Thursday, December 17, 2015

Blues or Bliss--Holiday Music & Moods

When I was a child, I couldn't wait to get out the Christmas carol albums and I didn't care if the songs were secular or sacred--I just enjoyed floating off on those prized melodies. But as I grew older and garnered Christmas memories that upset me, I started noticing that holiday music left me feeling more depressed than uplifted.

So last night the thought occurred to me, at least in the US where Christmas music appears like plastered wallpaper in shopping malls and grocery stores, that some people might actually feel ill at ease when hearing the songs. First, they might not enjoy listening to Christian carols if they come from another religious background, or they might harbor bad memories associated with those songs.

Perhaps, it's hard to believe that anyone would associate pain or grief with "Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer" unless they lost a loved one, received a dire medical diagnosis, or experienced some other challenging event around the holidays. Then we must consider the people who work long shifts in shopping malls and retail stores listening to holiday music drone on for three plus weeks. We associate certain songs with specific memories and until we heal the roots of those memories those songs dish out angst and grief.

Yet, some folks still associate the holiday songs with putting up a Christmas tree, baking cookies, or holiday celebrations with relatives not from a dysfunctional family. And we don't want to toss the baby out with the holy bathwater because holiday music triggers depression or angst in some people. But we could be more mindful of it. Does holiday music sell more products? Is this why stores blast Christmas songs during the shopping season? Could they alternate with other types of music such as classical music or light jazz or no music at all?

And for those of you throwing holiday parties for a diverse group, why not invite a harpist or classical guitarist to play live music that doesn't all carry holiday themes or if it does have holiday themes, let them be Celtic or something unfamiliar to your guests? I once attended a holiday party hosted by spiritual teachers and healers that hired a harpist and she ended up being the hit of the party. I would even suggest playing new age music in the background or recordings of singing bowls blended with Native American flute or light jazz. People have been working or shopping all day before they show up at the gathering so relaxing music might just hit the spot. But you could run into the music also relaxing people too much to the point that they turn inward and don't mingle.

Try listening to a new type of holiday music or genre such as renaissance polyphony or sacred chants from Russia or as I mentioned earlier, Celtic holiday fare. Or if you enjoy the American classics, try listening to alternative versions such as new age, jazz, or classical or even pop (if that lifts your spirits).

So this holiday season stay mindful as ever about the effects of music. You might even journal about how specific holiday songs affect your moods and emotions. Are there any particular songs with painful memories attached to them? And which of the songs have joyful attachments for you? Obviously, either toss the songs with bad memories or take them to your next therapy or energy healing session so you can clear those emotions when listening to those songs. In this way you give the songs a new life and a fresh start.

Incidentally, as I healed my emotional wounds of the past, I found that listening to Christmas music brings me joy again, though I certainly don't want to overdose on it. And I prefer not to hear holiday songs everywhere I go for several weeks. When I was a child, there was less exposure to it and we only brought those albums out when the Christmas tree arrived. And I will mention that in my 20s, I worked retail jobs during the holidays and my ears did grow numb after listening to Christmas songs for an extended period of time.

Happy holidays and may your ears be greeted with sweet music that feeds your soul.

Holiday music reviews from my archives:

Holiday albums 

More holiday albums 

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