You’ve heard me say much about spirituality, the numinous and the transcendent. I am always delighted to debate against the misconceptions and madcap views of reality, which are commonplace in today’s society: and those of you who know me also know that I am contemptuous of those new-age fools who corrupt human experience with their asinine, harebrained madness – because it is this experience, in which I’m interested.
Throughout the ages, human beings have looked to transcend the limitations of their condition; this appears to researchers to be a device, which being innate in the psyche of man has helped us towards social and evolutionary success. Many have argued that transcendence, or the endeavour of operating beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience can be achieved in different ways. Mystical and mental practices like meditation are ways to induce a mode of consciousness and realize some benefit for the individual engaging in it. There are dozens of styles of meditation, many of which have been the subject of inconsistent scientific research while being abundant in religious exercise. Whatever form of meditation or mental practice one engages in, the outcome, as mentioned before; is to achieve a higher state of consciousness or a trance state, which according to practitioners and some neuro-scientific findings can promote psychological and physical health.
According to “the state theory,” the common and controversial science of hypnosis is a way to produce altered states of consciousness and awareness in willing subjects. These “states” can be induced by the correct combination of communication and environmental factors. Many scientific studies have found that hypnosis or some forms of enhanced communication make use of the placebo effect (non-deceptive) to provide beneficial outcomes to subjects. However, outside the scope of hypnosis and meditation (a self guided form of hypnosis or auto suggestion) these altered states of mind seem to fit into the natural range of human experience.
Please send me your last pair of shoes, worn out with dancing as you mentioned in your letter, so that I might have something to press against my heart. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Let’s now think of music, which has an undeniable, and profound effect on the human psyche. Most, if not all cultures and civilizations have expressed their feelings and emotions artistically through music or singing. Its rhythmically repeating patterns are pleasing to the human ear and in context, soothing to the emotional brain – it is in essence, hypnotic. Many of those who indulge in the pleasures of listening to music and dancing, make strong claims to their experience as being trance like or “loosing themselves in the music.” Furthermore, there are countless studies on the effect of prenatal exposure to different genres of music.
As a psychology enthusiast I am intrigued by the effect of music on the human brain and consequently on the human heart. (The heart, in this case is a metaphor for the emotional part of the brain or the information processing done by the anterior cingulated cortex and the amygdala.) As a simple man, I am capable of becoming enthralled by my favorite song that I hardly notice the cardiovascular stress dancing puts on my heart (in this case, the physical organ pumping more blood to the brain and other parts of my anatomy when dancing with a very attractive partner). I must admit that I absolutely share humanity’s love for music and dancing, and I often involve myself in the dancing arts. As Nietzsche said “Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education.” It appears to be a harmonious set of ideomotor responses induced by pleasing rhythmic patterns and well-structured acoustics. It is also, in my layman opinion, a gracious expression of the possible state of self-transcendence, in which feelings and emotions of different kinds are enhanced to superfluous levels, or simply made to disappear – the benefits of which are immeasurable.
I love music, I love to dance