Piano art to soothe the heart
"Zen" moments are what I call my safe spaces, worship music that moves my soul
"Without music, life would be a mistake" –Friedrich Nietzsche
I knew there was science behind the music you listen to. In my four-year study to become a certified life coach, I did a brief unit on the effects of music therapy.
The benefits of listening to music and its healing powers stretch from boosting exercise ability, ease stress and anxiety, and enhance recovery from strokes.
Whether you prefer Beethoven symphonies or the old-time ballads, music can transport us to another place, evoke deepest emotions, cement pain or joy, or simply be liked just because of the sound. Until I did my study, I did not realize that music not engages the auditory system but many other parts of my brain as well, including areas responsible for movement, language, attention, memory, and emotion.
"There is no other stimulus on earth that simultaneously engages our brains as widely as music does," says Brian Harris, certified neurologic music therapist at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. This global activation happens whether you listen to music, play an instrument, or sing — even informally in the car or the shower, he says. And it helps to explain how and why music therapy works (see "Singing — and striding — stroke survivors").
My take on the "zen"
Zen is defined as a Japanese word, emphasizing meditation value.
Since life happens and there are both great things and very hard things, life can become hard to cope with. This is why so many conversations about people finding their "zen" or a place they can escape to, to find courage in the day, are so common. Due to my work nature, I often need to find my safe place. Working alongside many mental health teams for numerous clients, it is easy to sometimes carry too much of life's hardness. However, I am a Christian, so for me personally I don't really call it my "Zen", but I like to call it my safe place. For me, that safe place is found in, my favorite playlist of piano music worship favorites. It has everything from 'I could sing of your love forever", to "Oceans" and every other beautiful worship song in-between. Even to old school songs "Like how great is thou art". You can find my go-to playlist if you search; https://youtu.be/E3bQJd4Fk-M
For me, this playlist allows me to unwind, fall asleep if I need, paint to, read too, study to, meditate on the Bible with, do my journaling too; I use it to put my new Nephew asleep, and stretch to when I wake up in the morning. I play it while I am cooking, in the shower and doing my makeup getting ready to work.
I am playing this all the time, because it is over an hour-long, I can have it going for ages, and honestly, I listen to it several times a day. About the only time I don't run to it is when I am doing a work- out. This is because I need a bit more headbanging music to get me excited at the gym. So, in that case, I just put on some Vison 180 radio.
My cat loves it too; she might get sad wanting to be outside playing in the night, and I put this on, and she seems to go to sleep or settle down.
Listening to or creating music triggers dopamine release in the brain, making people feel engaged and motivated. When our brain is in, the process of "Sound processing" the brainstem also controls our heartbeat and respiration rate. This connection may explain why relaxing music such as my go-to playlist may lower my heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. This is why it must have such a significant effect on me, and why I can use it across all areas of my life, and for me, it seems to ease my pain, stress, and anxiety.
Listening to music and my favorite playlist makes me more productive. Music is a way of life for me, and I love it. It is both a therapeutic escape from the cruel realities I come across, and a reminder of the beautiful unknowns of living. Music is the ultimate experience of expanding consciousness and a million other things, from my feelings to finding a small break from the crazy of life.
My safe place has it all; if I could use it for lifting weights and shedding kilos in the mirror at the gym, it would be perfect, but it does not quite get me motivated enough to lift. However, I guess nothing can be totally perfect, but I still put it on when walking. So, maybe it could be argued that it does actually do all of the things, and covers the area of fitness, in my life.
This playlist is perfect in so many other ways. For one, it helps me make stronger connections with groups and other people. Because it has no words, my friends who don't believe in the same things don't find it offensive. They just enjoy it. Even when they know it is God Squad, it is not rubbing my belief system into their faces or overwhelming them. It is just really pretty. So that is really beautiful, we can all share in beautiful music, and enjoy each others company. It often leads to discussions about everyone's ideas, and beliefs and it so amazing learning about my loved ones on a deeper level. It does not matter if they have different belief systems; it sets the tone for good-hearted discussions on getting to know each other more. I have many memories of great nights eating pizza and drinking wine, unravelling the beauty of humanity. I love these memories so much, as this playlist allowed everyone in the room to feel more connected; and put them all in a happy state of mind, and learn about our different and exciting levels together.
That properly helps me love this playlist, as well, because I have all of these fond memories attached to it.
I also have so many memories of playing this playlist, dancing to it, with my beloved Tim around my kitchen floor, laughing and planning our future together.
This playlist is like the definition of when we talk about how music drastically improves your memory; I have all this memory recall around heartfelt moments. Plus, remembering the songs and their words, even though it is wordless, has been proven to promote memory stimulation.
When I listen to this playlist, it also reduces my muscle tension. Muscle tension is one of my primary issues. I am not alone; many people who work outside and in offices get muscle tension. Listening to music has been proven to reduce tension throughout the body, including the back and shoulders. I can feel the physical effects of my playlist working wonders in times of stress at work or in general. I even play it quietly in my earphones, in the background at work, as an effective way to destress and release tension. It does not impact anyone else but helps me calm down and enjoy life more. It probably helps my work colleagues, as I am not as likely to be as cranky; they just don't know it is happening.
If you want to have an enjoyable playlist with a bit of soul, I highly recommend this selection. You do not have to believe in God or understand it; just enjoy the quiet peacefulness that it brings. You will be surprised how much you might enjoy it. Instrumental music tends to be far less distracting, and there is something about allowing your mind to drift into a safe, quiet, creative space. Something that is far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Written by Emma White
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