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Music, Mindfulness, Melancholy, and You

Do you want to be a musician? Are you envious of the lucky impervious few who find themselves seated behind a choice instrument and express themselves beauty? Do you find your mind plagued by crippling self-doubt in the face of attempting to learn? Do you struggle to muster hope in a future where you develop proficiency and mastery in something you care about?

Depression can be an all-enveloping scourge upon creativity, personal hygiene, and life itself. While in the throes of a severe depressive episode, even the simplest of daily activities can fall to the wayside and feel completely out of reach. So if you are suffering under the indignities of depression, one might find it unrealistic when I recommend utilizing the power of musical expression to motivate and guide one’s recovery, but if you are passionate about music (as a listener or a performer), I ask that you keep an open mind. 

Music fosters mindfulness.

music mindfulness

Music has a spectacular effect in fostering mindfulness in its performer. Just as drawing is the decoration of a page or canvas, and just as writing is the decoration of the mind’s eye, music is the decoration of time itself. In my experience, nothing has been a more powerful reminder of one’s existence in the present moment than striving to make the present moment more beautiful. Setting aside even just five minutes each day to practice whatever instrument calls out to your inner sense of value (whether that’s voice, piano, or kazoo) can be a powerful and meaningful addition to the routine of anyone suffering from a dissociative mental illness such as anxiety or depression. Even if committing to just this bare minimum of five minutes each day, after a year, you’d have over thirty hours of musical experience, and as a result you’d be undergoing a far more meaningful transformation.

Music encourages pride and mastery.

Even more powerful than the effect of performing music on promoting a peaceful mental state is music’s ability to encourage pride and mastery in the one performing it. When coping with the debilitating self-doubt of depression, nothing can prove one’s intrusive thoughts wrong quite like the pursuance of a long-held passion. As human beings, all of us find comfort and meaning from the music we listen to in one way or another. We put on a pedestal the few of us who choose to dedicate themselves to the craft of music. So what if, in our own way, we put ourselves on such a pedestal by dedicating a piece of ourselves to showcasing the beauty of our own interior? You may not end up on the cover of Rolling Stone, but you might make a loved one cry happy tears to see the side of you that they always knew laid within you, or inspire a treasured friend to pick up the craft themselves and share their interior beauty with you in kind. 

Music encourages natural healing.

music mindfulness

Not only does performing music promote peace and pride, but it also encourages natural healing by facilitating shifts in our brain waves. With a stable, rhythmic frequency, our brainwaves can go from beta (waking consciousness) to alpha (relaxed consciousness) to theta (a meditative state) and sometimes even delta (sleep). When our bodies feel off-balance  and out of tune, music can bring us back to center. Listening to music and performing it are both equally as healing. These frequencies can help you heal your anxiety and depression: 853hz, 639hz, 396hz, and 528hz.   

I didn’t always identify as a musician. Few of us are born with an innate mastery of anything, much less something as complex and beautiful as performing music. But music called out to me nonetheless, even in the deepest darkness of my loudest depression. I started learning eight years ago, and I still learn something each time I raise my voice in song, pick up an instrument, or teach a new student the latent song that waits within them. There is an intense and visceral reaction to seeing yourself grow to be the type of person you want to be. So I ask you again: 

Do you want to be a musician?

 

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Sunny Ebsary is a writer and singer-songwriter from Tampa, FL. When he’s not sing-songwriting or just regular writing, he’s probably drinking water with a lot of ice, having a staring contest with his cat, or giving people great ideas. You can listen to Sunny’s music here.

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