Music speaks to us through the entirety of our lives. It brings us back to a time and place, it lulls us to sleep. It can make our workouts more fun, and it can provide the perfect ambiance to an evening of conversation.
Music plays a large part in the work I do. A variety of instrumental folk music supports the relaxation of clients on my massage table. In Essentrics, the music helps us move more fluidly as when increasing movement through the torso, with more purpose as we do plies and leg toning, and with ease during our final stretch. Throughout the workout, our brains are working to match pacing and movements to the music - great for both body and brain health.
Music can also help with specific conditions. In this National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Article: Music and Health, the many benefits of music-based intervention are documented in scientific reviews. Here are a few:
Our brains benefit from music whether we listen to it, play an instrument, or sing. In this Johns Hopkins Medicine Article: Keep Your Brain Young With Music, one suggestion is listening to your children’s or grandchildren’s music in order to benefit your brain. We can become stuck in a groove (pardon the pun) if we continue to listen to the same music we are comfortable with. Listening to, or learning, new genres helps us stay young. My daughter and I listen to her playlists on all of our road trips, so I feel confident that my brain is learning new music and words every time we travel together.
Music helps us remember things - and not just time and place memories. Think of all the jingles from old television commercials - you probably still know every word. Or songs we learned as children that we can instantly recall even if we haven’t heard them in years. One of my favorite silly songs starts out: “I went to the animal fair…” Do you remember the rest of the words? Here’s a video to help you out: The Animal Fair.
Whether you play, sing, listen, hum or whistle a tune, or tap on the steering wheel while waiting for the light to turn green, music enhances our lives.
“How are you feeling?”
Marc Brackett, Ph. D., offers up this query at the start of his book, Permission to Feel. I took up his suggestion, and asked this question of myself randomly over the next couple of days. The results surprised me: increased self-awareness and applicable insights.
Why did asking that simple question yield such a useful outcome? Because most of us proceed through our daily lives without much attention to how we are actually feeling. Initially this may not seem problematic. But what happens when you overreact and explode when the mom distracted by her three kids runs over your toe with her grocery cart? Perhaps you really are that mad at her - or perhaps you are still steaming from the argument with your co-worker earlier this morning. Because you didn’t check in with yourself after the argument, and didn’t give yourself some time to process your emotions from the argument, your feelings erupt in an inappropriate time and place.
Bracket brings us into a world where we tune into our own feelings, cultivate awareness for the feelings of others, and ultimately develop a greater capacity for relationships, personal and in the workplace. In this Article: Forbes: Brené Brown and Marc Brackett on Emotional Intelligence, Brackett explains why gaining emotional skills is important. Our emotions:
Emotional intelligence, defined by Oxford Languages as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically,” was coined in 1990 by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. This definition (and the much longer one Brackett quotes in his book) sounds lovely, but how do we take this into our day-to-day lives and apply emotional skills in order to reap the benefits?
Brackett has a handy acronym to help us out: RULER.
Emotional skills can be learned and developed by any person, at any age, at any time. You do not have to be born with emotional capacity. By tuning in to our emotions, as well as to the emotions of others, getting curious, naming what we are feeling, picking the right time and place to express our emotions, we learn to control or regulate our emotions. This allows us to communicate with ourselves and the people in our lives effectively, building trust and compassion, rather than being bewildered or sabotaged by our emotions.
You can start by asking yourself and your loved ones, “how are you feeling?” And stick around for the answer.
Jacqueline Denny, ACC, CHPC, LMT