The promotion of wellbeing through sound (part 2).

The promotion of wellbeing through sound (part 2) discusses the latest research in the use of sound for decreasing pain and increasing wellbeing.


Our connection with sound begins early in the womb. All the major structures of the ear are in place between 23 and 25 weeks of gestation and the unborn infant can perceive and react to auditory information from approximately 26 weeks of life. From this stage the cochlea begins fine tuning for specific frequencies in order to translate vibratory acoustic stimuli into an electric signal for processing, or wiring the brain through sound (McMahon, Wintermark & Lahav, 2012). In other words, at just over the half way mark of development, the baby in the womb is using sound to understand the world around them.


This also includes developing the ability to get ‘in sync’ with the world. For example, studies in early development have demonstrated that in infancy the new born is capable of physical entrainment to music (Eerola, 2010). This occurs through the brain following tones, which is known as the frequencies following response. The various frequencies (or Hz) are interpreted as patterns that cause stimulation, through the formation of neural pathways and the rhythm of the sound, which causes the two oscillating systems (the brain and the sound) to lock into phase so that they vibrate in harmony. It is the same phenomena that occurs when clicking clocks synchronize when placed close together, or when a tuning fork synchronizes its frequency vibration to be in harmony with another tuning fork that is struck (Neimark, 2004), or the way crickets all synchronize in harmonious collective chirping. However, when it occurs in humans it creates feelings of wellbeing.


Research has also demonstrated the positive healing properties associated with sound. For example, research has found that sound can promote growth and reduce disease in plants (Hassanien et al, 2014). Additionally, a study with rats has also demonstrated that applying low-frequency ultra-sound to wounds on the pallet of the mouth, increases healing ability in animals (Maeda et al, 2013). Moreover, listening to music or certain environmental sounds can also reduce pain (Mercadie, Mick & Bigand, 2015). Finally, a study by Alvarson, Wiens & Nilsson (2010) found that after experiencing psychological stress, listening to a mixture of natural sounds from a fountain and tweeting birds, produced a faster recovery response, than that of the control group that listened to suburban environmental noises. Overall, these studies show that we can use certain sounds to promote growth and healing while decreasing the feelings of pain, and simultaneously increase both mental and physical wellbeing.


In conclusion, we know that sound is one of the first senses used to create our own inner world – or reality. We truly are wired for sound! This is why it’s easy for very young toddlers to sway to the beat or get their groove on so young – and why they feel happy when they are in that state, or mood. This natural synchronization to certain sounds and beats is also the reason why listening to certain sounds can be so comforting, and therapeutic for both our physical and mental wellbeing. Research has confirmed through a variety of different studies that we can use sound to increase our wellbeing. So next time you are feeling a little too stressed out – try taking a time out to simply sit and listen to some of your favourite tunes as a way of meditating. And remember to allow and encourage your children to do the same.


Author: Elizabeth Mulhane



Alvarsson, J. J., Wiens, S., & Nilsson. M. E. (2010). Stress recovery during exposure to

nature sound and environmental noise. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 7(3), 1036-

1046, doi:10.3390/ijerph7031036

Eerola, T. (2013). Review of Strong experiences with music: Music is much more than just

music. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 23(1), 49-51. doi:10.1037/a0030781

Hassanien, R. H., Hou, T., Li, Y., & Li, B. (2014). Review: Advances in effects of sound

waves on plants. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 13,335-348. doi:10.1016/S2095-


McMahon, E., Wintermark, P., & Lahav, A. (2012). Auditory brain development in

premature infants: the importance of early experience. Annals of the New York Academy

of Sciences, 125217-24. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06445.x

Mercadíe, L., Mick, G., & Bigand, E. (2015). Original article: Effects of listening to music

versus environmental sounds in passive and active situations on levels of pain and fatigue

in fibromyalgia. Pain Management Nursing. doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2015.01.005

Neimark, J. (2004). Sound healing. Natural Health, 34(3), 70. DataBase: MasterFILEPremier.

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Elizabeth Mulhane B.PsycSci(Hons)

The promotion of wellbeing through music (Part 2).

