Be Still

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Man envies every least deserving thing.  He strives and dies for the things that should always be allocated at the background of reality.  The promotion, the size of his home, his bank account, the attention given by others, where his kids go to school, where he dines and gathers- all take center stage and consume the pathway to his purpose. And nature which seeks to teach him how to live, how to be happy, is altogether ignored, kicked away like an orphan who incessantly begs for loose change and crumbs.  He seldom ponders the trees that show him how to weather the inevitable storms, to stand strong through the turbulence, to accept harmoniously the place it’s been given, and to fall gracefully when it is time.  It’s tragic that we often fall prey to the erroneous escapes of life’s struggles-the pill, the powder, the bottle, the dollar, the relationship, etc- through self medication and yet, often ignore the guiding example of nature.   Nature stands still, stoically, through both the pleasant moments and drudgery of existence.  It doesn’t rebel nor complain about what should or could be… it stands and exists in perfect harmony with what is and what has been given.  If you’ve run out of answers, if there’s no more ways to escape left in you, switch your focus to bringing nature and life center stage and lessen your priorities on those things that hinder.  

The Deep Path

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We fall into trances…asking what seems to be broad existential questions regarding meaning and purpose.  A man in dire straits who engages in self reflection may at some point ask himself “why is this happening to me?”  If he would just remain still he would discover that he need not go far externally or into his mental faculties to find the answer.  Most times he snaps out of his contemplation due to desperation and attempts to find the answer from the outside, missing the chance of finding the answer right there in front of him. The answer he seeks can most times be found within his question.  So if he asks “why is this happening to me?”, the correct answer will likely be “why, this is happening to me!”  Though we may find it unlikely or even quite a strange response, it is one of the few answers that will prompt him to action.  Another matter to take note of is if the one asking the question already possesses the answer during or prior to asking, it is essentIal to ponder who is it that does the asking.  Surely, it is the same one who answers. This points to the strong likelihood that divine guidance resides inside man.  

Laugh Out Loud

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What makes anything beautiful, what gives it life, is the experience it has had.  We stare at a certain painting and become mesmerized by something unexplainable-there is an emotion, a life, a story that it has lived.  This is the essence of all things worthwhile.  They are neither fabricated or desired.  Instead, these are the things that preserve us and provides a deeper connection to ourselves and the world around us.  To be fully in the moment entails a full participation and realization of the experience.  Experiencing moments where we are submerged in what’s occurring is the lifeblood of humanity.  A bellyaching laugh, a melancholic embrace, a joyful victory, an attentive posture-all provide the opportunity to make the most of our lives.  

Without the experience of participating in the moment, we lose an essential part of ourselves-a missing part that becomes excruciating to live with.  Before we turn to medicine to alleviate our instabilities and sorrows, let’s ask ourselves how much are we participating in the joy of living, and how much are we avoiding it through diluted means of connecting?  An emoji can never take the place of seeing a beautiful face smile.  An “lol” cannot doesn’t come close to shared laughter around a table of friends. And words types across a screen can never replace an invaluable embrace of a loved one in distress.  What makes anything beautiful is the loyal commitment to strive to engage in life as much as possible.  

The Way of Music: Improving the Moment with Sounds.

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You wake up after a restless night of hearing the sound of your voice, the inner judge, chirping crickets, thunder and rain. You walk outside and you can here the chirping of birds, children playing on the sidewalk and the sound of cars, the sound of movement. You forget about the twisting and turning during the night and resume your day.

I am not a music therapist, nor do I have enough information about how music therapy can be effective but I can describe how music over the years has has an impact on mental health. Music, time and time again, has helped shape political movements, cross boundaries created by racism and has shaped its way in and out of culture. The blues which seems to be a paradoy of one’s depression sheds light to a difficult situation. Country music, a way of dealing with the difficult times of working in the South under the hot sun. Rap/hip-hop- a need to express the African American culture in a way that originally was based on rhythm and poetry to express the anger of systematic and culture racism. Punk rock- anger at government, the rules and the political climate. And Pop music , a celebration of freedom and happiness.

Of course those are all of my own opinions, but if we are to ever say that listening to AC/DC or Ozzy Osbourne’s ” Suicide Solution” led to deaths or suicide, can’t we also have a discussion how those same artist have helped others feel a sense of belonging?  Imagine you don’t play sports but you can relate to the captain of the soccer team by his taste in music and talk about music the way he talks about the World Cup.

Unfortunately, this is not an entry about what sounds or songs to listen to when you are feeling depressed or angry. My personal list would be too long and I truly believe music is that one thing that is subjective. I might like rap and country and you might be the one out of many who say “I listen to everything except rap and country.”

Is the speed of sound quicker than the speed of thought?  I don’t know, but the next time you have trouble falling asleep listen to the noises outside of your inner speech  and see what happens. There is a category of “break-up songs” for a reason.

I will leave you with this. There was a study done in China for pregnant women on bed rest during times when CDs were being used. To summarize (the link is below), the pregnant women who listened to the music seemed to have an easier time, got off bed rest, and reported a decrease in depression.  I don’t know the evidence behind it but as a therapist and a musican I believe in both as tools to help heal.

The link:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.researchgate.net/publication/26773691_Music_Therapy_To_Relieve_Anxiety_In_Pregnant_Women_On_Bedrest/amp

 

By Noah Goldberg, RSWI, MSW

Regroup and Refocus: Managing Anxiety Through Mindfulness

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I’d like you to try something. I want you to feel your anxiety, the train of thoughts , the hamster on the wheel, the fear, that overwhelming pressure of stress.

Ok, now I’d like you accept it without judgement. This is the hard part.

How is this helpful? What is the point? Did a therapist really just tell me to be anxious?

Well, acknowledgement of your feelings can allow you to regroup and refocus, to better react. Our amygdala is about the size of pea, and it’s responsible for all those things that keep us up all night, going over the lists of what was wrong and what was right. But, if we can take the time and step outside of the abstract picture of thought and see the frame, we can better see the painting.

I have been a drummer for about 17 years. Occasionally, in my new band ( no this isn’t self promotion) I need to play a drum solo. It can be nerve racking and stressful , especially in the middle of an intense show where I am drenched in sweat. Benny Greb, a drummer once said: ” If you can step outside that zone, the zone of thought , and regroup and refocus yourself , you can perform better because you are not on autopilot mode.”

So the next time you are feeling anxious, the next time life hands you a drum solo of anxiety, take the time to regroup and refocus. Mindfulness, isn’t just some new age meditation. Through controlled breathing , visualizing with hope and slowing your thoughts down, you can control how you want to approach a situation at work, at home or on stage.

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