People often ask me, when they first see the word “entrainment” if I meant “entertainment.” We all know what entertainment is, and because I am a performing musician, people assume that I have misspelled the word entertainment, but no, entrainment is very, very different!
Think of a time when you went to a concert of any kind and when the music started, the rhythmic nature of it made you start clapping, tapping or moving your whole body in synch with the rhythm! That’s entrainment! The phenomenon of entrainment was named in
In the Journal “Cortex” this was written as the abstract of an article on entrainment:
Wherever human beings live, and however they may organize their affairs, they gather
from time to time to sing and dance together, often in a ritual setting. In doing so they
synchronize their voices and bodily movements to a shared, repeating interval of time, the
musical pulse, beat or tactus. We take this capacity to “entrain” to an evenly paced stimulus.
(isochrony) so much for granted that it may come as a surprise to learn that from
a biological point of view such behavior is exceptional. But it is not altogether unique.
So how does this apply to surgery? One of the reasons that music is so powerful during surgery is that the pulse of the music entrains your heartbeat and breathing, even when you’re under general anesthesia. Many people believe that when you’re under anesthesia you can’t actually “hear” the music. That’s where the difference between entertainment and entrainment comes in.
The idea began to take shape in my mind that some people in comas had been observed for years, tapping a toe or foot or finger, in rhythm with music being played or sung in the room. Some people would awaken from lengthy comas, reporting that they ha indeed heard and appreciated music that was played or sung to them while in a coma.
After researching similar phenomena during surgery, I found that hundreds of people each year awaken from general anesthesia saying that they heard not only conversations during their surgery, but also music that was being played through speakers. They also heard, during certain surgeries, the sound of drills, hammers and saws!! This is when I began wondering if music that would start the entrainment process, played through super-lightweight headphones, might not be a wonderful thing.
Today, our Surgical Serenity Solution consists of just that. After researching the very best music for entrainment, I have come up with a playlist that is soothing, comforting, and starts the entrainment process. If you are having surgery in the near future, please consider getting yourself some!