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Music Care Blog

  • Two Novel Ways to Use Music for Relief of Fear and Anxiety Tuesday May 05th, 2020

    Relax to music. Soundtrack your workout. Build a playlist around a mood. All good. How are they working for you? For your family and friends? Want some new ideas to help engage deeply with the best self-care tool of the last few thousand years? Here are two novel ways to use music for relief of fear and anxiety.


    Courage is an important result of relief from fear and anxiety, and we will get there, too. First, we’ll explore the mechanics of using music in a novel way as we connect music to fear. Then, we’ll use anxiety to discuss how to choose the “right” music. Finally, we’ll greet courage as a very welcome opportunity and a natural result of the work we’ve done with fear and anxiety.



    In our era, the old adage “sex sells” is rapidly succumbing to a new one: “fear sells.” The media get this and offer lots of opportunities for us to engage with fear – and with the advertisers paying for its promotion. How does anyone respond to that with power? Ignore it? Stiff-upper-lip it?


    Courage in the face of fear is different from ignoring fear. Music can boost our courage, sure, but first, we need to dig into what scares us to release the aspects of fear that shackle and immobilize us. Only then can we really be ready to engage courage.


    Don’t get all caught up in mindset-based thinking please; trying to think your way out of an unwanted emotion is psychological suicide.


    A Two-Step Intervention for Fear Using Music

    To prepare for that courage we all want, here’s a two-step intervention for fear using music:


    1. Find your fear song. From your shortlist of music you love most, choose the one song that’s scariest. Don’t have a scary song? Movies are a good place to search for scary music; the shower scene music from Psycho is a good one. So are the curated mood-based playlists on idagio – Classical music can free us in some ways from the need to depend on the words to understand the mood in the music. Spotify also has some offerings, such as the Music of Fear playlist.

    1. Feel it fully. With the one song you’ve chosen for fear, put on some headphones, set your music player to “repeat one,” find a comfortable, safe place to listen, and just be with that music in your ears for as long as it takes. Get good and scared – you’re safe and fear is just an emotion you’re allowing right now. Let all the stuff that frightens you appear in your mind, notice it, and invite the next scary thing to come up. Do this until your mind stops offering scary stuff or you just get tired.


    The evidence behind connecting an emotion to music is that the emotions process through us more quickly. Often, the processing itself can be energizing, even when the emotions are those we don’t like. If science isn’t your thing, rely on your own self-evident ...

  • Census 2020: Everybody Counts! Monday May 04th, 2020

    Will you help? If you know anyone who needs to respond to the 2020 Census, especially Veterans, please share!

  • After The Well of Grief Thursday April 09th, 2020

    After The Well of Grief*



    on the bottom

    of David’s Well



    frozen in this haunting prism

    of others’ glimmering wishes

    three small round coins tarnish my palm



    weight too heavy to carry up

    to light and breath

    back to a pretend belonging

    that isn’t mine


















    * Whyte, David: “The Well of Grief,” from “River Flow – New & Selected Poems, 1984 – 2007,” published by Many Rivers Press, 2007, copyright by David Whyte, 2007

  • The Two-Minute Treatment: Emotional Intelligence Sunday October 13th, 2019

    The Two-Minute Treatment series is for people who are too busy and need help now. As with all treatments, if you need to, please take time to research and evaluate before just jumping in. Otherwise, if you don’t need lots of footnotes and “science,” just go for it.


    Is it emotionally intelligent to stuff your emotions? If you’re using music to change your mood you’re missing the point. By the end of this short article, you will understand the actual superpower you’ve missed and how to access it.


    In The Mood?

    Let’s face it, we all get into moods we don’t like sometimes. And what do we do? We try to change them ASAP. That’s the natural human tendency, right?


    Not really.


    There’s a reason we’re in the mood, whatever it is: swing, blues, anxiety pop, poolside, or lounge. Brain science connects us to emotion in powerful ways that have kept us alive for millennia. But in the last few thousand years, we’ve somehow learned to short-circuit the emotions and moods we don’t like. We stuff them.


    Fortunately, psychology has come along to help us understand that stuffing big emotions isn’t healthy.


    So, let’s ask the question a little differently: is it a natural human tendency to stuff, suppress, or suppress big emotions?


