Practicing mindfulness and meditation are great ways to help you cultivate a more positive outlook and sense of peace, but sometimes when you're in a funk, it can be really difficult to focus your mind enough to focus on your practice, even if you know it'll help you come back to center. When this happens to me, I like to use music to help me realign my energy and focus on mindfulness. Music is something I can always count on to change my mood. Something about hearing a song with a killer beat and uplifting lyrics can diffuse any upset I'm experiencing in a matter of minutes so I can regain the clarity and calm I need to get back on track. Here are some ways that I use music as part of my mindfulness practice:
1. Make a playlist (or a few) to boost your mood
I have a happiness playlist and a power playlist that are both filled with songs I know are guaranteed to help boost my mood when I'm feeling sad or angry. My happiness playlist has songs that are upbeat, and that I love to sing along with because I know that singing out loud when I'm in my car or cooking dinner is another activity that brings me up to 100 right away. My power playlist is very similar, but I specifically curate it with songs that make me feel like a powerful badass who can take on anything. You might have a few songs that come to mind right away, but even if you don't, it's okay! Create a playlist and anytime a song comes on that makes you feel amazing, add it to the list right then so you can come back to it in the future. Note: it's dangerously easy to go the opposite way and be drawn towards sad songs that will fuel your emotions when you're feeling sad. While it isn't bad to have a song or two on hand for when you need a good cry, don't let yourself get sucked in to the downward emotional spiral of listening to sad songs when you already aren't feeling too good.
2. Find your anthem
Like your power playlist, but to the extreme. This is the one song that is absolutely, positively, 100% GUARANTEED to make you feel invincible. You want this baby locked and loaded so that when the moment strikes, you are ready to go with minimal searching. Take extra care in choosing this song. Pick something that has lyrics that really speak to you, and lift you up. My personal power anthem is "One Foot" by Walk the Moon. The steady, upbeat tempo and burst of energy at the chorus never fail me. Each time that chorus bursts forth, I feel like there are sparks of golden light (like what would come off a welder's torch) shooting out of my heart, and it makes me feel like I'm connected to the universe. Plus, the positive message of just putting "one foot in front of the other" helps lift me out of even my lowest moments.
3. Notice how the music physically makes you feel
Okay, so maybe you don't feel golden light energy shooting out of your chest, BUT pay attention to the physical response you have to the music you choose to listen to. It might be as simple as noticing the impulse to move your body or clap your hands to the beat, or it might be a more ethereal feeling as if you're connected to something bigger. I love to find music that gives me goosebumps from a beautifully played chord or a steady beat that I can physically feel like a heartbeat or an undulating wave of energy. It makes me feel like I'm connected to something larger than myself, like the universe or humanity as a whole. I've been enjoying the song "Delta" by Mumford & Sons because the soft drum beat that gradually grows and transitions the song, along with the back track of voice chatter, give me almost an omniscient feeling, like I can see the world as a whole, and appreciate the subtleties of humanity.
4. Pay attention to the lyrics
A big part of mindfulness is paying careful attention to the words we use so that we can draw more positive energy towards us. If you don't already, start listening more carefully to the lyrics of the songs you listen to most often. Do they reflect the way you want to feel? This is particularly important when you're using music to help change your mood or your outlook. There are plenty of songs with an uptempo beat that have rather somber or negative lyrics. Play songs that have meaningful lyrics that make you feel good. Bonus points if they are true works of poetry and art as well!
5. Get it in on the action - play or sing your heart out!
Listening to music is great, but being part of it is even better! I may not be the best singer in the world, and I can't play a single instrument (except maybe the tambourine) but I truly love to rock out and sing along to my favorite songs in the car, in the shower, or while I'm cooking or doing chores around the house, and so I don't let my musical inabilities hinder me from experiencing joy. It's an instant uplevel for your musical mindfulness practice!
How do you add music to your mindfulness practice? Let me know in the comments!