MUSIC AS THERAPY
The world of music is a rich source of materials for personal inspiration, mindfulness exercises and for inclusion in relaxation and visualization sessions. Each person’s experience of music is unique. I will share a few of my experiences with you today and give you some suggestions as to how you might use music as therapy.
Note that I have talked about being mindfully aware and mindfulness in recent posts.
MUSIC AS THERAPY: SONG LYRICS
I love poetry and the lyrics of many songs are poems. Sometimes just one line in a song can become for me a statement that I find helpful to recall when times are difficult. The following YouTube shows Damian McGinty singing “Come By the Hills”. Damian is a member of the group “Celtic Thunder” and comes from Northern Ireland. Part of the song is sung in Gaelic. The line that comes to my mind is:
“…and the cares of tomorrow can wait ’til this day is done.”
I love the Irish countryside and I love Irish music, music of so many different moods; thus the world of Irish music and my memories are a great source of food for my “soul” and wellbeing.
THINK ABOUT WHAT MUSIC IS GOOD FOR YOUR WELLBEING AND MAKE TIME TO LISTEN TO IT WHILE BEING MINDFULLY AWARE.
I love “Danny Boy”, the quintessential sad Irish song, a song that made my grandmother cry. In the following YouTube is sung by the contemporary Irish tenor Paul Byrom.
MUSIC AS THERAPY: MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION
This piece of music is By Arvo Part and is called “Spiegel im Spiegel” (Mirror in Mirror). Anne Akiko Meyers plays the violin and Reiko Uchida plays the piano. I used to play the violin and this is a beautiful piece.
Meditative music like this can help you to relax or practice mindfulness:
Need an antidote for stress? Try mindful awareness
MUSIC AS THERAPY: BEAUTY AND INSPIRATION
I love the song “Amazing Grace” and I like the French language; put the two together and the results can be exquisite. I attended a children’s Christian mass at a church in a small French village. I understood little of what was going on! However, a very young woman unexpectedly started singing “Amazing Grace” in French. One does not have to be deeply religious to appreciate such beauty. I was enchanted and that was a moment in time when I was mindfully aware. That was one of the rich moments in my life.
A few months later I witnessed the results of the Paris bombings on television. I was deeply moved. On the following YouTube photographs taken in Paris are shown while “Amazing Grace” is sung. The sadness of the occasion and the sadness of the song are powerful. There can be beauty and inspiration as well as devastation in sadness.
MUSIC AS THERAPY: FIND WHAT KIND OF MUSIC HELPS YOU TO RELAX
What kind of music helps you relax? Make time to sit or lie in a comfortable position and listen to it. I have a friend who listens to music at night with the lights off; that minimizes distractions. For relaxation I generally choose “classical music”. One of my favorites is Franz Schubert’s Notturno in E flat major, Op. 148, D.897. In the following Youtube this music is played by the “Suk Trio” with Josef Suk playing the violin, Jan Panenka the piano and Josef Chuchro the cello.
Another favorite is Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” for piano.The version in the following YouTube has the sounds of waves in the background. This piece lasts for about an hour. Close your eyes and imagine yourself walking along a moonlit beach or some other peaceful scene…or just relax and listen!
For me this blog post would be incomplete without giving you something to listen to by Mozart. The Andante from the following Piano Concerto No 21 in C major, K. 467 was used in the 1967 Swedish film “Elvira Madigan”. It is exquisite. Relax and let it carry you away!
Explore your world of music and find what is good for your “soul” and wellbeing. Use your choices as music for therapy.
Strengths-based counselling: using an individualized strengths-based approach
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS? EVEN WHEN LIFE IS VERY DIFFICULT WE CAN WORK WITH YOUR STRENGTHS. What are your unique skills or abilities? They can help you deal with challenges in your life, help you achieve your goals or be the keys that help you find meaning and purpose in your life.
Strengths-based counselling and psychotherapy focusses on the client’s strengths, capacities, desires, interests, talents, competencies, aspirations, abilities, knowledge, potentials, environmental resources and resilience.
Therapy is possibility-focussed rather than problem-focussed. The client is regarded as the expert and the therapist works collaboratively with them; empowerment of the client is a major objective.
The therapist helps the client to identify and draw upon their strengths. The focus is on the client’s abilities rather than their shortcomings, symptoms or difficulties. The possibility of growth and change or more effective coping is assumed. Each client has a unique set of strengths and abilities that he/she can use to deal with their problems. The client is encouraged to cultivate their interests and build their own strengths to pursue their goals.
