How have you been? 17 months into the not-for-the-faint-hearted waves and surges of the pandemic, hope you’re holding up alright.
While we’ve started to pick up the pieces after being stripped off the inessentials and appreciating the core of what truly matters in our lives, keeping our holistic wellness in check is a daily must. And I don’t mean not just not having the COVID-19 symptoms, but also monitoring our mental state and emotional agility which are equally vital to survive this rollercoaster ride.
A simple, yet powerful aid to help you get through the rough days is just on the play button of your Spotify app. Not to trivialize mental and emotional disorders by offering a simplistic suggestion, but it is true that music plays a key role in one’s healing. It’s not rocket science but scientifically proven that music can complement what I’m coining as the ‘5Ms’ of music in our lives – medicine, meditation, mindfulness, ministry and meaning.
First, Johns Hopkins’ research illuminated how music affects the brain and other body systems in a measurable way. With this, practitioners have now integrated music with medicine to augment healing and expanded clinical studies on the effect of music on neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and stroke. The center currently runs music-based treatment complements such as ParkinSonics Choral Group, Zoom Drumming Classes and Music Therapy as part of their patients’ programs.
Second, the output of meditation draws parallel to music’s offering – mood enhancement, relaxation and mind shift. While meditation is more overt in lowering cortisol (a.k.a. stress hormone) to help us sleep better and rewiring the brain with a host of positive emotional qualities, listening to music releases dopamine which is responsible for allowing us to feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. Having these as the byproduct, we then transcend to experiencing the third ‘M’ which is mindfulness – a safe state when we feel and embrace our emotions while acting objectively and responding rationally. For example, it’s that moment when you felt heartbroken, drowned yourself to those tearjerker tracks and felt better after. It’s that process of allowing yourself to ‘feel’ while keeping the depressing music as your background that escalated to mindfulness – which you may also consider as part of your recovery or moving on journey.
Fourth, observe how music is part of most spiritual traditions. It’s been used for structured rituals to unify groups symbolically or literally towards a common belief, goal, message or vision. Hence, its key role in building a ministry. Interestingly, you’d realize that despite the cultural, geographical and language differences, formal ministries can be unified and mobilized by music – it is one of the key universal elements in life that can help equalize everything and everyone.
Finally, the fifth benefit of adding music to our way of life is its positive influence in our search for meaning. While individuals will have differentiated causes and triggers fueled by unique passion points, music has the power to help a tired and longing consciousness to refocus, recenter and reengineer. As we’re drawn to profoundly examine the essence of our existence during these trying times, why not use the calmness of this ageless gift (regardless of your preferred genre) to help craft your purposeful tomorrows – fill them with gratefulness, unconditional service and enriched relationships.
Easier said than done I hear you say? Not really. To share how I practice it daily, here are my ‘music is life’ habits – after waking up from my alarm, I put on my ‘inspirational playlist’ filled with gospel tracks then do my morning prayers followed by filling-in my 5-minute journal app by listing down three things I’m grateful for, three things I’ll do to make the day great and one self-affirmation statement; when working out at the gym, I put on my ‘running playlist’ filled with cardio-pumping tracks that support the rhythm of my high intensity interval or weight training routine; when driving long distance, I put on either my ‘new wave’ or ‘90s hits’ playlist to keep me focused and awake while belting out my favorite tracks; when sleeping, I put on ‘ambient sounds’ like crickets, rain and beach tracks to make me sleep like a baby. And yes, this drill supported my over-all mental wellness.
With this tiny help, hope you’d also find your groove back and as you click the play button, internalize what the great Beethoven once said – ‘Music is the mediator between the life of the senses and the life of the spirit’.