Self help with sounds
I meditate every day - sometimes just for five minutes, sometimes for over an hour.
On workdays, I tend to tune into shorter meditations on the Peleton app just after I’ve worked out and stretched. You can choose how you want to feel from a chocolate-box menu of titles such as “Deep Relaxation”, “Focus” and “Courage”.
Today, a different one caught my eye “Alanis Morissette Meditation”.
Back in the 90’s and 00’s I bought all the Alanis albums. Sometimes the songs were uplifting, like “One Hand in my Pocket”, but many were fabulous, angry songs like “You Oughta Know” with lyrics like:
“Did you forget about me, Mr. Duplicity?
I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner
It was a slap in the face
How quickly I was replaced
And are you thinking of me when you f*ck her?”
That was the sort of song you’d put on when you’d been dumped by a shithead who never deserved you in the first place. Even if you hadn’t been dumped recently, it took you back to a time when you had been, and it made you want to give your ex a piece of your mind for all the hours you wasted crying over them.
“You Oughta Know” is the sort of song you’d screech at the top of your lungs at 2 am, when you have an empty bottle of red next to the sofa and you’ve moved on to the sticky bottle of Tia Maria that’s been forgotten since Christmas, one hand sloshing your glass around, the other punching the air, with black mascara tears running down your cheeks.
Epic cathartic ugliness!
Music connects us to emotions and memories, and can instantly take us back to previous events in our life - not just 2D movie-like memories, but back to where you feel all the emotions you felt the first time around.
It’s due to Hebb’s Law of neuroplasticity, often simplified to the phrase, “Neurons that fire together wire together”.
I’ve spent some intense emotional hours listening to Alanis Morisette, and now I associate her with some quite fierce, dark feelings. The sort of feelings that aren’t particularly helpful when you’re aiming to still your mind and centre yourself for your clients before a day’s coaching!
I don’t know if it’s just because I’m wired with an ADHD brain, but even though Alanis has made a beautiful, tranquil album of meditation music, the mere mention of her name got my brain racing back to darker emotions.
As her new, soothing music played, all I could think about were Alanis’s angry songs - they were playing louder in my head than her meditation music - raising my heart rate, furrowing my brow, bringing back the memory of 2 am Tia Maria.
Luckily, I was able to laugh at how ridiculous my brain was being when it was choosing to focus on the wrong thing. I found another meditation class to listen to, and I settled into a peaceful mental whitewash, with only the faintest echo of Angrylanis in the cerebral shadows.
When I’m in the gym, I have a certain playlist full of old school hip hop that for some reason helps me focus on lifting weights. I think it’s because the lyrics are strong and gritty, the beats bang hard, and my body just seems to respond to it. I’ve listened to the same type of music to work out to for years, so the neurons are wired together well - so much so that even when I feel tired and really don’t want to work out, if I put my playlist on then I’ll always manage to do something.
How could you use music to your advantage this week? Do you need to be soothed? Do you need to be pumped up? I guarantee there’s a song somewhere that can immediately take you back to a place and time where you can connect to the state you’re after.
Find the music and play it - you’ll be surprised how easily you can self-help with sounds.
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