    Answering “yes” may be why so many of us are un-doing emotional and psychological damage, and so many others are anger-vomiting as unresolved big emotion begins to leak out in the form of political, economic, racial, gender, and/or environmental issues,  or as non-clinical depression, distress, or anxiety (DDA).


    We know where “yes” has taken us. What if there was a real “no” option – one that suggests it’s not natural to stuff big emotions?


    Un-Stuff Your Emotions

    As useful as it is to have a practice that allows big emotions, if that practice can also release the unwanted energy of a lifetime of emotional stuffing, that would be better. Best? A practice that functions in those two ways plus offers more than remediation or intervention, such as a gateway to authentic human connection, or a bridge to spiritual insight. What practices do that?


    Lots of practices around big emotions. Which of them allow you to experience a big emotion fully, safely, and with the intentional release of unwanted energy, while retaining the positive energy in that emotion?


    Can you think of any popular practices that transform the “negative,” triggered emotional affect while leaving the positive power of the emotion available for you?


    Which of the popular big-emotion practices offer a gateway or a bridge from empathy and esteem to higher cognition, engagement with the healing power of aesthetics, self-actualization, or transcendence?


    Seriously. Let’s evaluate the answers honestly.


    It’s said that yoga prepares the body for meditation. Together, in that sense, yoga and meditation seem very holistic. It’s not clear, however, whether these practices also facilitate authentic, durable, sustainable human connection, but yogis are known for being enlightened human beings and often lead acolytes in humanitarian best practices.


    Can you think of other best practices that operate physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, plus offer benefits ...

  • What Are Silver Bullet Playlists and How They Work for Good Thursday October 10th, 2019

    You soundtrack your life. Maybe you’re making music regularly. You get the emotional connection between the music you love and the life you live. Maybe you even use music to intervene with moods you don’t want. But something’s missing. That something could be a silver bullet playlist.


    What’s a Silver Bullet Playlist?

    We’ve all got playlists. Sometimes they are hundreds of songs long. I know there are songs in some of my playlists that I haven’t heard in forever, thanks to the non-randomness of most music players “shuffle” feature, that plays some songs more than once while never playing the songs I haven’t heard in a while. Blurg.


    Silver bullet playlists are short: 4 songs tops, less than 20 minutes max.


    The songs you put on your silver bullet playlists are meant to be heard in order, like a short concert.


    Most importantly, silver bullet playlist songs are connected by the primary emotional content they all share.


    How Silver Bullet Playlists Work With Your Emotions

    A silver bullet playlist functions as a satisfying, complete experience of an emotion. Trust yourself: you want that. Why?


    • Instead of stuffing, suppressing, or repressing what we call “negative” emotions, a silver bullet playlist uses your built-in musical superpower to release the negative energy from the emotions you don’t want, returning you to a neutral emotional place where you can choose how to feel next.


    • Instead of reacting when triggered, using a silver bullet playlist that matches specific music you love with the triggered emotions gives you a recovery edge, like a shield that lets you feel fully without experiencing damage yourself, or breaking things and/or hurting people in the process. Who doesn’t want that?


    Those are just a couple of examples of the emotional intervention power of a silver bullet playlist. No emotional intelligence needed; the silver bullet playlist facilitates your built-in ability to release negative emotional energy and find relief.


    Let’s take a peek at how a silver bullet playlist can enhance your physical and mental superpowers.



    How Silver Bullet Playlists Work With Your Physical Superpowers

    One of your built-in superpowers is that you respond to sound and rhythm. Remember how it felt the last time you heard a jackhammer? Or waves crashing on the shore? Or your favorite love song? Your system responds to those audible cues in specific ways, and you can use that knowledge to amp up your performance physically as well as emotionally.


    Through a process called entrainment, our human systems come into alignment with sound and rhythm. This happens naturally. Doctors have used music to help Parkinson’s patients walk with ease – the music simply activates the superpower we all have to connect our feet to the beat, which is very useful for Parkinson’s patients, or anyone learning to walk.


    Athletes are living, breathing examples of entrainment as well. It’s a commonly accepted and research-backed fact that the right music can extend physical stamina, which is very useful for marathon runners. Your workout playlist probably gives you this insight every time you use it.


    So how would a silver bullet playlist change your physical ...

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