Never underestimate the power of music. Certain music can take you over, sending you into an altered state of bliss where there is no needless thoughts, no worries, no obstacles. You become free, if only for the length of the song.
Other times, like when it’s too loud or the wrong kind of music for any given venue, it can cause aggravation, which also proves its power. Have you ever been in a restaurant where the music is so loud it becomes the topic of conversation, or people at the table are dancing or singing along? That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the listener. Sometimes it’s just plain distracting. Certain songs hold memories that will never separate from the song. Your favorite song can easily become your least favorite with a negative experience attached to it.
But if you learn to use it and manipulate it to serve your needs, music can set the tone for just about any occasion. This morning my teenaged son needed to be up and out earlier than usual to get to detention for being late for school. He opened his eyes and was already complaining that he didn’t feel well leading me to believe he may opt to stay in bed all morning.
Knowing I couldn’t let that happen, I tickled his sweet spot, which happens to be his inner ear, by turning on Apple TV and playing the internet radio station, “Forever Floyd,” featuring his favorite band, Pink Floyd. To my surprise, he got up and moved around a bit more quickly. At one point, he yelled from the other room, “What’s the name of that song?” then ran in to see for himself. Adrenalin had kicked in and the music knocked down the hurdles of stagnation created by worry.
As I work now, I have another music channel on that moves me nicely through the work day at home, where I must be self-disciplined enough to stay in my chair in front of my laptop and blow through my scroll of writing assignments. It never fails me. If I happen to forget to turn it on, I notice it almost immediately and the difference in how I feel is undeniable.
If you do find yourself depressed or upset about something in particular, use music as medicine to help you process it. Remember Elton John’s song, “Sad Songs Say So Much?” Sometimes it’s necessary to put them on, the ones that make you really miserable, and sob it out. You can only cry so hard for so long until you push past the pain and begin to move out of the problem and into the solution. Release the tension rather than holding it in which can cause an array of problems like depression, which could cause physical issues that could lay you up and set you way back. It’s a choice. Let it go or be dragged, as they say.
For a long time music has been an effective form of therapy, according to psychologist Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal. In a meta-analysis of 400 studies Levitin and his postgraduate research fellow, Mona Lisa Chanda, PhD, discovered music as a way for the body’s immune system to function better by reducing stress. Levitin’s book, “This is Your Brain on Music” (Plume/Penguin, 2007) points to how listening to and playing music increases the antibody immunoglobulin A and cells that attach viruses and boost the immune system, as well as reduces the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
So, it stands to reason that time spent making play lists for everything you do where music won’t otherwise distract you, is time well spent. Getting up, going to sleep, getting work done, cleaning, exercising are all sonic opportunities. Here’s one: Do you hate cooking? Put your favorite music on in the kitchen and sing your way through it.
Life is a series of challenges, but if you focus the soundtrack, you might get better results.