My Friend Breathes Music

being in the presentDo you have this superpower? My friend is a social worker with a difficult job working on the inpatient unit of a mental health hospital. She has a forty-minute commute to work each day.

I was talking with her about an audiobook I was listening to while driving to my office one day. She seemed surprised that anyone would listen to a book while riding in the car. Her commentary was, “Music is like breathing for me. It’s life!”

That statement would not be so incredible if it were not for the fact that I could literally feel the joy emanating from her as she spoke those words. It was like happiness was dancing in her eyes, putting on a full Broadway production instead of the usual little sparkle that hints at joy.

She told me of some of the difficulties she faces at work and the way the music lifts her up, preparing her mind to embrace what good she can find during each workday. At least, that’s what I reflected back to her as I tried to practice good listening skills.

She corrected me by noting I had missed the point. “You’re close, James, but it’s a little deeper than that. I don’t use music as a tool to change my mental state. I become one with the music. I am the music. It’s my security and it’s my power.”

She went on to describe the way she rides the rhythms and the vibration of the music, experiencing it as a form of harmony or oneness. She explained how she rides that wave of power, security, and energy through the difficult interactions she faces during the course of each workday. All she has to do is let the fresh memory of the music play in her mind.

As I listened to her speak, I realized I understood what she was talking about. I recognized the experience she was struggling to put into words. It’s not something that can be spoken about easily because it has to do with subtle changes in your consciousness and your perspective.

Pondering this conversation later, I realized I had a few experiences of briefly working with a few clients that seemed to have the same relationship with music. It may not be a coincidence that my interaction with those clients was very brief. While they leveraged my skill set to their advantage, they already had the significant advantage that comes with the ability to breathe music.

Here’s the advantage as I see it. Fresh off the high of letting music flow through you, every cell of your body is vibrating with positive energy that comes from joy. Not only that, but you experience a sort of confidence that comes from less self-consciousness. It’s like the music expands your awareness and puts you in a “flow state” in which practical outcomes seem less important (and therefore less intimidating).

Imagine arriving on the scene of a date, having just allowed the music to flow through you in this way. Imagine you had embraced the music and tried to feel the vibration of the music as it moved through your body during your ride.

Now contrast that with the opposite scenario. You’re driving your car on the way to your date. You’re rehearsing what you’ll say as you walk up to him. You’re paying attention to the feeling of worry in the pit of your stomach, anxiously anticipating his reaction to you and your reaction to him.

This second scenario just isn’t as good. One of the concepts I discuss in my training materials is the importance of embracing the present as you interact with people. Music is experienced in the present. Your mind does not skip ahead to the next part of the song while you listen to it. As result, it naturally draws us back into the present moment.

being in the presentI share these thoughts with you in case they have some use to you as you reach for ways to bring out the best in yourself. Through the process of trial and error, I hope you will find several different ways to bring your mind more fully into the present moment while embracing the dating process as it unfolds.

James


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24 thoughts on “My Friend Breathes Music

  1. Alex B. said:

    I too am one of those people. Music is my breath, all day and well into the night. It saved me after the death of my husband at 46 and that was less than a year ago. The PTSD that I have from trying desperately to save him has been tempered somewhat with music. Interestingly, I told my therapist that I woke up one day insisting I needed to learn to play the drums. I have done that, or should say I’m doing that. I created a music studio in my house and my children and I do not turn on the TV. We simply listen to music all day. It is the present and my present would be very sad without it. I loved your friends description of music because as a multi instumentalist, I can appreciate all aspects including being a vocalist. All genres are represented in my studio although there are some I prefer more than others. Thank you James for this. It’s a great story and rings true for so many of us it seems.

    • James Bauer said:

      That’s a beautiful way to respond to emotional pain, Alex. Thanks for sharing this.

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