Music is a form of healing

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Music is a major outlet for most people’s emotions. Whether it’s listening to music that reflects your mood or putting on songs that reflect how you want to feel, music can change how you feel. picture by Erik McLean on Unsplash.

There’s a kind of catharsis to sitting with your emotions and putting your thoughts together in the form of songs. A form of meditation: in times of depression, I create a space where I can confront my emotions. A space where I encounter audible examples that reflect my mental state back to me. Sometimes it happens by myself. Sometimes I can sit down with pen and paper and create a tangible web of words that was previously just a mess of my own mind. Other times, my words are not enough and I have to look elsewhere.

The American Psychological Association (APA) presented a article on the “healing power of vibrations”. I took away how much mind and body are connected. Our bodies vibrate at certain frequencies and we can feel emotionally when songs, situations or people are aligned with this. Music is a powerful tool for us to check in with ourselves and see if we are ignoring emotions or thoughts that we weren’t intentionally avoiding. Being aware of the songs we seek is how we channel that awareness.

There is a contradiction between the predictability of music and its absence in everyday life. Every morning, I rely on the glow of the sun to seep through my curtains. For the drop of coffee to flow steadily into my cup, settling into this day and what is to come. Yet for most of my day that I expect to remain constant, I mostly deal with unpredictability. On the simplest level, we encounter red lights, conversations with friends we didn’t plan to have, or weather surprises that send us off track. Sometimes it gets more complicated. Life confronts us with situations that we do not know we can handle.

I spoke to my cousin Rick Mitarotonda, lead singer of the indie jam band Goose, about his perspective and relationship to music. “It’s a language that can communicate. He has the ability to instill hatred and anger. It also has the ability to instill healing and love,” he said.

Music is about potential. Ability. At its core, music is a reflection of consciousness. Even Mitarotonda mentioned how music also impacts your body vibrations, stating that “Thoughts, emotions, and feelings all affect your mind-body connection. Anything that crosses your unconscious mind can manifest through music.

Music connects us to each other and to ourselves. Music can express things that are difficult to explain to others. picture by james stamler on Unsplash.

Not only does music heal the individual, but finding songs that we resonate with is also a form of reflection. “I’m of the opinion that it’s a catalyst for self-explanation,” Mitarotonda said. “Songwriting as a form of catharsis…a way to process inner emotions.”

It is easy for these emotions to stagnate within us. It’s an idea that psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk dissects in his book “The Body Keeps the Score.” When emotions get stuck, either because of trauma or anything that creates excess emotional energy, we feel physical ramifications. There is, without a doubt, a connection between mind and body.

“To me, it’s really mysterious. I don’t think I really want to understand it,” Mitarotonda added.

“In my opinion, we are all channels. And music is another way for us to receive messages that were intended for us, whether the musician knows it or not. Mitarotonda said. I think it speaks to a greater universal experience that we all resonate with. It’s the times when you’re talking with someone and they say something that doesn’t seem important to them, but to you it’s a message that you desperately need to hear. This person is a go-between for anything trying to get the word out to you.

In modern times, it is easy for emotions to stagnate. There are many ways to suppress emotions. They are available on television, work too much, alcohol and drugs are so widely available. It takes you out of the present. Numbness takes you away from your body, and music is a way to open that path again. “It creates movement; opens the heart; allows the flow of emotions,” Mitarotonda said.

Think about animals and their reactions to emotions. They demonstrate the primordial need to dispel us from trauma. A deer is hit by a car. At first, the deer freezes in shock. Then the deer quivers for seconds or minutes at a time. It physically expels emotions, giving physical form to what was once mental.

Music is us who attach movement to these emotions, whether it is anger, fear or joy that arises. We don’t have to be a talented musician or songwriter to understand how powerful music is. Like any other human being who experiences the upheavals of life, I know that music is a way for me to tune into my own emotional state.

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