In the present chaotic world full of diverse minds, there are two possible mental health problems that almost everyone can relate to – stress and anxiety. They can silently cast clouds over a bright mind, leading it to negative things. But in this busy world of scheduled office hours and heavy workloads, who is to blame anyway?
A study from the Harvard Medical School published in 2018 shows that the brain can’t function properly if not given time to relax. Stress and anxiety are results of a brain working restlessly and not taking even a bit of care. It hampers decision making and lessens work efficiency. So, the mind should be calm and functioning. But most people hardly have time for themselves. Still, here’s a trick to make that old earplug handy with a good tune as a calming agent for the mind.
For centuries, meditation has been one of the most popular and effective stress management strategies that bring instant physical and mental calmness. Regular meditation has proved to bring resilience towards stress and anxiety by experts. Likewise, music has many benefits for stress management and overall health. People have been using it for ages for entertainment or to take a break from the regularity of life. And music not only helps take the mind off troubles but also calms the senses and physiology of a person without making a conscious effort.
Md Salim Hossain, an assistant professor of psychology at Dhaka University, discusses the benefits of music meditation for the mind. He said, “When it’s mid-day and you are struggling with the anxiety that is hampering your working spirit, music meditation is a quick and easy way to channel out the negative energy. It creates an environment of peace and music along with meditation releases the' feel-good hormone', Dopamine. The first work of music here is to bring the brain waves in symphony and that helps the heart rate to sync and ensure a good blood circulation throughout the body.”
Music and meditation together can do wonders for the mind. Some consider meditation to be a long and time-consuming process. That’s not necessarily true. Practicing short-term meditations can also help calm the mind and start afresh. For beginners, music meditation may feel simpler and more instantly relaxing. It’s a stress relief technique anyone can use.
Professor Salim also suggests what and how to practice music meditation that is internationally followed by music therapists.
Choosing music that helps relax
It is necessary to find the right kind of music for relaxation. One must choose the music they enjoy listening to. The music should be of slow tempo and preferably without lyrics. Lyrics can be distracting and engage the conscious mind.
Finding a comfortable position
Firstly, the picture of a person sitting with crossed legs needs to be re-understood. This is one of many positions but only for those who are comfortable with it. Meditation can be done in any position with the back straight and relaxed. Lying down is avoided by some if they feel sleepy or are very tired.
After finding the right position, one must close their eyes and start to loosen the body, and let the muscles slowly relax. Breathing should be through the nose, gently spreading the belly rather than the chest, and exhale through the mouth.
Staying focused on the music
With music in the ears and regulated breathing, the body should be relaxed and calm by then. Concentration should be on the rhythm of the music and the present moment. It’s important to redirect the mind to the present moment if it gets distracted by the music.
This process should continue till the time runs out. The goal is to quieten the inner voice and just ‘be’. So, being with music and fully immersing in the process is what may make one feel mindful of the present moment.
Professor Salim also provided some tips to follow for beginners. He said, “It’s okay to start with a few songs and gradually go up to longer practices. Timing the practice with the number of songs is good time management.”
“If the music brings lots of thoughts, memories, and internal dialogue, it should be switched to another less distracting one. Choose something that evokes positive memories, not the complex ones.
“It is natural to get distracted while meditating and overthinking. If that happens, you must congratulate yourself for noticing the internal dialogue and gently redirect to the present moment.”
However, getting a vacation to refresh the mind and body from too much work is hard nowadays. In that case, trying out meditation with music could be a better option to manage stress and anxiety and give relaxation to the brain.
And that could save one not only time, but also the mind and body more importantly.
Tahseen Nower is currently studying mass communication & journalism at Dhaka University.