We live in an age where people reach out more and without as much stigma, to emotional resources like therapies, medication, and support groups.
A younger generation than mine, now seem to share the information that they are going to their therapist with pride. Self care is becoming cool. How wonderful. I still remember my journey down my therapist's driveway, in my neighbourhood, being concerned that someone would see me, recognize me, think I was “crazy”. Looking back now I know the sanest thing I ever did, were all those walks down his driveway. Many younger people seem to know this. Society as a whole is following.
It is important though, to remember that over time there have been many ways that people survived losses, relieved stresses and felt joyous. Music seems to me to be the most fundamentally human way this has happened. Every culture from the beginning of time has had it. It connects our souls, bodies and mind. It can help us feel whole.
Singing to, dancing to, emoting to, sharing music are just a few of the ways music comes into our lives. You may be on your own, with the ones closest to you, in large collective experience, through ceremonies, in a car or on public transit.
Many of you may have had a tough day at work, gotten into your car and turned your music up to a level that drowned out stressful thoughts. Maybe even with the window open. Maybe those tough thoughts could fly away…
We may have early memories of feeling music with our parents or siblings. This may have brought peace, silliness, the release of stress release in a household.
Music may have been your friend. Some children are lonely and music, in the absence of siblings, friends or parents, can be a predictable companion.
The radio/Spotify/CD’s/iPods/turntables can be such a source of pleasure and release.
What wonderful movie was not accompanied by songs that moved us deeply?
Who has not listened to a song and felt they understood the meaning so deeply that perhaps they were brought to tears? How about a song that just makes you happy and you break out into dance? These can be uplifting, warm, and welcoming experiences. Even the sad ones.
Let not forget about the angry songs. For many people anger is the most difficult emotion to express in any way. To me it seems like this is part of why metal music exists and that live performances of this music are so electric, so memorable, so craved. The anger-gets out!
Music can be a way to release what could otherwise be held in and that is so important for happiness. More important that we know until we experience it. Then our body may release, relax. Perhaps we may take a nice deep breath in and out. This kind of breathing nourishes our bodies and our minds.
Therapy can build on and enhance this experiences you have found for yourself. Over time it can be with you every step of the way. As you may explore your grief, anger, fear from painful experiences in life, music can be found to match the mood, helping you engage with what needs to be felt. Feeling is part of the healing.
Working with a skilled therapist can be a creative experience. We may journey down different lines of thought and feelings. There may be tears and what often surprises people, laughter. A good therapeutic relationship is layered with human nuances of relating. Engaging in this way means you can co-create something really special, like a piece of music.