The sound of Mindfulness
Constantly rushing from one task to the next one, the quality of our work can suffer. Tasks are demanding and challenges are always on schedule and it is normal to start thinking on next week’s deadline before even reaching the first one. Workplace stress is on the rise as emails, in-office chat tools and social media constantly compete for our attention, often bleeding into hours when we used to have a break. Work can be itself stressful and when there is too much on our plate it is easy to simply lose focus. This is the reason why it can be especially helpful to bring a mindful attitude and mindfulness itself to our job, which can be the source of significant stress. As Russ Harris says “Mindfulness is attention training and neuroscience shows that this daily exercise can strengthen the areas of the brain involved in attention regulation. Multitasking is a pernicious myth that prevents us from getting our work done.” In fact, returning to the present moment again and again, by practicing mindfulness, can train ourselves to focus better. Moreover, if done it musically we can only add healing benefits to mindfulness. It’s a matter of fact that listening to music can bring enjoyable time to our life but it is not the only thing it can offer. In fact, some research suggests it might even make you healthier. According to the Journal Psychiatry too, music can help us bringing back in our life focus and serenity. Since music is made up of rhythm and harmony, which are present in our everyday lives, some more than others can bring us calmness. We usually don’t pay attention to it, but through mindfulness it is possible to improve our focus accepting how we respond mentally, physically and emotionally to different sound. Goal of this essay is noticing the importance that mindfulness exercises and music can have at work, in business life as well as in our everyday life.
A musical way of doing mindfulness
For today’s workplaces, supporting employee wellness is just as important as traditional professional development. Supporting the long-term mental health of our team can mean the difference between an engaged, collaborative and productive organization. Not that new that mindfulness can be useful to bring back focus and awareness to our life and specifically to the job place. The founding director of the Center for Mindfulness, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, says, “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.” An example of a mindfulness that can be helpful as activity at work includes these points:
- Recognize. Acknowledgement of what is happening, noting it in a calm and accepting manner.
- Accept. Allowing life to be just as it is, without trying in that moment to change it, and without wishing it were different somehow.
- Investigate. How it feels? Is it making you upset or happy?
- Non-Identification. Realizing that the sensations you are feeling make for a fleeting experience, one that will soon pass. It isn’t who you are.
Being aware. Becoming mindful. Fully present. A well-done mindfulness is indeed an amazing strategy to tackle anxiety and related problems. What if we combine to it another powerful tool as for instance music? In fact, music can be an important source of joy and entertainment, but more than that there are many other psychological benefits as well. Music can relax the mind, energize the body, and even help you cope better with pain. Probably there is no need to look for detailed studies or to have proved evidences to see the benefits of music. Everyone can already have found that listening to or creating music helps feeling better. Combining mindfulness or other meditation activities and music together – that already alone can bring so much calmness to our life – is possible to create a great wonderful combination for our health and well-being. The idea that music can influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviors is probably not that surprising.
Music Therapy is an established psychological clinical intervention that touches all aspects of the mind, body, brain and behavior. Music can provide a distraction for the mind, it can slow the rhythms of the body, and it can alter our mood, which in turn can influence behavior. The same Michigan State University Extension suggests these tricks to experience music and sounds mindfully:
- “Attend a live performance or concert and notice how easy or difficult it is to stay in the present moment. You might notice your mind is a wandering circus, or you might effortlessly be focused on the show. Just observe.
- Give yourself 5 minutes to toss on head phones, and choose 1 song to listen to that you know will relax you. Find a comfortable sitting or lying posture, close your eyes, and listen only to the song. Observe where your mind goes. If it wanders, that is normal. Gently welcome your attention back to the song you chose.
- Sit outside for five minutes, and notice the sounds. Is there traffic, feet hitting the pavement, birds? Do these different sounds stimulate tension or relaxation for you? Pay attention to the sounds, and your reactions.
- Listen to silence. When you’re alone in the car at a traffic light, or before you head inside to your next meeting, or maybe you find a park, take one minute to sit in silence. Notice what you notice.
- Explore new music. There may be rhythms, beats and lyrics out there waiting to connect with you.” (M. Millett, 2017).
Consider taking a break in a normal, stressful, day at work. Instead of being on the phone checking last messages, the goal is to only to be, here and now. You and the sounds you choose. Focusing. Reconnecting. Feeling. How does it sound?
When there is simply a lot to do and to manage, our focus may be most likely at stake, at work as in our private life. In these situation mindfulness can help in bringing it back and its goal is in fact to pay close attention to the physical sensations of a particular moment, thoughts and emotions in order to see them more clearly. Nowadays there is a validated practice that focuses on stress reduction, cultivating concentration and developing serenity and increasingly more researches demonstrate the measurable effects of mindfulness on the body and brain. It might sound an abstract concept, but mindfulness is on the rise in the business world indeed already. In addition to it, there is no doubt that music can be powerful as well and have strong healing benefits, this is the reason why many meditation techniques combine mindfulness and music together. Music alone can have deep effects on our general well-being. Researchers have found that it can affect the psychological wellness too relieving pain, reducing depression and anxiety. For this reason, music therapy as well as mindfulness is often used as a strategy to treat a variety of physical, emotional, cognitive, and social problems.
- A. Morin, 2022. A Verywell Report: Music Helped Most of Us Get Through the Pandemic. https://www.verywellmind.com/verywell-report-music-helped-us-through-the-pandemic-5181803. Read on 02.05.2022.
- Nelson Oly Ndubisi, 2012. Mindfulness, quality and reliability in small and large firms. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/02656711211245683/full/html?utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Expert_Briefings_TrendMD_1. Read on 02.05.2022.
- E. Scott, 2020. How Music Can Be Therapeutic. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-and-why-music-therapy-is-effective-3145190. Read on 02.05.2022.
- M. Millet, 2017. Music’s role in mindfulness. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/musics_role_in_mindfulness. Read on 03.05.2022.
- Mindful Staff, 2017. Jon Kabat-Zinn: Defining Mindfulness. https://www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/. Read on 03.05.2022.
- D. Harris, Ten percent happier. https://www.tenpercent.com/. Read on 03.05.2022.