When you listen to music, what’s going on in your mind? Are you focused on the music and nothing else? Or does your mind flood with recognizable associations with it… or do thoughts come at random that seem to have nothing to do with the music so you find yourself attending to those while the music recedes into background? Do you find yourself thinking about the music rather than actually listening…or welling up with emotion to the degree that your feelings become your focus? All of these responses to music are so much a part of its value, its importance and its purpose for us, other than the sheer enjoyment of it.
In truth it is not an easy practice to actually simply listen, to attune your self exclusively to the notes, the melody, and all the elements of the piece. Our minds are filled with thoughts, images, ideas and memories, and myriad associations with music, and when we sit quietly without external stimulation to distract us, we can become aware of the flow of those contents from subconscious to conscious. This is a kind of free association and can be a very useful process employed therapeutically. Indeed I have used music to evoke recall of certain life experiences, or to release emotions associated with them.
Only those who are experienced practitioners of refined and disciplined meditation can actually slow and sometimes briefly stop the ever flowing thought processes to quiet the conscious mind. The mind is a busy place. The subconscious is always busily occupied with its responsibilities; it never sleeps: Nor does the brain, the tool through which the mind expresses itself and manifests its presence in our lives.
I’ve often meditated on music; it’s a pure and uninterrupted focus on the sounds. Yet it is natural to be drawn to specific elements of a concerto, or symphony, or the song’s melody or lyrics. So I have made it my project at times to just consciously listen to the wholeness of it. Because of Mind Mastery I am able to accomplish this quite often. May I suggest you take time for this endeavor? It will be most rewarding.
Frankly, as much as I love to have lots of music in my life,certain kinds of music for me, are not quite as satisfying as background to other things I am doing. Not that I don’t have my stereos on and my favorite pieces playing while I’m working, or my favorite radio stations on ( choosing for me what I listen to). I realize how important music is to me, even at those times when I am unable to just sit and listen: I also know that even when my conscious mind has drifted from the music, my subconscious is listening, for I find myself humming along absent-mindedly.
I feel the need for music as much as I do for silence… the quiet times to just be. So when I listen to the radio to hear music, even when actively engaged in other things and the program host/s are prattling on and on about unrelated stuff, and think to my self, ‘Oh do shut up and just play the music!’
I am interested in almost everything about the composers and their music; however, at times all I want is those wonderfully therapeutic sounds to fill my room and my consciousness. And I do often allow my subconscious to stream into my awareness my associations, and bring me fresh new ideas, or I become aware of something that was until then secretly held in my subconscious, awaiting the right time to be revealed.
There is a time and place for everything.
With regards to that, music in restaurants is seldom background; it’s often so loud so that it is almost impossible to hold a conversation. Voices get raised in the effort to be heard and the din is hardly adding to the ambience in the establishment. In fact it’s quite stressful. Loud sounds are not only damaging to the ears, they are a form of pollution.
Actually music is often used to drown out thought and feelings, too.
Have you ever used it that way?
I have thought of music as food for my soul. It is said music is the universal language of love. It speaks to us in a way our human voices cannot ( except by those whose voices are musical instruments in themselves) and expresses things we could never articulate; and composes for us the songs of association and creates moods as well as inner peace when it seems that all is chaos and striving.
So do listen. Music has almost as many uses as it does forms.Discover as many as you can.
TTFN and all the best, always from Elaine Kissel