Friday, January 23, 2015

What Music Can Do for Your Soul

It's been awhile, (over a year actually!) but this past week I had a few friends over and made sure I had the obligatory background music on during dinner. I noticed after about an hour we were all feeling the groove of some classic R&B. All the bullshit of life--job stress, depression, anxiety, money woes, relationship issues fell by the wayside. 
I basked in the warmth of friends smiling just watching their shoulders drop as our worries disappeared for a brief time. Well, except for one friend who couldn't stop looking at her cell phone the entire night....oddly enough her shoulders never dropped.

I made a comment to the group that I wasn't incorporating enough music in my life. Mine was formerly a house where music played from sun up until I turned in. I woke up to it, jammed and sang my heart out in the car to it, relied on it to soothe my very soul. Somewhere along my journey I cut music out. Why would I eliminate music from my life for the love of all that's holy? When the funk did this occur?
Someone who got so absolutely excited attending shows in small venues, discovering a fresh new band with which to fall in love with and here it's been two years since I even added any songs to my itunes playlist!! What's up with that shit???

After announcing to my guests that I had all but banished music from my life, my sweet friend Stacey speaks up and lays a quote on us all that will have a significant impact on us fellow diners-
 "The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought." 
Wow, fucking true!! 
Conductor Sir Thomas Beecham really knew his shit!!

So what specifically does music do to your brain? What happens to your soul when you go without those sweet sounds? I decided to investigate all the pluses involved with basking in the sounds you love, but I also set about discovering why I 86'd music, something that had always brought me so much joy since childhood.

Gettin' Down: Penny-Age 2

"Scientists have found that the pleasurable experience of listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, important for more tangible pleasures associated with rewards such as food, drugs and sex." 
-Dr, Robert Zatorre/Neuroscientist at The Montreal Neurological Institute & Hospital-The Neuro at McGill University
(Read more-

The Depression Cycle
The symptoms of depression can bring about some drastic changes in a depressed person’s life, daily routines, and their behaviour. Often these changes can perpetuate the depression and prevent the depressed person from getting better.
For example, a lack of motivation or a lack of energy can result in a depressed person cutting back on their activities, neglecting their daily tasks and responsibilities, or leaving decision-making to others. 
Have you noticed these changes in yourself when you are depressed?
When your activity level decreases, you may become even less motivated and more lethargic. When you stop doing the things you used to love, you miss out on experiencing pleasant feelings and positive experiences. Your depression could get worse and this becomes a vicious cycle.
Similarly, when one begins neglecting a few tasks and responsibilities at work or at home, the list may begin to pile up. As such, often when a depressed person thinks about the things they have to do, they might feel overwhelmed by the accumulation of the things that they have neglected. This might result in them feeling guilty or thinking that they are ineffective or even, a failure. This will also perpetuate the depression and the depression cycle. 
-Center for Clinical Interventions/Washington

Why Give Up On Things You Love?

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you, Mr. Marley. The INTENSE pain one feels in their heart upon hearing a song that was part of a past relationship that ended with you being in an equal amount of intense pain can and will stop you dead in your tracks. I have literally had to pull my car off to the side of the road as my tears were preventing me from driving safely at times when one of these songs came on the radio. Music is so completely powerful!

Let me point out that these freak outs on my part are zero indication of how I currently feel about these former partners. It's more that at the time, while you're in that relationship, you believe it's forever and somehow hearing those songs after the wreckage has been cleared makes you feel duped. I believed in "happily ever after", but the years teach you otherwise unfortunately. I will do just about anything to avoid these tunes and that includes not ever listening to certain radio stations that I feel could possibly include them in their playlist. No, I don't get nostalgic-more like overcome with emotion.

There are some things you love that one most give up on if for no other reason than preserving your sanity. Life has a distinct way of teaching us to become discerning creatures for our own self preservation. Closing yourself off from all the beautiful experiences out there should never be an option. Please don't allow yourself to shut down in those areas. You'll miss out on so much! Hmm....about time I heeded my own advice!


What I realized the other night at dinner is that I'm over it. I'm done denying myself access to so many things that bring me joy because of some fucked up belief that true love no longer exists. It does exist, but one will never stumble upon it again if they choose to stay locked up in a house filled with sorrow and regret and distrust. That was the past. I've learned innumerable lessons and I'm done. I'm fucking over heartache and melodrama...well, perhaps a little melodrama every now and then!


p.s. Thank you, Stacey, for inspiring me. Love you!

Here's some links to some very interesting reads on the power of music. I hope you'll check them out :)