Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Practice--Eliminating Toxic Music

"Tranquility" by Patricia Herlevi
People have told me that certain music that irritates me might actually be healthy for them. It's true we all have varying musical tastes and different bodies. Some of us have thicker skin than others, but there is some music that is toxic for everyone. Still, how do you know what is right for you?

First, you must pay attention to your body sensations, emotions/feelings/moods when exposure to music or even sound frequencies. I have yet to meet someone who isn't bothered by the noise of airplanes flying overhead, leaf blowers, or power lawn mowers. Most people just shut out these noises and tell themselves that they are part of the modern and urban lifestyles.

Unfortunately, we have little control over music or noise that we encounter throughout the course of our day. However, we can decide what will play in the background or foreground of our homes. We can set the volume to a level that won't cause harm to our hearing or nervous system. We can, if we don't have a household full of teens, control the type of music played in the home and prefer softer to heavier thudding music. But again, some people require more thudding and jarring music to get them going because they tend to be more Kapha, as described in Ayurvedic medicine which is a thicker skin and slower moving energy. Vata dosha is the opposite when we get a thin, wiry nervous person who is easily agitated by noise or other disturbances coming from the environment.

So because we are unique individuals with different body types and mental temperament there are still commonalities that we all share. So watch for the following symptoms:

You feel irritated or agitated 
Have trouble focusing around the music
Feel jumpy or like you could jump out of your skin
Dull headache 
Nervous tension
Foggy mind

Beethoven, Wikipedia
Now, sometimes it's the volume of the music alone that can cause the above symptoms. Other times it's a combination of the volume, environment, and music. Music with a strong beat is not conducive for work that involves concentration and focus. Too loud of music is going to pump up the nervous system and cause agitation if we're expected to sit still in front of a computer. Why would you listen to dance club music while working on a computer, for instance?

Part of the problem is that we don't choose the appropriate music for the activity. And this really only requires common sense and not music research. I have experimented with different types of music and composers within those genres. For example, not all classical music works well for proofreading or doing focused work. For that I prefer silence or slow Baroque or French Impressionist music. But even this music could leave me feeling sleepy by afternoon.

Varying the tempo and type of music to match activities throughout the day works for me. For instance, I might listen to medium tempo classical music for lunch or I might go ethnic and listen to world music that matches the type of food I'm eating at lunch. But then when I get back to work, depending on the project and level of energy or focus required, I choose music or silence with mindfulness and from past experiences with certain songs. Then of course, for meditation I choose new age or Indigenous songs or chants.

Once you have worked with your music diary for a month or several months, you'll know which music works best for any activity. This leads to mindful uses of music. This doesn't mean that we can't also listen to music for pleasure or for dancing or for background for a party we're hosting. And we still have little to no control of the music blasting in grocery stores and malls. But we can depending on the dentist, doctor, or healer, suggest types of music we want playing in the background during certain medical or healing procedures. And this is important because we already know about the healing power of music.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave them here. Thank you for stopping by Whole Music Experience and raising your music consciousness. Every mind matters on this journey. I'm the author of the unpublished book, Whole Music.

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