My Unique Personal and Vulnerable Zen Playlist
From Country to Pop
When asked to write a Zen playlist, I had to truly reflect and dig deep to really define what exactly zen means to me.
There are many different meanings and interpretations for the word zen. The standard and most popular meaning of zen is peace, relaxation of the body mind and soul and being in total connection spirituality with all things that surround you.
Deprok Chopra states 5 different ways to recognize if you’re truly operating in zen.
1 The true self is certain and clear about things: meaning that our everyday selves get influenced by outside influences thus leading to confusion and we have to accept them and realize where we fit in and not get distracted by the outside world.
2 The true self is stable: meaning that our body and mind’s involuntary self shifts multiple times daily and we have to find our peaceful center.
3 The true self is driven by a deep sense of truth; the ego and never ending constant demands of “I, Me, Mine,” where we have to come to peace with our thoughts and realize our inner drive without outside influences.
4 The true self is at peace: which to me is the most important. The everyday self and being is easily agitated and disturbed and we have to be able to flush the negativity out of our minds and soul in order to achieve true peace and zen.
5 The True Self is Love: where our everyday selves naturally seek love from outside sources rather than reaching deep into our souls to find the love that exists deep inside our core and being able to pull it up to the surface and absorb the love that’s there; thus being able to achieve zen, a sense of self love and self peace.
Going a bit deeper in the aforementioned ideas of achieving zen. A few pertinent points into accepting zen and truly trying to feel the zen feeling and applying it to our daily lives; live life to the fullest everyday, transcend dualism ( opposing and staying away from principles such as right and wrong or good and evil since most things are black and white,) because dualism causes or leads to unnecessary anxiety; where letting go is a freeing experience, respect the physical mind body and soul and treat them as they are your number one importance in zen, and lastly increase serenity and recognize and take things for what they are in life without taking in and absorbing the negative energy they may bring with them.
For me, achieving zen is slightly different so my playlist might be interesting and slightly different than the standard zen playlist but I will showcase my reasons behind why I chose each song and why they take away my anxiety and add zen to my life.
1. LEAVE A LIGHT ON by Tom Walker
The most meaningful and pertinent lyrics from this song are the chorus which is “ If you look into the distance, there’s a house 🏡 upon the hill, guiding like a lighthouse, it’s a place where you’ll feel safe, to feel our grace cause we’ve all made mistakes, if you’ve lost your way, I will leave the light on.” The song is about an individual who had a rough life and was addicted to drugs, made mistakes and lost their way but their friend is letting them know to never give up and that there’s always a safe place for them to go and find their way. I discovered the unconventional song when a friend’s son used it for his dance piece. After listening to the song it really resonated with me and my past life experiences. I had a series of 7 surgeries over 5 years and had trouble coming off pain killers and wanted to give up on life until I met a friend who extended a hand and ultimately led to saving my life. This song will forever remind me of her.
2. PRAYING by KESHA
The second song in my zen playlist is yet another unconventional song to technically be called zen; yet again the meaning for what makes us each feel zen is different for all. KESHA wrote this song because she alleged that for 4 years she was drugged and verbally and sexually assaulted by her producer Dr. Luke who truly put her in a bad place emotionally. Achieving her zen was by writing this song and relating what she went through and overcame. The lyrics that are most prominent to me and most meaningful in the song are when she sings “ I’m proud of who I am. No more monsters, I can breathe again. And you said that I was done, well you were wrong and the best is yet to come, cause I can make it on my own, and I don’t need you, I’ve found a strength I’ve never known. I’ve been thrown out, I’ve been burned, when I’m finished they won’t even know your name. You brought the flames and you put me through hell. I HAD TO LEARN TO FIGHT FOR MYSELF and we both know the TRUTH I can tell, I’ll just say this I wish you farewell. I hope you’re somewhere praying, I hope your soul is CHANGING, I hope you find your peace, falling on your knees praying. Oh sometimes I pray for you at night, someday maybe you’ll see the light, SOME SAY IN LIFE YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE BUT ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE.” By writing this song Kesha unleashed all her anger and triumphs that she held in for years to reach her zen. It’s very relatable to me because I was physically abused by a classmate I trusted in school years ago and I hadn’t told people for years thus suffering inside alone and this song puts me in a zen place realizing “one day he’ll get what he deserves” and I’ll keep praying and my strength will keep me going.
