There’s some sort of catharsis in sitting down with your emotions and piecing together your thoughts in the form of songs. A form of meditation: in moments when I’m feeling down, I create a space where I can confront my emotions. A space where I’m met with audible examples reflecting my mental state back to me. Sometimes this comes through on my own. Sometimes I can sit down with pen and paper and create a tangible web of words that before was just a mess of my own mind. Other times my words fall short and I need to look elsewhere.
The American Psychological Association (APA) featured an article on the “healing power of vibration.” I took away from it how connected the mind and body are. Our bodies are vibrating at certain frequencies and we can emotionally feel when songs, situations, or people are in alignment with that. Music is a powerful tool for us to check in with ourselves and see if we are ignoring emotions or thoughts we weren’t intentionally avoiding. Being conscious of what songs we are seeking is how we channel this awareness.
There is contradiction between the predictability of music and the lack thereof in the day-to-day. Each morning I count on the sun’s glow to seep through my curtains. For the drip of coffee to flow steadily into my mug, settling into this day and what is to come. Yet for as much of my day I count on to remain constant, I am mostly met with unpredictability. On the simpler side of this, we experience red lights, conversations with friends we didn’t anticipate having, or surprises in weather veering us off track. Sometimes it gets more complicated. Life hurdles situations at us we don’t know we can bear.
I talked to my cousin Rick Mitarotonda, lead singer of the indie-jam band Goose, about his perspective and relationship with music. “It’s a language that can communicate. It has the ability to instill hatred and anger. It also has the ability to instill healing and love,” he said.
Music is all about potential. Capacity. At its core, music is a reflection of the consciousness. Even Mitarotonda mentioned how music impacts your bodily vibrations as well, stating “Thoughts, emotions, and feelings all affect your mind-body connection. Whatever is running through your unconscious can manifest through the music.”
Not only is music healing for the individual, but finding songs we resonate with is a form of reflection too. “I’m of the opinion that it’s a catalyst for self-explanation,” Mitarotonda said. “Song writing as a form of catharsis… a means of processing inner emotions.”
It’s easy for these emotions to become stagnant within us. This is an idea psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk dissects in his book “The Body Keeps the Score.” When emotions become stuck, either from trauma or whatever creates an excess of emotional energy, we feel physical ramifications. There is, undoubtedly, a connection between the mind and body.
“To me, it’s really mysterious. I don’t think I really want to understand it,” Mitarotonda added.
“The way I see it, we’re all channels. And music is another way for us to receive messages that were intended for us, whether the musician knows it or not.” Mitarotonda said. I think this speaks to a greater universal experience we all resonate with. It’s in the moments when you’re speaking with someone and they say something that doesn’t seem important to them, however for you it’s a message you deeply need to hear. That person is a conduit for whatever or whoever is trying to spread word to you.
In modern times it’s easy for emotions to become stagnant. There are so many avenues to suppress emotions. They’re available through TV, working too much, drinking and drugs being so heavily accessible. It takes you out of the present. Numbing yourself checks you out of your body and music is a way to open that pathway again. “It creates movement; opens up the heart; allows the flow of emotions,” Mitarotonda said.
Think of animals and their responses to emotions. They demonstrate the primal need to dispel ourselves of trauma. A deer gets hit by a car. At first the deer freezes, in shock. Then the deer shakes for seconds or minutes at a time. It physically expels the emotions, giving physical form to what once was mental.
Music is us attaching movement to these emotions, whether it be anger or fear or joy that manifests. We don’t have to be a talented musician or songwriter to understand how powerful music is. As any other human experiencing life’s turmoil, I know music is a way for me to tune into my own emotional state.