“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” ― Mozart
As a Creative Arts Therapist trained in Music Therapy, I feel very comfortable being in both the sound and silence of the therapy session. Whether the sounds are produced verbally or non-verbally, I experience the silent spaces in between as an important place to be; for both myself and my client.
The unique quality of the silence is that it integrates time and place. The silence in music is measurable in time and it is a place in which to be for an amount of time. Music contains the potential for both.
In Neuroscience: Idle minds, Kerri Smith writes: Raichle favors the idea that activity in the resting state helps the brain to stay organized. The connections between neurons are continually shifting as people age and learn, but humans maintain a sense of self throughout the upheaval.
Which self is being maintained?
My approach to therapy is based on a developmental, sensory model which says that from the time we’re in the womb we experience the world through our senses. Human beings are described as “sentient”. Sentient is defined as “having sensation or feeling”. As sensory beings, we cannot feel, perceive and experience without the information we get from our senses. This is then the basis of our associations, meanings and choices. In this way a self is formed.
A traumatic experience, especially one that occurs at an early age, shakes us up from the core. Our sense of self and the world we live in is shattered, meaning is lost. The work that takes place post trauma is a healing that involves rebuilding, reframing and redefining. Sometimes based on the age of the trauma survivor it means building, framing and defining for the first time.
When Raichle speaks of humans maintaining a sense of self throughout development, it is a non-traumatized self. The self that develops post trauma is the survivor self; brave, vigilant, protective, wounded.
How can music be part of a trauma survivors healing?
Music without words is the sensory container in which the self can realign and merge anew. Within the structure of music, with its clear beginning, middle and end, the boundaries of the container are formed. The size of the container is determined by the complexity of the musical elements found in the piece; how many melodic voices (all instrumental) are used, how many instruments, how many changes in harmony, tempo and rhythm and how much tension is experienced before the anticipated resolution, all influence the size and space of the music container within which the therapy work takes place.
The moments of silence and pause allow the individual the breathing space to experience that resting state that helps the brain to organize.
It is within this sensory environment that the healing takes place. The individual is held by the music and the therapeutic environment and can experience the self in safe way. The information is processed, new neuron connections are formed, and the individual has the opportunity to create new associations, new meanings, at the same time as making sense of some of the older ones.
Inspiration for the post title – That Place of Rest. The Pause, can be found here