Music has been well researched as a facilitator for increasing wellbeing. According to Rickard (2014), irrespective of culture, music has a profound positive influence on enhancing wellbeing through multiple routes, for both hedonic and eudemonic reasons – emphasising several elements of Seligma’s (2011) PERMA theory. For example, research has shown that music can enhance positive emotion (Juslin et al, 2008) and be used to manage and regulate moods (Lonsdale & North, 2001). It can foster social cohesiveness; or offer comfort and meaning to a person (Richard, 2014). Music can also produce effortless absorption or flow (engagement) within an individual, which in turn can facilitate a way to transcend everyday life, through achieving cognitively stimulated peaks, or spiritual experiences through sound (Eerola, 2013).


Music can assist in forming personality, self-identity and relationships (Rentfrow, 2012). In early education settings, teachers have also successfully used music and rhythm as a tool for developing language skills and building memory (Foran, 2009). Listening to melodies has a significantly positive effect on active practice and overnight consolidation of procedural memory (Cash, Allen, Simmon & Duke, 2014) and numerous studies on the controversial Mozart effect (Pietschnig, Voracek & Formann, 2010) have demonstrated that listening to classical music from this composer can lead to improved social, cognitive and physical development in young children (Mattar, 2013); concentration in adolescents (Taylor & Rowe, 2012) and spatial-temporal abilities in geriatric patients (Cacciafesta et al, 2010), while also reducing epileptic episodes in young children (Lin et al. 2012); and tinnitus in adults (Attanasio et al, 2012).


A study by North, Hargreaves and O’Neil (2000), found that the average teenager between 13 to 14 years, listens to over two and a half hours of music each day. They concluded that through the difficulties of adolescence, music can empower identity and satisfy emotional needs. Overall, studies suggests that people value music over other leisure activities due to the versatility music has at serving an individual’s different needs, which can change over time (Lonsdale & North, 2001). Preferences that cause strong experience with music (SEM) depend on a complex interplay between the music, the person and the situation, and research has demonstrated that any kind of music, from drumming, electronic or pop, melody, form, timbre, rhythm and lyrics, has the potential to be a SEM (Eerola, 2013).


In conclusion, in order to enhance wellbeing in children we should be exposing them to music. Music facilities the growth of intellect in various ways and we should encourage children to listen to melodies and other forms of music on a regular basis. Allowing the child to develop their own preferences of music genre helps the child form their own identify. This in turn will assist them through transitioning the difficult adolescent years.


(Insert is a picture of one of my own daughters. Her full time profession is being a primary school teacher, however, she has always been passionate about singing and writing/performing her own music. You can find more info about her songs on her Facebook page: Vienna’s Notebook ).



Attanasio, G., Cartocci, G., Covelli, E., Ambrosetti, E., Martinelli, V., Zaccone, M., Ponzanetti, A., Gueli, N., Filipo, R., Cacciafesta, M. (2012). The Mozart effect in patients suffering from tinnitus. Acta Oto-Laryngologica, 132(11), 1172-1177. doi:10.3109/00016489.2012.684398

Cacciafesta, M., Ettorre, E., Amici, A., Cicconetti, P., Martinelli, V., Linguanti, A., Baratta, A., Verrusio, W., & Marigliano, V. (2010). New frontiers of cognitive rehabilitation in geriatric age: the Mozart Effect (ME). Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 51, 79-82. doi:10.1016/j.archger.2010.01.001 [Abstract].

Cash, C. D., Allen, S. E., Simmons, A. L., & Duke, R. A. (2014). Effects of model performances on music skill acquisition and overnight memory consolidation. Journal of Research in Music Education, 62(1), 89-99.

