Interestingly, the word health comes from Old English hal, a root word signifying whole, healing, -hale, and inhaling.

Heal, in Northern Middle English, means “to make sound,” to become healthy again. We use the word sound—a synonym for health and wholeness—to signify basic vitality and the unshakable foundation for whatever we do. Thus we speak of sound judgment, sound advice, sound investments, and sound business procedures.

When things are going smoothly, we are in tune and in harmony with others and the world around us. When things are stuck, we are out of tune and out of sync. In romance or relationships of any kind, we hope to set the right tone, strike a sympathetic chord, or communicate on the same wavelength. When the unexpected happens, we decide to play it by ear. We admire the executive who can orchestrate a deal and cheer the team that can administer the opposition a sound beating.

When we need a lawyer to navigate through the complexities of modern life, we want one who doesn’t miss a beat. On the psychiatrist’s couch, the board of the local PTA, or at a job interview, we strive to assert our identity as strong, independent persons, train ourselves to develop our personalities, and carefully construct our persona or public mask—all from the Greek roots per son, or “the sound passes through.” Although we may not see ourselves as particularly musical, music metaphors and sonic imagery permeate our lives.

The Mozart Effect

absurd (from the Latin surdus,
meaning “not able to hear” or “to deafen”)

According to a survey, listening absorbs an average of 55 percent of our daily communication time, while speaking occupies 23 percent, reading 13 percent, and writing just 9 percent.

Gregorian chant creates quiet in our minds and can reduce stress.

Slower Baroque music, such as Bach, Handel, Vivaldi or Corelli, can create mentally stimulating environments for creativity and new innovations.

Classical music, such as Haydn and Mozart, often improves concentration and memory when played in the background.

Romantic music, such as Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky , Chopin and Liszt, enhances our senses and increases a sense of sympathy and love.

Impressionist music, such as Debussy, Faure and Ravel, can unlock dreamlike images that put us in touch with our unconscious thoughts and belief systems.

Jazz, blues, soul or calypso music can uplift and inspire us, releasing deep joy or even deep sadness, conveying wit and affirming our common humanity.

Heavy metal and hip-hop music excites our nervous system, and sometimes leads us into acting out dynamic behavior and self-expression.

Religious and sacred music such as hymns and gospel moves us to feel grounded in the moment, and leads to deep peace and spiritual awareness. Sacred music often helps us to transcend pain.