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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Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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She's a strident activist and he's a piece of YouTube trash, but they both point out how far our culture still needs to go in terms of understanding health.
In true crime, there's a mythical notion of the "perfect victim" (young, beautiful, often female, with no criminal history of her own).
How closely one fits this arbitrary model is sadly correlated with how much public attention and sympathy a victim will receive. Similarly, there's a strange cultural expectation that sufferers of chronic illness need to be the "perfect sick person" (graceful, quiet, grateful) in order to be believed. Recent celebrity backlashes underscore the misconception that crippling chronic illnesses are rarer than they actually are and that they exist in isolation (in reality, many conditions come with co-morbid, or simultaneous, illnesses). From Jake Paul claiming that anxiety is all in the mind to actress Jameela Jamil being accused of having Munchausen's Syndrome, the reality of "invisible illnesses"–conditions that don't necessarily cause visible disabilities– is still wildly misunderstood and misrepresented in the media.
For years Jamil has been an outspoken activist for mental health, LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, body acceptance, and female empowerment. That's included open criticism of toxic diet culture on Instagram and Twitter and launching her movement I Weigh, a "rebellion against shame" that highlights people's accomplishments and worth beyond their physical appearance.
But in February, a writer named Tracie Morrissey took to Instagram with an extensive collection of screenshots of Jamil's interviews dating back over 10 years. She pointed out what she perceived to be discrepancies throughout Jamil's accounts of her health struggles, accusing her of purposefully lying about or causing her own illnesses for attention (Munchausen's Syndrome). Aside from being born partially deaf, Jamil's been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder, and the condition can weaken various joints, organs, and whole body systems.
In response, Jamil pointed out how insidious stigmas about disabilities lead to accusations that individuals are faking their illnesses. She posted on Instagram, "I have had to fight like a f-cking dog this week against false accusations, people framing my words, and deliberately taking them out of context, trying to discredit my entire integrity, and going after disabled members of my family. And for what? To stop me from being an activist against eating disorders? To stop me from de stigmatizing conversations about mental health, suicides, sexual consent, abortions, women's rights, trans rights?"
She continued, "I've been in this business 11 years and am a smart woman. I wouldn't lie in print or on camera knowing how permanent the internet is. Especially knowing how much our media loves to portray women as liars and hysterics." She concluded, "At least we've started a huge mainstream conversation about invisible illness/chronic illness and the mockery and disbelief that comes with what is already a near impossible existence. So something good always comes of a shit storm. Big love for the messages of support and similar stories of gaslighting you've all faced. I'm so sorry. That's so painful."
Indeed, too many genetic anomalies and illnesses go unheeded by doctors, as the medical community remains uninformed about many established diseases, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which disproportionately impacts women and takes an average of 10 to 20 years to receive a proper diagnosis. In 2019, the Ehlers-Danlos Society awarded Jamil with the Patient Advocate of the Year. Upon acceptance, Jamil said, "I am sorry it took me so long to speak publicly about my condition. I think I was afraid of being discriminated against, and I think I feel, I felt, discouraged by how little information there is about it publicly, and still how little research is being done around this condition. It's terrifying how many doctors still haven't heard of it, and it's been around for a very long time. So many people have it, and so many more people than we realize as they don't know the symptoms, because the symptoms aren't being discussed en masse."
I would have spoken on this earlier but Jameela asked me not to. Please read x https://t.co/edpC3BRwd8— James Blake (@James Blake)1581700483.0
Part of this problem is, as Jamil pointed out in her Instagram post: Women are still commonly not believed, and their pain is not taken seriously within the medical community. Research consistently shows that women are prescribed less pain medication after surgery, wait longer to receive pain medication during visits to the emergency room, and are far more likely to be told that their pain is "psychosomatic" or due to emotional upset. One survey of 2,400 women found that at least 83% of respondents had experienced gender discrimination from a health care provider. Dr. Fiona Gupta, a neurologist and director of health in neurosurgery at Mount Sinai in New York City, says, "I can't tell you how many women I've seen who have gone to see numerous doctors, only to be told their issues were stress-related or all in their heads. Many of these patients were later diagnosed with serious neurological problems, like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. They knew something was wrong, but had been discounted and instructed not to trust their own intuition."
