Have you ever heard someone talk about how music saved their life? This could be through playing music, writing it, listening to it… at the loudest volume possible so you can literally feel it. Going to live shows can be so cathartic, literally feeling the music on your skin… wow. I’ve definitely talked to people that have described music as something that saved their life, something that has been incredibly powerful… something that helped them to feel as though they weren’t alone, weren’t “too crazy”… and that they were OK being themselves.

Do you find music to be healing? I have personally experienced music to be an incredible source of healing and I’ve spoken with others who feel the same. Music can, sometimes, connect with something inside of us that is beyond words. I don’t think it’s the only answer (I’m also not a fan of 1 thing being the solution for everything… likely takes lots of different things), but it can definitely be a part of the intricate puzzle of healing for lots of people.

I recently saw a talk with Bessel van der Kolk (you know him, he wrote The Body Keeps the Score… pretty smart dude) and he mentioned how playing music with a group of people can be incredibly healing. Being in tune with other human beings and connecting on that level can be so powerful. There are also books that mention this topic, like Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks (he’s a neurologist that wrote Awakenings), who details stories of how music has impacted the lives of many people. Also, Alive Inside, a documentary about how music impacts individuals with Alzheimer’s. If you haven’t heard of this, I definitely encourage you to just watch the trailer on you tube… it’s truly amazing to see how some of these people’s faces light up when you can see that they’re able to connect with music that touched them so much when they were younger.

Music can be this amazing way that we allows us to feel less alone because we can connect with the emotion of the artist. Sometimes music can be there for us when other’s aren’t… listening to some of those lyrics can feel like the writer looked straight into us and knew exactly what we were thinking… that secret thought, our fears and insecurities. Music can allow us to connect with others too… seeing a live show with a group of people can sometimes make us feel less alone. Even if we don’t talk to anyone else there, it can be really cool to just experience that show with others… something that will literally never be replicated again (even if they play the same songs, it won’t be exactly the same).

Then, there’s music documentaries… there’s so many good ones out there! I just saw the Joan Jett documentary, Bad Reputation, which was pretty good. Other ones that are jumping into my brain right now: What happened Miss Simone (Nina Simone), The Devil and Daniel Johnstone, A Band Called Death, The Punk Rock Singer, Searching for Sugar Man, Devil at the Crossroads… there’s so many. I’ve been wanting to see something on Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen (I know there’s I’m your Man, and there’s that new one coming out… so we’ll see). OK, I know there’s a ton more than that, those are just what come to my mind right now.
OK, I know this isn’t a music review, I’m the last person for that… I don’t have the knowledge or experience. I guess what I take from the list above is that all of these people worked through some really tough shit! They felt alone and were trying out new stuff at a time when other’s weren’t… and that can be incredibly challenging. It can be hard to try something new and follow your heart when no one else is doing what you’re doing… when everyone is telling you that what you’re doing is wrong, or weird. Being creative and being different can be incredibly lonely… and when you take the courage to reach out you can connect with people on such a deep level. It’s not easy… but it can be so fulfilling.

Sometimes the things that are the hardest for us to do can be the most rewarding. Has that ever happened for you? Doing that thing that you’re the most afraid of… actually getting out there and doing it can give you that sense of accomplishment… being able to say “I thought I could never do that!”… that’s powerful stuff.

Does any of this ring true for anyone? What are some musicians that have changed your life? Maybe there’s a different artform that has impacted you, what’s that? Maybe your the artist that is impacting others?

OK, now comes the homework… if you have a passion, try and do something this week that gets you closer to it. For example, if you love playing music, make sure you practice at least once this week. If you love listening to music, make some time to listen to some of your favorite songs… put them on full blast and scream-sing with the music pretending you sound good (well, maybe that’s just me… maybe you actually do sound good). If you love to cook, find that awesome recipe and make something yummy for yourself. If you love to draw or paint, make some time to feed that part of yourself. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about… investigate different things… spend some time trying to find what it is that makes you happy. Don’t judge this. I know that sounds like a big task, but just start that investigation without putting pressure on yourself to find what others may think you should like or need to like… no pressure to know the answers now, just start the process. It’s so important for us to do something nice for ourselves… every day if we can. I know this is hard, but we’re no use to anyone if we don’t feed ourselves.

In reviewing this, it seems a bit all over the place, but I think I’m going to leave it as is. It kinda reflects the rollercoaster ride that we all can go on… and music can be such an important part of that… guide, reflection, or instigator… whatever it means for you at that exact moment. Thanks for reading!

If you want to talk about trying to find something that works for you to get through some difficult times, go to my website http://counseling-4u.com or give me a call at 512-553-2054 for a free 15 minute phone consultation and we can see if it feels like a good match to set up an appointment.

Author's Bio: 

Hello! My name is Nicole Warren and I’m the owner of Counseling for You located in Austin, TX. I help people struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma and burnout. I pretty much always wanted to work in this area and have been particularly drawn to understanding (or trying to understand) how all of us humans work. I’ve studied a few things related to humans, and got my Masters in Counseling in 2005 and have been licensed since 2010. I’ve got a lot of experience working in crisis environments (i.e. crisis hotline, mobile crisis outreach team (MCOT), homeless shelters, and with first responders. I really enjoy working with helpers and those who are looking for help. I’ve lived in a few different places inside and outside the United States, which gave me some additional good perspectives about people and culture. My current licenses include: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) & Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). I’ve also got a few certifications and training’s under my belt too (i.e. Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), EMDR and more)… I will say this list is going to keep growing because I love learning about new tools that you can use to feel good again (or if you never did, to get you feeling good for the first time in your life!).