Eerola, T. (2013). Review of Strong experiences with music: Music is much more than just music. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 23(1), 49-51. doi:10.1037/a0030781

Foran, L. (2009). Listening to music: Helping children regulate their emotions and improve learning in the classroom. Education Horizons, 88(1), 51-58. Retrieved from

Juslin, P. N., Liljeström, S., Västfjäll, D., Barradas, G., & Silva, A. (2008). An experience sampling study of emotional reactions to music: Listener, music, and situation. Emotion, 8(5), 668-683. doi:10.1037/a0013505

Lonsdale, A. J., & North, A. C. (2011). Why do we listen to music? A uses and gratifications analysis. Br J Psychology, 102(1), 108-34. doi: 10.1348/00712610X506831. (Abstract)

Mattar, J. (2013). The effect of Mozart’s music on child development in a Jordanian kindergarten. Education, 133(3), 370-377

North, A. C., Hargreaves, D. J., & O’Neill, S. A. (2000). The importance of music to adolescents. Br J Educ Psychol. 70, (Pt2), 255-72. [Abstract]. Retrieved from

Pietschnig, J., Voracek, M., & Formann, A. K. (2010). Mozart effect–Shmozart effect: Ameta-analysis. Intelligence, 383, 14-323. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2010.03.001 [Abstract].

Rickard, N. (2014). Editorial for “Music and Well-being” special issue of PWB. Journal of Psychology and Well-Being, 4, 26. doi: 10.1186/s13612-014-0026-3. Retrieved from

Seligman, M (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness. New York, NY: Free Press.

Rentfrow, P. J. (2012). The role of music in everyday life: Current directions in the social psychology of music. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6(5), 402-416. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00434.x

Taylor, J. M., & Rowe, B. J. (2012). The “Mozart Effect” and the mathematical connection. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 42(2), 51-66.

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The promotion of wellbeing through music (Part 1).

The promotion of wellbeing through music is a research based blog discussing the benefits of sound.


Listening to music can be considered a mediator of meditation since the activity can be classified as an attention-related experience through a person’s ability to become absorbed or engaged with the music. Additionally, physical and cognitive entrainment (synchronizing to the rhythm detected in music) are enjoyable activities (Grosse, 2013) that stimulate the release of dopamine (a pleasure chemical) within the striatum (an evolutionary ancient part of the brain).  Therefore, since meditation increases eudemonic wellbeing and the pleasure from rhythm increases hedonic wellbeing, listening to music can have a twofold effect on producing feelings of wellbeing (Salimpoor et al., 2013).


According to scientific research the human brain has evolved to receive pleasure from music due to its ability to predict and expect the sound patterns, which suggests rhythmic synchronization to music and other metrically regular sounds is an innate human quality (Zentner & Eerola, 2010). Based on these research findings it may be that the human brains’ natural capacity to seek patterns, proximity, similarity or closure, known as the Gestalt principles (Sabar, 2012), results from the pleasure or feelings of wellbeing that the brain experiences (due to dopamine release) during this activity. Furthermore, after birth, both physical or mental rhythmic synchronization (entrainment), and the pleasure this brings may be a result of the brain associating beat or rhythm with the innate feeling of wellbeing experienced within the safety of the womb, due to being surrounded by the sound of a mother’s heartbeat. Hence, after birth, and throughout life, human beings may be unconsciously driven to seek comfort and/or pleasure through listening to rhythmic sounds.


In conclusion, since wellbeing can be enhanced through listening to enjoyable sounds due to the minds innate tendency to seek out rhythm for its own personal pleasure or feelings of comfort, playing music for young infants may promote self-soothing abilities in a peaceful way. This will also naturally encourage the development of meditation. Additionally, using music as a technique for promoting self-soothing, meditation and wellbeing can be incorporated into a regular routine for children of all ages.



Grosse, S. J. (2013). Brain gym in the pool. Aquatic Research and Education, 7, 72-80. Retrieved from   

Sabar, S. (2012). Review of Gestalt therapy: 100 key points and techniques. Gestalt Review, 16(2), 203-206.

Salimpoor, V., Van Den Bosch, I., Kovacevic, N., Mcintosh, A., Dagher, a., &  Zatorre, R. (2013). Interactions between the nucleus accumbens and  auditory cortices predict music reward value. Science, 340(6129), 216-219. doi:10.1126/science.1231059

Zentner, M., & Eerola, T. (2010). Rhythmic engagement with music in infancy. Proceedings    of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(13), 5768-5773. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1000121107

Additionally research on music for children

Babies’ brains benefit from music lessons, researchers find

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Elizabeth Mulhane

Loving kindness or a mindful empty practice!

