Listen to our playlist of healing songs while reading this (linked at the bottom) for optimal effect.
Anyone who's ever loved a song or cried to a great album knows: Music can be truly healing.
There's actually a scientific basis for that feeling of euphoria and comfort you get from listening to certain music. Music can do a ton of extraordinary things—it can increase our dopamine levels, can affect breathing and heart rate, and can even transport us back in time by triggering our emotional memory.
Because of its unique capabilities, music has long been a popular form of healing across the world. Many ancient religions believed the world was a collection of vibrations, and "good vibrations," or harmonious sounds, could promote healing and balance, while jarring vibrations could lead to physical and mental disturbances. "In Vedic teachings, the science of the influence of sound and music is known as Gandharva Veda. Through this practice, the music of nature is used to restore balance to your mind and body," writes Vedic educator Adam Brady. "Using specific pieces of music or melodies, vibratory coherence can be strengthened, assisting with healing and helping to settle the mind."
Earth's Vibrational Frequency - Schumann Resonance Healing Music With Binaural Beats www.youtube.com
Good Vibrations www.youtube.com
In the modern world, music therapists are still being utilized everywhere from psychiatric facilities to nurseries to corporate retreats and beyond. In general, music therapists are trained to play specific kinds of music to evoke certain responses. Often, their work goes beyond emotions and treats physiological ailments. In some recent clinical studies, music has been able to restore lost speech, reduce side effects of cancer therapy, relieve pain, and improve life for dementia patients. It can improve symptoms for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, and can even increase empathy. In other studies, music has literally changed the shape and increased the resiliency of human blood cells, possibly increasing the human lifespan.
This healing happens in all different ways. Sometimes, music and sound therapists use specific frequencies and sounds to target very specific ailments. Other times, lyrics play a stronger role, either motivating patients or inspiring them or making them feel less alone. Sometimes music therapy even involves teaching patients to play their own instruments and to write their own songs. Music has also long been used in social movements, with songs like "We Shall Overcome" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" playing integral roles in tying protests together. So if you've ever heard a song and felt like it changed your life, you're probably not alone—music can do a lot more than change your mood: It can also change the world.
We Shall Over Come - Mahalia Jackson www.youtube.com
If you're dealing with mental health issues or are simply seeking inspiration, finding a music therapist might be a great alternative to traditional talk therapy. But there are also some easy ways to also incorporate music into your self-care practice.
How to Use Music to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
If you want to use music to help with anxiety, one study from Stanford University found that three types of music reduce stress best:
- Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instrments, drums and flutes
- Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature
- Light jazz, classical, and easy listening
You can also participate in a healing sound bath or a sound meditation, which are widely available on streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube. Here are a bunch to listen to, via the University of Nevada. (Try "Echoes of Time," a Native American flute music piece, or "Weightless," a composition by Marconi Union designed to reduce blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol stress hormone).
Marconi Union - Weightless (Official Video) www.youtube.com
You can also try listening to recordings of Tibetan singing bowls, which are specially designed to fill your body with healing resonance.
Quick 11 min. Chakra Tune-up with Himalayan Singing Bowls HD www.youtube.com
The Beatles - Hey Jude www.youtube.com
In general, positive-sounding and peaceful compositions will get the job done, though of course sad songs can also offer necessary catharsis.
For an optimal stress-reducing experience, make sure you drop everything and allow yourself to listen to the music. Don't use your phone or do work while listening; instead, throw on a pair of your best headphones, lock yourself in a dark room and let the sound waves wash the rest of the world away, bringing you into a magical realm of peace and harmony. This can bring your brain into an "alpha state," which is "that relaxed but alert feeling you get when activity ceases and you have a moment to reflect and recharge," according to Dr. Frank Lipman.
Use Music to Raise Your Mood
On a basic level, happy music can make you happy—though of course it doesn't always work out that way. Still, since music has such a strong effect on memory, if you're looking to raise your mood, you might seek out songs that remind you of truly happy moments.
You can even preemptively design a playlist of music that will make you happy during tough times. The next time you're about to do something fun or are feeling content, make a playlist of songs that you listen to exclusively during that experience. Listen to it over and over, and then when you're feeling nostalgic, cue up that playlist and let the memories live on.
According to a Stanford University study, upbeat, energetic, and rhythmic selections can (unsurprisingly) raise one's mood most effectively. Compositions like Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train" and upbeat Beatles tunes were specifically effective in raising subjects' moods. In addition, dancing along to music can raise endorphins, and the combination of auditory stimulation and movement that comes from dancing to music can help improve your mood even more.
Binaural beats can also help raise your mood and can lower anxiety. This semi-experimental treatment uses tones at lower than 1000 Hz, and plays different frequencies in each ear. According to proponents of this therapy, the brain independently balances out the different frequencies, creating a sense of calm.
Music can also help out with insomnia. Mike Rowland's "The Fairy Ring" and G. F. Handel's "Water Music" were effective in helping patients sleep.
Regardless of what you listen to, most music therapists suggest that you spend at least 15-20 minutes giving your full attention to your music selection.
Music for Healing
Music for Healing open.spotify.com
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This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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