Stress, anxiety, pressure can blow in like a late afternoon sea breeze and sometimes it builds to a storm. You feel tense, overwhelmed and sometimes helpless. It is in these times that turning to music and mindfulness can help the storm to pass.
Sometimes you can ‘take five or more’ away from the situation right away; at other times you have to promise yourself a period of calm at lunchtime or end of the day. This might be a walk or some other exercise or sitting in a quiet place to be mindful with your headphones on, put all your focus and concentration into listening and connecting with the music that works for you.
For Maestro George Marriner Maull, the Artistic Director of The Discovery Orchestra, it is classical music that enables him to be more present and to achieve a more mindful state. He outlines below, six ways to be more musically mindful;
1. Prioritize uni-tasking over multitasking
No matter how proud we might be of our ability to multi-task, this behavior will be of no help whatsoever in being present with music. All distractions must be put aside. We cannot listen while also reading, writing, eating, texting or watching TV.
2. Converse with the music
Classical music was meant to be listened to without distraction. When someone like Beethoven composes, it is similar to writing a personal letter to someone about a matter important to us and to them. Just as we hope the recipient of our letter will carefully read every word and absorb the flow and connection of our thoughts and feelings, composers of classical music felt the same about their work. Their music was composed with the hope that the listener could give their undivided auditory attention to each musical sound as it is produced without distraction or interruption. I think of this as “having a conversation” with a composer.
3. Begin with small doses
If you attempt to focus your attention on a one-hour Mahler symphony, it may be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are many “bite-sized” musical statements that are perfect for practicing being present with music. Start with a single movement of larger compositions or overture. Consider one of the following movements:
- Bach:Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, Movement III(05:00)
- Mozart:Piano Concerto No. 21, Movement II (06:30)
- Brahms:Symphony No. 4, Movement III (06:00)
- Fauré:Pavane (orchestral version without chorus) (06:30)
- Mozart:Overture to the Marriage of Figaro (04:30)
- Rachmaninoff:Piano Concerto No. 2, Movement II(11:30)
- Ravel:Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No.2 (16:00)
4. Focus on the elements
Having made a decision to listen with all of your faculties, you might ask: “What do I focus on? How do I become present?” The answer is to focus on the rhythms, melodies, harmonies, contrast of loudness and softness, the different sounds each instrument or group of instruments makes and the form. Pay attention to these changes and similarities. Are some melodies repeated? Are they repeated identically or altered?
5. Get emotional
While you may be used to the emotional meaning of a song being bound up in the lyrics, wordless abstract music can elicit a myriad of feelings in the listener. Classical composers created such profound abstract music that it often causes people to have unusually intense, often cathartic emotional experiences while listening to their compositions. Embrace your emotions as they come and go.
6. Keep your focus
If your mind begins to wander – not to worry! Thinking unrelated thoughts is normal when trying to be present with music. When that happens, gently bring your mind back to noticing the melody and the instruments that are playing. Enjoy the contrasts of loudness and softness as they occur in real time. Once you shift your attention back to the music, your internal monologue will quickly dissipate. Your presence will instead be filled again with sounds far too interesting to be ignored.
I encourage you to use music to help you achieve a more mindful state. View full article first published on ThriveGlobal.com