Loving kindness or a mindful empty practice discusses the true essence of what a mindfulness practice should be through looking into the various teachings.


In Buddhism desire is often interchanged with the word greed. When written in this context the meaning of desire is to want things that one is not in need of. Conceptualizing desire in this way can also refer to the sensual side of desire, which is considered a hindrance in Buddhism.


Once the desire is obtained the individual soon loses interest due to the waning pleasure the desire has provided and they then begin to desire something else. In Buddhism this constant craving that is driven by one desire after another is a poisonous mental state to exist in. As such, the individual must learn to break the cycle of suffering through putting an end to seeking empty short lived gratifications/cravings/desires.


The Buddhist technique for stopping unwholesome desires and unwholesome thinking is to live according to the mental disciple obtained through the 8 fold path. Mindfulness is a key part to successfully following this disciple, which may lead to peace of mind, or enlightenment. However, western society has exaggerated mindfulness meditation (excluding the other 7 folds of the path) as the answer to achieving a greater sense of wellbeing. Unfortunately, focusing on the breath in order to return the mind to present moment awareness of non-judgmentally viewing reality is not the way to achieve high levels of flourishing. Although, it is the way in part, without the fullness of the teaching, the way in part will only lead to a temporal experience of peace through the existence of emptiness, where the individual has emptied out the darkness (or unwholesome desires and thoughts) and remained empty!


This empty state of mind can occur when the individual does not acquired a deeper understanding of the self, or the desires within the self. Therefore, in looking for a way to end their own personal suffering, they have emptied themselves out but not filled themselves up, and have merely become an empty vessel, only striving towards self-gratification for the ego. Although an empty vessel may make the loudest sound, it still only bellows out emptiness to whoever chooses to listen. They have merely and momentarily turned off desire, which cannot last since we are born with the will to desire. Due to ignorance they have run from suffering, rather than embracing the truth of wholesome suffering. And as we know from the example of Christ and Biblical teachings, long suffering is a fruit of the spirit of light.


So, no matter how much mindfulness this person practices – they will remain in an unwell state of mind and will not find a sense of wellbeing because they have not found a way to be filled with the light. That is, in order to develop high levels of wellbeing the individual must not merely be emptied out, but most importantly then be filled up with the light, and/or the wholesome desires that the light brings. Wholesome desires lead to wholesome thoughts. Wholesome thoughts bring a sense of wellbeing – even through the times where the individual may experience long suffering.


While Buddhism highlights the need for a cessation of craving, due to the suffering craving or desire causes, we must understand that craving or desire and suffering are qualities that exist in both the light and the dark.


Going deeper through the Kabbalist understanding of desire

The Jewish Kabbalah highlights the need to understand desire at the soul level of experience. If we wish to control our thoughts we must realise that the unwholesome suffering that our thoughts can create is manifested from our unwholesome desires. That is, Kabbalah teachings highlight the fact that thought is not the starting point of our desires and therefore our actions. It is the desire that the individual first feels that produces thoughts, which lead to actions.


Our thoughts cannot change our desires and our thoughts surrounding a particular desire will continue to expand as we want or need that desire to be acted upon, or experienced in reality. Therefore, since we cannot simply turn off desire, if we want to experience wholesome thoughts that lead to worthy actions, or life experiences, we must learn how to desire wholesome things. But in order to do this we must first learn to feel a certain way. Because, as mentioned, feeling creates thought – not the other way around. Loving kindness is a feeling we need to cultivate.


In this teaching the ultimate goal is to transition from the natural state of wanting to receive good things to a higher level of existence, or upper level of existing in a state of wanting to bestow good things.


The way

In order to experience wholesome desire and therefore to experience wholesome thinking we must meditate with intention. That is, we use meditation to purposefully experience the love we feel in our heart. First we experience love through feelings for those we already love. We then build on this experience by spending time in that feeling, and extending that feeling of love towards others, which includes our enemies. In this way, we feel a growing sense of love for all. This leads to feeling a wholesome desire of love for one another. In turn, this leads to experiencing wholesome thoughts, which leads to preforming wholesome actions. This is the state of the upper level of experience, or the outpouring of the light, which allows us to feel a sense of flourishing and in turn continues to perpetuate the cycle of the way.