3. THIS IS ME by Kesha and written by Keala Settle.
The third song in my playlist also defines zen for me in a rather personal way because it was inspired by a gentleman ; Benj Pasek, who explained his struggles with life and how being a closeted gay man as a teenager affected his self esteem but then goes on later in life discovering his worth as an adult. His story resonated with me because I have struggled with sexuality since a young age. I struggled to fit in and felt lost most of my life. I always thought I wasn’t good enough and the possibility of being gay put me in an even more confused and distraught place. Eventually, I met my now partner of 19 years; and while still “in the closet” for years and struggling with who I was and fear of the judgement I’d receive by loved ones and my community; I built up the courage to “come out” to my family and friends and say “THIS IS ME.” It was liberating and the amount of positive support I was met with is inexplicable. The lyrics in this song that I truly relate to are: “ Im not a stranger to the dark, “hide away they say,” cause we don’t want your broken parts. I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars, “run away” they say, no one will love you as you are. But I won’t let them break me down to dust. I know there’s a place for us, For we are GLORIOUS. When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out, I am BRAVE, I am BRUISED, I am who I’m MEANT TO BE, THIS IS ME.”
4. PEER PRESSURE by James Bay featuring Julia Michaels
The fourth song in my zen playlist makes me feel comfort and zen because it relates to how peer pressure can be a good thing depending on the situation; especially when it comes to the heart. James Bay wrote the song because of humans’ common fear of opening ourselves up to other people. We often erect personal and emotional safeguards to protect ourselves and our emotions in intrapersonal relationships. However, when the right person comes along, such protections and walls, as I say; ultimately become meaningless and arbitrary and he or she will penetrate through the barriers and “find a way through to your heart” thus submitting to a beautiful form of peer pressure where when the person is around; your world is enamored by peace and love and when they are gone the thought of them lingers through your mind with a pressure and need to see them that runs so deeply. My favorite part of the lyrics to the song is when Bay sings “ When we met, innocent, now I’m dead every time you’re touching me, you’re dancing around on my mind every second, I’m under control until you’re in front of me, maybe I’m scared, I don’t care, I’m addicted, I’m in it and you say... Put your hands on my body just like you think you know me, want your heart beating on me, don’t leave me hot and lonely, I DON’T USUALLY GIVE INTO PEER PRESSURE but I’ll GIVE INTO YOURS.” I never felt that kind of positive peer pressure and positive feeling until I first met my spouse and our eyes first caught each other’s. It was that day I felt something I never felt before and that “peer pressure” to have to see her again and have her in my arms was so strong it compelled me to ask her out and the “pressure” led us to 19 years later happily in love. This song exudes a different connotation and meaning to the words peer pressure and every time I listen to it it makes me zen and happy.
5. BODY LIKE A BACK ROAD by Sam Hunt
My 5th and final pick for my zen playlist. I chose this song as the final song on my playlist because of its sensual yet playful play on words of a love story. It is a country number one hit that really touched my heart strings when I first heard it. It’s quite clever how Sam Hunt uses words in a simple way yet having them mean something so different and special. It’s a relaxing country song that just makes you feel the precious love between two people yet it’s told in a masked manner. Very creative if I may say. Hunt wrote the song for his wife while they were vacationing in Israel stating that “ it’s a light hearted song” that he hoped put a smile on everyone’s faces when they listened to it. Well, it did just that; not just for me but for millions of fans making it the number one hit on his second album. The lyrics that stand out the most to me are “ Body like a back road, driving with my eyes closed, I know every curve like the back of my hand. Doing 15 in a 30, I ain’t in no hurry, Im’a take it slow just as fast as I can. Ain’t no curves like hers on them downtown streets.” Just listening to the song let’s me imagine slowly driving down a country dirt road with the one you love; not a care in the world except enjoying peace, love, their company and the scenery. Doesn’t get more zen than that!
My zen playlist showcases different types of zen feelings but each song exemplifies my personal feelings of what zen can feel like at a particular moment in time. Sometimes we all need a relaxing zen moment and whether it’s a country song or a rap song; zen is a feeling within our souls that can come from many places of inspiration. Hope you enjoy.