Judith Pinkerton’s article Music Powers Potential was recently published on Recovery.org, where she will be a regular contributor talking about music therapy. The following is an excerpt of that article…
Music Powers Potential: Good, Bad and Ugly
How does music power up your life?
I can’t imagine life without music.
I love my music: it describes my life exactly.
I can’t live without my headphones!
If I don’t listen to my music I go into rage.
Music is on all night to keep me sleeping.
Stimulated by these comments, more ideas may spring forward as you reflect on the influence of music in your life. Is it possible that music not only stirs up the good, but the bad and the ugly, too?
- What music creates a happy gathering place for folks, or creates conflict and war between people?
- When does certain music trigger a memory that reminds you of a good time, or a bad one?
- How does your favorite song describe your life when you achieve success, or survive problems?
The Power of Music
When considering all these ways music influences you, exactly how does the power of music activate your body?
Music activates the central nervous system, stimulating whole body responses three ways: physiological, emotional, and behavioral. The invisible power of music influences neurochemicals, blood pressure, heart rate, galvanic skin response (chill bumps or sweating), and respiration.
Life becomes more introspective when decoding the influence of music on physiology, emotions, behavior and thoughts.
B.F. Skinner affirms that “thoughts are behaviors we haven’t learned to observe yet.” When we observe how thoughts influence behaviors, we tap into the effects of our mindset. We realize that our mindset is a collection of thoughts and beliefs that shape thought habits.3 Thought habits connect to music listening habits which link to physiological, emotional, and behavioral responses. It’s an endless cycle of connectedness.
“You mean when I push play on music, that music’s really playing me?” ask clients in life recovery. “Yes,” is the answer.
Exploring Music Listening Habits
The cycle of connectedness begins to make sense when music listening habits are more deeply explored. A typical response is “music soothes the savage breast, or beast, or mindset.” Here is another way of understanding these four words as they relate to music listening habits.
- Savage may refer to our instinctive responses when selecting music. When we scan the radio, iPod, cell, or other audio device, we push play when something feels good to us because we want to listen to it no matter what mood we’re in.
- Breast may refer to our heart, or feelings. We may select music based upon our mood, what we’re feeling; or, what we desire, changing to a different mood.
- Beast may refer to our physiological responses. We may want to slow down or rev up blood pressure, heart rate, or pace an athletic race with increased stamina.
- Mindset refers to our thoughts, which influence behaviors. When we notice a desire to influence how we act, we pay attention to shifting our mindset to influence behavior. Music may influence thoughts or mindset, which evolve into behaviors.
As we use music daily, we could be actively influencing all parts of our lives. Songs may describe life and grow to be life’s soundtrack.
When working with clients in recovery, the music often describes their life journey, the broad continuum of depicting active addiction to desired recovery. ~JUDITH PINKERTON
To read the full article Music Powers Potential: Good, Bad and Ugly click here…
Reprint courtesy of Recovery.org