Musical Mindfulness: Singing in the Car & Other Moments :)

Ah! The power of music! I first became aware of it in 5th grade when I became enraptured by the music of Nsync. The voices of that 90’s boyband compelled me to do strange things, such as sing the entire No Strings Attached album obnoxiously loud for the entirety of a field trip with my then best friend ūüôā As I’ve gotten older (and my musical taste more selective), I continue to witness and enjoy the power of music to move the heart strings.

A recent moment that comes to mind was a performance by my church’s worship band. Church worship can be painfully bad and awkward, but lucky me, I found a church with an undeniably talented and passionate set of musicians. On this particular day, the lead vocalist sat down to perform a hauntingly beautiful song on the piano. His voice was so soulful and powerful, I could feel¬†everybody¬†else in the auditorium leaning forward in their seats along with me. Halfway through, the rest of the band joined him, and the ensemble of drums, bass, piano, and powerful voices gave me goosebumps. Watching him sing was like watching a thunderstorm pass through. I paid no attention to time. I had no other thoughts in my mind that I was aware of other than the awe and beauty of the song. The world had stopped turning for me in that moment.

Singing in the car is another informal mindful moment I have, although it’s a less majestic one. You know when you hear a song that somehow just delivers all the attitude and energy you’ve been lacking? Or a song that makes you feel like you could conquer the world? And soon you find yourself singing and dancing in your car and all of those worrisome thoughts that would usually invade your commute are nowhere in sight? And then you are stopped at a stoplight and suddenly become¬†conscious¬†of the driver next to you smiling at you and your performance ends abruptly because you have been taken over by a fit of self-conscious¬†giggles. I love that feeling. I don’t feel like a girl with a label from the DSM or a girl who has to attend therapy 2 times a week. I just feel like a 23 year old who is happy to be alive.

My counselor worked with me last week on finding a mantra for me to meditate with, since I have found that just sitting and having nothing to focus was pulling teeth for me. I really suck at just “feeling the forehead, my neck, my chest” while lying still and trying to think of nothing else. ¬†Breathe, om, peace… I could not think of a word or phrase I could focus on that might serve as my mantra for meditation sessions. A song came to mind by Kristian Stanfill called One Thing Remains. The lyrics always come to mind when I’m feeling myself succumb to obsessions and compulsions to exhaustion: “Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me”.

“Can that be my mantra?”, I asked. ¬†And bam! I can’t tell you how excited I am that music inspired my mantra. It’s a mantra connected to a ¬†beautiful and soothing song and now I get to bring some of that into my meditation sessions. What would I do without music?

And since I am taking time to appreciate the awesomeness of music, here’s a really interesting article by Gillian Ragsdale, Ph.D about the possible connections between music and developing empathy:¬†http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/empathy/201205/developing-empathy-dont-take-away-the-music

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