you want to add, if you want to share my music, if you want to go check out these tracks and give them a Like or download them or add them to a Spotify playlist or whatever else, you can go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/MusicPodcast. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/MusicPodcast. I'm honored to have been able to share with you this track called “Made For.” And, who knows, I'm actually working right now on another song. I don't know if I'll ever do another album, but I plan on singing and songwriting for the rest of my life. 

And, I guess the last thing I should say is one other dream of mine that I haven't fulfilled yet that I'll share with you is I would love to write praise and worship songs that people could sing at churches around the world. There goes my dogs. If you happen to be connected to the praise and worship music industry, reach out to me, leave a comment. Ping me through my website because that's an industry I'm not even tapped into, but I find it so inspirational and would love to collaborate on some songs or I'm constantly writing and learning. And, I want to continue to explore this whole world of music.

So, again, shownotes are at BenGreenfieldLife.com/MusicPodcast. Until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield from BenGreenfieldLife.com signing out. Have an amazing week.

Want free access to comprehensive shownotes, my weekly roundup, cutting-edge research and articles, my top recommendations for everything that you need to hack your life, and much more? Visit BenGreenfieldLife.com.

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In some cases, I might also be an investor in a company I mentioned. I'm the founder, for example, of Kion LLC, the makers of Kion-branded supplements and products which I talk about quite a bit. Regardless of that relationship, if I post or talk about an affiliate link to a product, it is indeed something I personally use, support, and with full authenticity and transparency recommend in good conscience. I personally vet each and every product that I talk about.

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I have finally fulfilled my “bucket list” dream of recording an album in Nashville!

See, I grew up in a very musical family, played the violin for many years, sang in a rock band in high school, sang in the church choir in college, and have even interviewed amazing music icons like Rick Rubin.

Despite not being anything like a “professional musician,” I still love music – whether that be writing and singing my own original songs, singing praise songs and hymns at church, or busting out some Coldplay or Jelly Roll or Elevation Worship or Chris Stapleton (yeah I dig a weird mix of contemporary, pop, Christian, and country) while driving down the highway.

It’s no secret that music is, and always has been, a huge passion of mine. I use music for relaxation, for medicine, for energy, for sleep, for worship, and as a creative outlet for the words and tunes that seem to swirl around my mind at least once a week.

Now, one of my “side projects” of late has been creating my own music via original singing-songwriting, and, as a result, I have finally put the finishing touches on a brand new rock album I recorded in Nashville, entitled “Made For.” You can find the entire album here.

In this podcast, you'll get to hear all my new songs but also how music affects your fitness and exercise capability, how music affects your brain, the surprising impact of sound therapy and music, how music can help you learn, the benefits of music for reducing stress, anxiety, and pain, how to use music to build intelligence, and much more!

Have a question you'd like Ben to answer on the podcast?

Click here

Before asking your question, search in the upper right-hand corner of this website for the keywords associated with your question. Many of the questions we receive have already been answered here at Ben Greenfield Life!

-Ben’s first music album…05:57

-Song 1:

-The benefits of music for exercise: Can music really influence your workout?

-“Running With You”…09:37

  • Great gym track
  • Wrote it for his sons
  • Shout out to Ben’s collaborator on this project Chad Carouthers

-How music can influence your workout…14:09

-Song 2:

-Benefits of music for stress/anxiety/pain:

-“Made For”…21:13

  • Wrote the song as an inspiration to be fully present in what the world is telling you right now
  • Eyes wide open
  • Fearless and hopeful spirit
  • The knowledge that deep down inside God has a great purpose for your life

-Music for stress…25:51

-Song 3:

-Benefits of music for the immune system:

-“Eternal Spark”…34:10

  • A love song Ben wrote for his wife
  • When you look into someone's eyes, you can see deep into their soul
  • There is an invisible spark inside each of us

-Music and the immune system…42:43

-Song 4:

-Sound therapy and sound medicine:

-“Cover It All”…47:20

  • Ben’s story about being on the brink of a horrible divorce
  • They went through it thanks to their mutual love and commitment
  • 1 Corinthians 13
  • Love can cover it all
  • Ben’s wife Jessa in a cameo at the end part of the song

-Sound healing…52:56

-Song 5:

-Impact of music on intelligence: Music and Learning: Does Music Make You Smarter?

-“Pull Me Closer”…59:43

  • Ben wrote this on his morning walk, while praying
  • Looking at the beauty of nature
  • Nature can draw you closer to God

-Learning and music…1:05:02

-Song 6:

-“You're Great”…1:10:25

  • Driving rock song
  • Describes how God's strength and power is revealed in so many encounters of our daily existence
  • When your strength starts failing and you feel like you can't keep fighting

-Wrapping up…1:14:17

  • Ben asks for feedback
  • Ben would love to write praise and worship songs

Resources mentioned:

– “Made For” Music Album:

– Podcasts And Articles:

– Books:

– Other Resources:

Upcoming Events:

  • Couples Collective: October 25th – 29th, 2023

Couples Collective is an exclusive and immersive way to explore health, wellness, and mindset with your significant other. Jessa and I will be leading a health optimization and relationships workshop, alongside many other awesome couples. This is a small event, and access requires you to interview with event-holder OWN IT to ensure a right fit. However, for those who are said fit, this event is designed to bring you into deeper union within your relationship and onward into greater connection with your life, love, health, and happiness. I'm looking for 6 to 7 powerful couples to come join me at the event – are you one of them? Learn more here.

  • Elements of Vitality: December 8th, 2023

Return to the Elements of Vitality—this will be the second time my good friend Dr. John Lieurance and I collaborate to bring you the most effective and cutting-edge health and wellness advice, protocols, and some of our favorite tools. If you’re into health and wellness, and you want to stay on top of all of the cutting-edge, latest, and greatest innovations and protocols, you don’t want to miss this event. Learn more here.

Special Announcements…


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