You are probably aware that music can have different influences. It can make you emotional, give you energy or have an impact in a completely different way. But often we mainly have music on as a kind of background noise. A way not to sit in silence or to literally keep the outside world out. Music can also be used in another way: by listening to music mindfully, for example, you can reduce stress.
Why mindfully listen to music?
It’s a bit like meditation, listening to music mindfully. It is just not the same as, for example, music in the background while meditating. Mindful music listening is really about the music: that’s what you focus on. It is also ideal for people who have difficulty with ordinary meditation or mindfulness, for example because they cannot focus properly.
Mindfulness is trying to put your focus on one thing. Music can help you do that by functioning as this ‘thing’. It can also help you create a deeper connection with music you already love or discover new music. In addition, music generally helps with anxiety and stress, as does mindfulness. So this is the ideal combination. By completely focusing on the music, you leave your worries behind for a moment.
Listening to music mindfully in four steps
- It doesn’t really matter which number you choose. You can choose one that you really like or one that you normally prefer not to listen to. Or choose a song you’ve never heard before. It can be nice to choose an instrumental piece so that you can really focus on the music, but music with lyrics is also an option.
- Take a moment to unwind. Also physically: be aware of your body and your surroundings, pay attention to your breathing. Also think about the song before you start it. What is your association with this song and with music in general.
- Listen. It’s really that simple. Do this with earphones or headphones so that you are not distracted by external stimuli. If it helps, you can close your eyes. See what strikes you about the music or lyrics and how it makes you feel, both mentally and physically. Can you feel the music in your body? Does a memory or feeling come up when hearing a specific text? Try to let the thought go right away and focus on the music again. You can also try to focus only on the melody or even one instrument.
- In hindsight it is good to reflect. Do you feel different? Maybe calmer or just the opposite. Was this number suitable or would you choose something else for next time? You can repeat the exercise immediately or later. Make choosing the number part of the exercise and do it consciously. For example, based on what you already know about the song, artist or genre.