Enter a world of rest and peace, where your body can relax and your soul can heal from the tumult and stress of daily life. Originally conceived as music to accompany reflexology and massage sessions, this full hour of relaxing, calming music with a rich Jewish flavor serves a purpose similar to when the young Dovid played the harp to soothe King Shaul’s nerves (or possibly heal his depression). Reb Shaya’s masterful improvisations on violin and other solo instruments are musically captivating as well as undeniably therapeutic.
There is little question today of music’s healing qualities, and its direct effect on the health of living things. However you choose to interpret it, considerable research has been done on the effect of different types of music on the growth of plants, confirming that plants flourish when exposed to beautiful, calm music and shrivel up when exposed to distorted, harsh music, when compared to plants exposed to no music at all. So It’s time that Jewish music be made for this purpose, especially considering the precedent set by King David when, as a shepherd, he played his harp to calm the King.
Comments from listeners:
“When I sat down to listen to this disk, it brought me much relaxation and mental clarity.”
“Everyone at home wants to listen to this disk to relax.”
“It cured my headache.”
“Our baby wasn’t feeling well and was agitated in the car on the way to the doctor. As soon as we put on this disk, she fell asleep.”
“Really helps to heal the body physically as well as the mind.” Avigail P., Beit Shemesh
The inspiration for “Healing for the Soul” was a request by my wife Miriam, who was then studying holistic massage and reflexology, for music to accompany treatments with a Jewish flavor, but without recognizable Jewish tunes that might bring up emotional associations. These treatments take about an hour, and to relax the patient, they play some generic “new age” music in the background, and it really doesn’t add to the Jewish atmosphere. However, playing a typical Jewish music CD softly doesn’t work either, for two reasons: 1) there are fast tunes interspersed with slow ones that ruin the continuity, and 2) patients sometimes have subconscious reactions to melodies they already know, which can interfere with the energy flow of the session. So some practitioners felt a need for something Jewish that would be continuous, about an hour long, and without recognizable melodies.
Personally, I feel that Jewish music must be melodious, but not necessarily in a structured, memorable way. Many Chassidic compositions have long “recitative” like sections, and cantorial pieces are also like that. Being melodious, they are bound to have some emotional content, but as long as it’s upbeat and positive, I figured that would not be detrimental. Thus, I came up with the current album.
Although I certainly hope it is usable for its original purpose (and Miriam has already gotten lots of positive feedback from her clients), I feel that it transcends that function to enter a level which has an important precedent in Jewish music.
The therapeutic aspect of music is clearly acknowledged in the story of King Shaul and Dovid. The latter used to moonlight from his job as shepherd of his father’s sheep to enter the palace as a talented musician who could relax the king with his pleasant harp playing. Thus, soothing the nerves was apparently a recognized function of music at the time. There are rabbonim today who, though they may be opposed music as entertainment since the destruction of the Temple, allow its use for relaxation purposes.
The compositions presented on this album are improvisational and spontaneous, not inspired by any specific meditation or religious text. The names and descriptions of the various tracks were written afterward as a personal response to the kind of feeling I get when listening to them, and a vague recollection of what I was thinking about as I played them. Every listener will probably feel differently; these are only suggestions, and encouragement to think a little into the meaning of the music, because I feel that there is considerable depth here. However, you can just as easily simply listen to them in a quiet place and let them take their subconscious effect.
I sincerely hope this music will provide some relief and support when you’re feeling anxious, agitated, or generally down, bringing calm and hope into the relentless, inevitable pressures of our lives. To delve a little deeper into the subject of relaxation in spiritual terms, read by post about Musicianship and Life.