Wake Up To Music

Alarm Clock 3
Photo: “Alarm Clock 3.” Alan Cleaver. Flickr Creative Commons.

Today I woke up to the sound of music. I’m not talking about Julie Andrews in Austria. I’m talking about my alarm. It wasn’t a terrible beeping, though. I hate those types of alarms. They scare me out of bed and put me into a panic. I would always be waking up thinking I was late. My morning monologue was something like “holy crap”, “this sucks”, “why me?”. I would feel resentful and annoyed. It wasn’t until I started waking up to more peaceful kinds of music that I noticed how that was really affecting me. Those blaring alarms were actually affecting the way I experienced my entire day. I would see class as a chore and a burden. I would feel rushed to the point where I would either physically speed around to get myself ready, out the door, and to wherever I needed to be, or I would become insufferably slow, as though I was at a silent protest against the morning.

So I changed my routine. What a relief! It’s way better, trust me. Music soothes me awake, just as it used to soothe me to sleep. Though, I guess it depends on the kind of music you choose to wake up to. Hold on, people, we’re about to take a step into the world of science (and by science, I mean YouTube). Click here (don’t listen to the whole thing)—>>>>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym8JjY4fy-M .

Welcome back. So, that was kind of nice, huh? That’s the kind of soothing I’m talking about. That can get me through the day. It sets the pace for me. Okay, let’s imagine how music is used in film. Without music, some of the most terrible, scary movies would be only mildly frightening and even humorous in some cases. The music in suspense/horror flicks is intended to affect my breathing, heart rate and ultimately my emotional response. It causes me to react with fear.

Where am I going with this? Good question… What I’m getting at is this: how can we become more aware of our emotions? Better yet, will becoming more aware of our emotions allow us to practice a certain level of control over them? For example, I like being happy, content and excited over being angry, afraid or sad. Knowing that, what is one way I can set myself up to experience more of the emotions that I prefer to experience?

If I want to feel happiness, I can listen to some Sara Bareilles or Jason Mraz. If I want to feel calm and motivated, I listen to some classical guitar music. That’s just me. But seriously, there are physical and emotional responses to musical stimuli. If you’re interested in exploring the topic in greater depth, do some research into music psychology and mood regulation. Check out some books from the library, listen to music, make music, share music and study music. And visit my favorite source of science… YouTube! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grsyT0erx6E

Start your day off right. Get your heart beating to the rhythm of your choice. Your emotional wellbeing is important and it could affect others as well, and may ultimately have an impact on the Carolina community. So, be conscious, deliberate, and systematic in your music choices.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” -Billy Joel

Jazz Band
Photo: “Jazz Band.” Kevin Dooley.

Food For The Soul

I’d like to share with you my experience with prayer. Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my perspective.

Every so often I have a lazy day off during which I kick back and neglect all my responsibilities. The day usually consists of watching TV shows, playing a game, eating some food, playing my guitar, etc. I move from distraction to distraction, the whole time with an empty feeling nagging at me. I feel like something is missing, so I look around for something to fill the emptiness. Eventually I realize that all these physical distractions are just not cutting it. The solution for me is always a spiritual one.

I believe that humans are both material and spiritual beings. I believe that when our bodies die, our spirits continue to grow and progress. In my short life, I have come to the belief that our lives in this world are similar to the life of an embryo in the womb. An embryo  grows limbs and organs and prepares for life after birth. Similarly, we are growing spiritual qualities and faculties for life after death.

As an embryo, we were only marginally aware of the world beyond the womb. Luckily in the womb we do not have so many things distracting us from our process of growth. I often get distracted by the multitude of material pursuits available to me. I am consumed by a lifestyle of consumption. I forget that I am growing and preparing for life after death: the continued life of my soul. This is what happens to me on those lazy days off.

My solution to this lifestyle of consumption is the active pursuit of opportunities to develop myself spiritually. Through my actions at work, at home and in my studies, I strive to develop spiritual qualities like patience, forgiveness and generosity. I have found, however, that some of the most potent activities for developing myself spiritually are praying and meditating.

Prayer is like food for the spirit. It nourishes my spiritual appetites and rejuvenates me, giving me energy and awareness. Prayer is like a ladder for the soul, aiding me in my growth towards the Great Unknown. Prayer brings harmony back to my life and gives me direction. It is like a conversation between my spiritual self and the Celestial Being. It is a time when I can forget about my physical needs and feed my hungry soul. Prayer motivates me to bring my life in chorus with creation and to strive to fulfill more coherently, my goal of preparing for the continued life of my soul.

I’d like to share a prayer that is dear to me.

O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the mighty and the powerful.

I hope my experience is helpful to others. Please let us know about your experiences with prayer and meditation a join us by engaging in dialogue about spiritual health.