Music is my umbrella
In the hail of life, music is medicine. We all know it. Most of us change our mood, reinforce it, or broadcast it with favorite sounds.
Here’s what I think is amazing about what happens in our bodies:
Our nervous systems are constantly taking in, processing, storing, ignoring, amplifying, and making meaning of all that is happening in our environments. The complexity of the exterior and interior worlds meet and meld and are translated into experience, sensation, and story at every moment.
When we’re stressed out, or irritated about a difficult interaction, or feel stuck, our sympathetic nervous system is triggered. Andrenaline and then cortisol permeate your blood stream. The amygdala is activated. As this happens, blood stops flowing to your neo-cortex, where there is the capacity for thoughtful consideration, perspective taking, flexible interpretations of events, new thoughts, and spontaneity. The ability to feel good diminishes. The ability to “work it out” might go out the window.
There are countless ways to change your chemistry, and enhance your brain’s ability to function. If you’re angry, scared, there are certainly reasons for it, and all emotions carry rich information, but your brain is not able to function with all its capacities at that moment.
In the case of music: When you put on a track that has a positive association for you – you know what happens. Your body moves toward the state it was in when those memories were formed. Your memories trigger a cascade of neurotransmitters and hormones that can help reverse the fight or flight response in the body, and help you feel better.
This is what I love: novelty is incredibly powerful for helping the neo-cortex activate and expand. Positive new experience, reasonable (not fear inducing) challenge, and safe-but-not-too-easy types of activities promote brain growth, flexibility, hopefulness, and resilience. So, if you put on music that you haven’t already listened to for years, and take a run down a different street, you’re healing your brain by engaging it. When it feels like you need a change, you probably do! Only it may not be as drastic as you think. Your brain is sending you the message that it needs different stimulation to shift out of whatever over-familiar neuropathways are activated in that moment. Listen to something different, do something new, give your brain a bath in novelty.
Music is one of my daily adventures. Immersed in new soundscapes, life’s storms become rich adventures, full of possibilities.