The other day, I was walking to work and found myself starting a negative train of thought..
thinking about financial troubles in the family,
feeling guilty about not having worked out as many times as planned that week, and on and on..
And then I saw an article from meditation spokesperson Gabby Bernstein about a song she recommends for increasing our ‘positive thoughts and intuitive knowing’.
I looked it up on youtube and it happened to be by a singer whose music brought me so much peace in the past.
I played this song in my headphones and immediately felt a wave of peace, and as I started to sing along with the words, I felt refreshed and clear. I sang along for the entire 20 minutes of the song
While I was singing, I realized that there was something in common about this music and a few other songs (like this cheerful melody from Nigeria) that instantly stop the trainwreck of thoughts that circle around in my head:
1) They are in a language I don’t understand
2) There is a ‘mantra’ or repetitive style to the structure of the song (a mantra is something you repeat over and over again for the goal of clearing your mind).
Why this works:
If you don’t understand the lyrics, it suspends your rational, left hemisphere from using words as cues to start the ‘next story’ rolling.
If you’re listening to music in a familiar language, as soon as you hear a word you understand, it instantly sparks connections in your mind of past experiences involving that word.
Kind of like this:
You hear Rihanna singing, “work, work, work, work… da duh da duh da dada (no idea what she says after that)…. You start thinking… geez, all I do is work. I would love a day off work… when is my next vacation? They don’t’ pay enough at this job… etc. etc. etc.
When you take away familiar words, you take away familiar stories.
And that can be a really good thing.
Play a song like this in your car on your headphones and once you memorize a small section, sing along as much as you can.
Try not to take any breaks from singing, humming or listening to the words of the song. This will train your mind to build pathways for concentration and being present – and this is a key to getting breaks from the negative chatter that is always swirling around up there.
The more often you do this, the more you strengthen networks NOT involved in your negative stories
In the next post, I’ll explain why the mantra style helps us, and why singing along makes our body and brain happy!