Note that strengths-based counselling does not disregard a client’s pain and struggles. However the emphasis is not on their deficiencies, weaknesses, and problems as seen by others. It is considered that clients will do better in the long run when they are helped to identify, recognize, and use the strengths and resources available in themselves and their environment. This perspective also enables clients, who often lack confidence and feel like failures when seeking services, to have improved self-esteem. The counsellor/psychotherapist can help the client determine how they have strived despite adverse circumstances.
WHAT ARE YOUR CHARACTER STRENGTHS?
love of learning
sense of humour
To learn more about character strengths see:
Strengths-based counselling involves the counsellor and client collaborating to find past and present successes and use these to address current challenges being faced by the client.
My role as a counsellor/psychotherapist is not only to help people heal, though this is of course extremely important in the work I do. Another of my roles is to work with people who do not have a mental illness but are feeling a lack of fulfilment, a lack of meaning and purpose or a lack of self-esteem.
THE 10 THINGS I LIKE ABOUT ME:
This is a strengths-based exercise for building self-esteem.
To learn more see:
MINDFUL AWARENESS OR MINDFULNESS
Mindful awareness as an antidote to stress and anxiety is the subject of research. At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) The Mindful Awareness Research Centre is a partner of the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology with the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
In our modern society there have been great advances in science and technology while at the same time people are suffering a lot of stress that is contributing to a variety of mental health issues.
During the last decade, research has demonstrated that mindful awareness can be used to address a number of health issues. These include:
- help with anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive-disorder
- less emotional reactivity
- facilitates mental wellbeing
- boosting the immune system
- increasing attention and focus
- lowering blood pressure
- increasing the healing response
- thickening areas of the brain (e.g the pre-frontal cortex) involved in decision making, emotional flexibility empathy, self-awareness and compassion
Mindful awareness involves paying attention to present moment experiences. It invites you to
- STOP the flow of mental activity
- BREATHE (eyes open or closed)
- OBSERVE INTERNALLY e.g body sensations, emotions, thoughts, mood; or OBSERVE EXTERNALLY
- CONNECT WITH ONE’S INNER EXPERIENCE
- DEAL WITH YOUR DISTRACTING, WANDERING MIND Mindfulness practice helps you to deal with your constant inner dialogue which can be very intrusive e.g negative “brain chatter”. You can learn how not to be swept away by it. Note: the aim is not to stop thinking but to let go of thoughts. You can imagine your thoughts as small clouds floating by.
- TO BE PRESENT WITH ALL THAT LIFE BRINGS WHETHER JOYFUL OR PAINFUL
Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness training; it has been adapted from Buddhist mindfulness meditation. It has been described as a state of being in the present accepting things for what they are i.e without judgement.
- keeps your mind from being lost in the past or future e.g catastrophizing
- helps counteract automaticity; we are often on “auto pilot”. You can be helped to be more connected.
- can be practised as a type of meditation or as a quality of attention you bring into daily life e.g when you are walking
- can reduce stress
- involves being rather than doing
- awakens your senses
Example: Mindful Walking
While you are walking concentrate on the feel of the ground under your feet and your breathing when walking. Observe what is going on around you and stay in the present. Let other thoughts go. Look at the sky and the view. Feel the wind on your face. Enjoy the moment.
See the following YouTube with Diana Winston (UCLA) for an introduction to the basics of mindful awareness, both theory and practice.
The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has free guided mindfulness meditations presented as podcasts. You can practice these on your own.
For further information see:
For “Free Meditation Podcasts at the Hammer Museum” see the weekly podcasts at:
See the following YouTube for guidance through a “Breathing Meditation” with Diana Winston, UCLA Mindfulness Research Centre. This is a mindfulness exercise that focusses on your breathing, your body and relaxation. It takes just a few minutes and is something you could practise regularly.
Mindfulness in the midst of life. Mindful awareness can be practised as a quality of attention you bring into daily life e.g when you are walking
CHILDREN ARE OFTEN MINDFULLY AWARE
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MINDFULNESS AND HOW TO INCORPORATE IT INTO YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIVING CALL ME TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT AT EITHER CASTLE HILL OR WAHROONGA:
Mob 0478 783 506
Tel 9943 2400