Today I participated in a Shift Network course led by Christine Stevens called "Relax with the Healing Flute" and I wanted to share some key takeaways.
She touched on two studies offering scientific evidence of how playing the flute works as a vehicle for shifting patterns, trauma and disease of the body. Especially when improvising, the part of the brain responsible for self-criticism and judgment turns off — while the part of the brain connected to the neurophysiology of enlightenment lights up.
Dr Charles Limb's study took professional jazz musicians and had them play two different ways (sheet music vs. improvisation) while monitoring their brain activity. The results were fascinating. The improvised music "turned off" the brain (lateral prefrontal deactivation) while the practiced sheet music "turned on" the brain (medial prefrontal activation). To take this one step further, the part of the brain responsible for self criticism was deactivated and the part for enlightenment was activated.
An additional study was by Joan Borysenko on the ego and present moment with the “neuropsychology of enlightenment." It is based on the fact that the brain can't think while improvisation, so instead it is receiving and listening.
"If you can breathe, you can play the flute" - Christine Stevens
However, even if you are just listening, you are activating your “mirror neurons" which means by simply watching the flute, 30% of your brain is lighting up as a simple receiver.
The flute is not just beautiful for humans, but is also seen in nature. We are currently in Fall (well here in California at least everything is Pumpkin Spice), and it's a great time to play with the whistling winds and falling leaves. Open your heart (and your lungs), set your intention - and play!