So there you have it – mindfulness is an empty practices unless you also take time out to meditate on feeling an inner experience of love! If you have been practicing mindfulness please contemplate whether you have been practicing Loving kindness or a mindful empty practice!


Are you ready to experience a loving kindness meditation?

You may wish to study versus written about love. This is called self-seclusion meditation. You simply sit quietly in a place where you will not be interrupted and read a verse (usually written by a spiritual teacher) and then take time to think about what you have read. People often use prayer to begin these types of meditations as a way of seeking guidance from the light within.

You may like to read and meditate on a variety of religious sources.


Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam


Learn to develop mental imagery and a way to bestow love (great for ages 3 and up)

The Dandelion Meditation


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May loving kindness grow in your heart and bring you inner peace.

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Elizabeth Mulhane

Hedonic and Eudaimonic Wellbeing

Determining wellbeing – Understanding hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing.

In order to investigate wellbeing, it is necessary to understand two conceptually different elements that determine wellbeing. These elements are the hedonic and eudaimonia aspects of wellbeing (Seligman, 2011: Berridge & Kringelbach, 2011). Hedonic corresponds psychologically to a state of pleasure or feeling good, through a release of chemicals in the brain. This can occur through basic sensory pleasures received through food and physical arousal, or through social pleasures. Eudaimonia corresponds to a cognitive perception of morally living well, in which the individual feels their life is valuable, meaningful and engaging. Further more, Berridge and Kringelbach (2011), suggest that the three basic underlying psychological drivers of wellbeing, whether perceived consciously or not, are wanting, liking and learning. That is, likes produces hedonic pleasure, wanting creates motivation for reward, and learning creates mental associations, representations and predictions of future rewards, based on experience.


High levels of wellbeing creates happy, balanced kids


Controversy of how to measure wellbeing also includes whether or not theories of wellbeing should include both objective eudaimonic elements and subjective hedonic elements, Ryan, Curren & Deci (2013), have pointed out that living in a eudemonic way, or in accordance with a neo-Aristotelian concept of flourishing, through self-improvement, incorporates frequent subjective hedonic aspects of positive emotion, happiness, and pleasure. To illustrate this point further, research has consistently found that individual’s with high levels of wellbeing score higher for both eudaimonic and hedonic elements, meaning they co-occur at high rates, in happy people (Diener eta al, 2008).


In accordance with Ryan et al., (2013), it seems evident that the over-lap between higher order (eudaimonic) experiences of accomplishment and lower order hedonic experiences of pleasure are both experienced through personal achievement and/or through engagement in artistic, intellectual, musical, altruistic and transcendent experiences (Berridge & Kringelbach, 2011). Moreover, research has increasingly provided convincing evidence for the essential role of behaviour in wellbeing. For example, morbidity and mortality are associated with certain types of undesirable behaviour (such as physical inactivity, tobacco use and poor diet), which create enormous health care cost (Patrick & Williams, 2012). This also highlights the value of the eudaimonic elements of wellbeing motivating behaviour, over hedonic pleasures motivating behaviour (Ryan et al., 2013).



Berridge, K. C., & Kringelbach, M. L. (2011). Building a neuroscience of pleasure and well-being. Psychology of Well-Being; Theory, Research and Practice, 1:3. Retrieved from

Diener, E., Ng, W., Harter, J., & Arora, R. (2010). Wealth and happiness across the world: material prosperity predicts life evaluation, whereas psychosocial prosperity predicts positive feeling. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(1), 52-61.

Patrick, H., and William, G, C. (2012). Self-determination theory; its application to health behaviour and complementarity with motivational interviewing. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9:18. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-9-18 Retrieved from

Ryan, R. M., Curren, R. R., & Deci, E. L. (2013). What humans need: Flourishing in Aristotelian philosophy and self-determination theory. In A. S. Waterman, A. S. Waterman (Eds.). The best within us: Positive psychology perspectives on eudaimonia (pp. 57-75). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/14092-004

Seligman, M (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness. New York, NY: Free Press.


Author Elizabeth Mulhane

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Elizabeth Mulhane B.PsySc(Hons)