Music: Your Emotional Channel
Music: Your Emotional Channel
Finding Mindful Moments...
With everything that goes on in our crazy day-to-day lives, how often do we get the chance to stop, be mindful and check in with ourselves?
I bet most people can’t remember the last time they were able to just sit down, relax, and be fully present and in the moment.
Do we really pay attention to how we’re feeling? Do we give our emotions the attention they need? Or do we give into distractions and let our minds wander off, always focusing on the next and never on the now.
So how can we find something to anchor us, bring us back to the moment and really listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us through the incessant chatter in our heads?
That’s where music comes in.
Mindfulness in Music
There’s an innate power in the way music can make you feel, but here’s a thought to ponder; is music making you feel that way, or were the feelings already there, waiting to be discovered through music.
Whether it’s a lyric in a song that resonates with you, the lilting melody of a violin or a poignant cadence on the piano; music is the anaesthesia and the surgeon that opens you up, and tells you things about yourself that you may not have already noticed.
Music as a tool for Emotional Regulation
As a music lover and also as a performer, I’ve been exposed to both ends of the spectrum on using music as an emotional channel; sometimes I’ll hear lyrics on the radio that I relate to so much I swear I wrote them myself and ballads that help me release so much emotion when I belt them out, channelling my inner Beyoncé while I channel my deeper emotions. There are piano concertos I’ll play when I need a sedative, I’ll feel my anxieties melting away as I let the music consume me.
I’ve played a range of instruments in my life and each time I’ve found it so rewarding to sit down and focus on what I’m practising, letting everything else fade away just for a moment. I’m rewarded with not only a new skill but with a chance to vent something I’m feeling through music. I can delve right into the pain I’m feeling with a strong emotional ballad or celebrate a surge of happiness with something a bit more upbeat, all under the control of my own body. Musical instruments have become some of my most trusted and supportive friends in that respect, and also an incredibly significant extension of myself.
Have you ever found yourself singing along to one of the latest pop hits with your friends at a party and taken a second to realise how happy you’re feeling in that moment? Or has a song from the 80s come on the radio and you’re hit with a tidal wave of nostalgia? Have there even been times where you’re feeling hurt or heartbroken and the voice of Chris Martin is suddenly your source of comfort?
There’s actually a lot of science that can explain why we have these emotional responses. If we take it right back to music theory, for example, we find that tonality has a big influence on the emotions conveyed in a piece. If a song is structured around a major scale, it tends to sound bright and happy, whereas a minor scale introduces a melancholic feel. The mere arrangement of notes can have a profound impact on how we respond to them.
We are constantly surrounded by music, when we’re driving in the car, sitting in a café, walking around the shops and so on. To the point where it’s part of our subconscious and we all have a knowledge of music and that we may not even be aware of. It’s almost becoming part of our basic human instincts to respond to music.
Mindfulness with Music in Practice
So if you notice your stress building up, and you’re struggling to find time for yourself, be mindful with music. See how many different instruments you can pick out in a classical piece, take note of the changes in dynamics, even count how many times Ariana Grande riffs on a note, and when you’re done; continue on with your day with a clearer headspace and thank yourself for giving your mind it’s well-deserved break. And next time you’re tempted to belt out that Adele song in the shower, don’t hold back. I promise, you’ll feel better.