James Blake, who's dating Jamil, defended his girlfriend on Twitter: "I'm not gonna stand by and let some total strangers try to push my girlfriend over the edge to what… stop her from helping kids with eating disorders? Stop removing mainstream shame of talking about mental health?" he said, before concluding, "What are any of you even doing? And why are so many of you enjoying this? It's sick to watch, and I don't ever see men treated like this, the way we tear women limb from limb."
The dual challenges of stigma and lack of awareness are only exacerbated when it comes to invisible illnesses, which can range from heart disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes, psychiatric illness, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer. These individuals are often told they "don't look sick," which exemplifies the cultural ignorance that still exists about illness: There is no such thing as "looking sick." People with visible disabilities or who use mobility aids or other visible health care devices are not broadcasting their health condition so they can defend their diagnoses. In the same vein, people whose illnesses don't involve visible impairments aren't invalid in their struggles. Their illnesses go undetected and can be difficult to diagnose due to slow-developing or inconsistent symptoms, their similarity with other more common ailments, and, above all, a dangerous lack of cultural awareness.
One thing I will say is that this bullshit has raised a really important conversation about how we gaslight people… https://t.co/f5qvsqnqAu— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1581663757.0
For instance, Jake Paul recently invalidated every individual who's struggled with anxiety with the thoughtless (since-deleted) tweet, "Remember anxiety is created by you. Sometimes you gotta let life play out and remind yourself to be happy & that the answers will come. Chill your mind out. Go for a walk. Talk to a friend." In reality, this kind of advice not only minimizes the mental and physical damage caused by anxiety but implies that sufferers are ultimately to blame for their own symptoms. In reality, anxiety disorders affect roughly 15% - 20% of the population and not because those people fail to "remind [themselves] to be happy." The director of research and special projects at the American Psychological Association, Dr. Vaile Wright, clarified, "Anxiety is a combination of physiological and emotional responses typically to stressful things in our life or things that are going on." Specifically, during times of stress the brain releases a hormone called cortisol, among other chemicals, and elevated levels of cortisol over a period of time are proven to negatively affect memory, learning, the immune system, and the heart's ability to function. She added, "You can't avoid anxiety. You can't avoid the triggers that cause it, but you can learn how to cope with it and you can seek out the help that you really need to learn those behaviors."
As an influencer with nearly 20 million YouTube subscribers, Paul's irresponsible remark befits the online reputation of him and his brother, Logan Paul, for having thoughtless, juvenile, and exploitative online presences–with an alarmingly large audience of young people. Both brothers were criticized by mental health professionals in 2019 when YouTuber Shane Dawson created a series on Jake Paul speculating if the creator is a "sociopath," which is an outdated layman's term from pop culture that was never part of scientific criteria. Logan said, "A lot of us, me included, will do some dumb sh—, maybe some stuff that lacks empathy, strictly for views. It gets us views, which gets us subscribers. Our motivating factor is to reach the next, next, next level." He added, "Sociopath is, boiled down, someone who is just more savage than everyone else." No, it's not. Again, "sociopath" is a now-outdated informal term that only carries meaning in pop psychology–and, like all lazy language, it can have damaging consequences.
This is especially true in the age of Instagram, with chronically ill communities and activists using the platform to spread awareness. Writer Caira Conner of NBCNews commented on the discrimination and stigma inherent in accusations that Jamil had Munchausen's Syndrome. She wrote of the challenges of chronic illness from the point of view of someone who's been diagnosed with three autoimmune conditions, among other illnesses. "The sense of culpability that pervades chronic illness can be a gnawing, wicked companion to the illness itself," she wrote. She adds that she's not personally a fan of Jamil's kind of advocacy, because social media, the main medium Jamil uses to spread her message, presents a filtered version of life with a chronic illness. "The helplessness of it all isn't captured," she wrote. "It is a snapshot... deliberately self-flattering and decidedly detached from the context it pretends to highlight."
She added, "The point Jamil makes about illness—the idea that someone can be suffering and yet still be perennially met with suspicion, even outright dismissiveness—is important." Since there is, in reality, a "profound sense of loss and disappointment that accompanies a non-terminal lifelong diagnosis. There is more compassion and empathy to be elicited from viewers when they can clearly see the ravages of a particular condition, when the element of tragedy is irrefutable."
The overarching truth, in Conner's words, is our "need, as a culture, to find a third way, somewhere between the cripplingly binary options of victory or defeat, compassion or denial, cheering or cutting down" to recognize and validate all human life.
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