Spiral ShapePaulAdams Music
with David Hoffman

 
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  Paul Adams composes music, writes, and builds musical instruments. He has also worked in the mental health field for 20 years. See above links for more info

 

Music and Meditation

 

I compose a variety of music some of which is appropriate for meditation, stress management, message, and relaxation. I wanted to write this short page on music and meditation, for beginners. I thought it best not to include difficult physical and mental rules about what has to be done. Those more deeply involved in Yoga and other meditation excercises are aware of the technique of their path. Being from the midwest, I tend to take a practical approach to many things. (BTW, If you would like to hear music in the background while you read this you may click here to listen to a cut from my album The Property Of Water.) You might also find Stillness Of The Day from my album FLUTE MEDITATIONS FOR DREAMING CLOUDS appropriate by pressing here.). I am also not very sure about the provability and measurability of exactly how music affects the mind and body. I am perhaps even more unsure about how such things as subliminal recordings help. Again, I have the "un measurability" problem. Even though I have worked in the field of mental health for over 25 years, I am not a scientist, and certainly not a researcher. What I offer here are impressions seeped in some practical experience rather than data. I will offer you links at the bottom of the page to allow you to read about these subjects with more detail. If you are interested in reading a bit about me, my albums, instruments, writing and poetry, you may seek the links on the left side of this page.

It can be helpful to "visualize" a beautiful scene while meditating.

For those of you that wish to try a starters meditation and relaxation journey, you may scroll down to the sub heading Diaphramatic Breathing below. Otherwise please read on just a bit..

I do want to offer a practical look at how music can help in slowing one down, or initiate what has been called "The Relaxation Response". I also want to make some comments on what I see, and what my impressions are about much of the popular music being composed today. My opinions are just that, they are my opinions - they may be right or wrong. But perhaps I'll just lay a few things on the line about my viewpoint in this area:

TRUE or FALSE

1. Music does not affect people as individuals or society:

FALSE. On the "Grammy's" I saw Snoop Dog state that music doesn't "tell people what to do, people think for themselves." I don't believe this. I think people are easily influenced. If not why would Snoop hire a publicist and marketing firm?

2. Music pop/culture only reflects the world, and does not have an effect or participate in the creation of change or influence:

TRUE and FALSE. It's obvious that contemporary or popular history is reflected in much of today's music, film, and art. But, it can also create impressions. For example, place one very worried person whose level of anxiety is high, in a room alone. Introduce five other people in the room that are worried, AND focus, discuss, and repeatedly expound on this first persons anxiety. His level will most likely increase (I have however found that sometimes an anxious person can respond positively when introduced to other anxious people. Perhaps they feel less "alone" with their problem. But, if the worry issues are continually repeated and recycled over too long a period of time, this can defeat this "shared assurance", and start to create more worry. It's as if there is an invisible time line that when crossed, moves from the realm of catharsis into the realm of added neurosis.).

3. There is a specific type of music that MUST have certain elements of TONE, SCALE, PITCH and PRESENTATION, that is best for music and meditation and relaxation.

TRUE and FALSE. It is evident as shown by Don Campbell and others, that certain tones and sounds are conducive to relaxation. And most would agree that loud aggressive music would be a rare choice in facilitation of what is called "the relaxation response". However, not all "peaceful, clinical, or New Agey" music works for everyone. I have seen highly credentialed teachers and scientists, create CD's that use certain tones, at certain frequencies, designed to elicit specific body and mind responses, that can be subjectively displeasing to the average ear.

In "gleaning" feedback from clients I have worked with in using music and relaxation, I discovered a few things. Some of these may be generalities but here goes:

Music that offered certain tones and frequencies, but that were devoid of structure, rhythm, harmony, or melody, could seem unfamiliar and foreign. Music overly "vacuous" or "ethereal" with no structure was slightly frightening to some clients who had a history of being abused, OR to clients who suffered from isolation and a poor sense of self. Many - including myself, can find ethereal music pleasing. But perhaps this music left them "too alone" with as yet "unresolved past issues of trauma". On the other hand, gentle music with a familiar melody comforted them and made them feel less alone. They were with the familiar, and the familiar is usually more comfortable (There is an irony here in that people who are victims of spousal abuse for example, sometimes choose to stay in that situation because of familiarity. So, familiarity can be both positive and negative).

Once when leading a seminar on music and relaxation to about 30 women in a drug rehabilitation center, I found that some of what we termed as popular music was relaxing. One particular lady felt a sense of calm, familiarity, and centeredness, while listening to the blues. Another enjoyed traditional jazz (Bee Bop.). Yet another classical. As I didn't want to force these ladies to deal w/ more than they had on their plate (Being in a 30 day drug rehab program is not for sissy's.), I thought it best to utilize what was best for THEM. AND, I want to emphasize the same thing with this little article. Whatever makes you feel COMFORTABLE, SAFE, CENTERED, CALM, is what I invite you to use.

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RELATING LINKS

Depression Page

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Anxiety and Panic

Outside informational links

Anxiety Coach

Answers to questions about Panic Disorders

Anxiety Network

At Health.com