1 Year Mindfulness Challenge

A Year of Mindfulness – 23 – Music

music
Photo by Mpumelelo Macu on Unsplash

Here it is. The DREAM task. Week 23 – the best week of the challenge so far!

I am not exaggerating when I say I live for music. It is such an integral part of my life, and when I pulled this task from the jar, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot! Play a song every day and enjoy listening to it? Wow, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in!

This week was all about mindful listening and the aim was to listen to at least one piece of music mindfully each day. I should choose a piece of music I’ve never heard before, sit quietly and pay attention to the sounds. I should consider the song or piece, even if I felt I didn’t like it, and I should let myself experience the sound waves coming my way, appreciating different instruments and listening without judgement. Sounds perfect!

Now, like with many tasks in this challenge, I completely bent the rules and made this task my own. Instead of listening to music I’d never heard before, I decided to listen to whatever song happened to come to my head each day, so obviously these were songs that I already know. I will do this specific task again I think, but next time actually stick to the rules, as I found it incredibly therapeutic.

Monday

Now We Are Free by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard

You might recognise it from the legendary film Gladiator. This was a lovely one to play on Monday, it made me feel relaxed, content and hopeful for the week ahead. I really love this song, it’s quite awe-inspiring so the perfect song to play on a dreary Monday. I sat and listened, trying my best to do so without judgement but my mind started to wonder whilst I tried to figure out what language she’s singing in. I ended up spending about an hour afterwards trying to figure it out. If anybody is interested, she is singing in Glossolalia, meaning she created her own language for the song. How cool is that?! Well – I say a language – it’s not so much a language but more the lyrics are composed of various elements from various other languages (there has been mention of Andalucian and Hebrew amongst others). It is a truly beautiful, emotive song and makes me think of blue skies and oceans. Give it a listen!

Tuesday

Porcelain by Moby

Moby is one of those artists that I feel many people connect to on a soul level. He is the ultimate chillout artist (minus my beloved Enya of course!). Porcelain is a song I always find quite dreamy and relaxing, and I lay on the floor next to my dog and listened to this one with my eyes closed on Tuesday evening. I was tired from work and found myself listening and envisaging myself on a beach with my hair and flowery dress flowing behind me, or walking through a green oasis or field filled with wildflowers. This felt a little bit like a meditation or visualisation exercise, but I really enjoyed the effects the song had on me. Clearly shows what I’m dreaming of during lockdown, doesn’t it?!

Wednesday

Sit Down by James

I know I was supposed to listen to songs without judgement, yet here I am over here picking all of my favourites! I know I was supposed to listen objectively, however, I can’t help but get excited and want to jump about when this plays. There’s so many songs by James that I love, but I’ll never forget dancing to this song at my wedding. The entire room lowered to the ground and became quiet in that unforgettable part of the song where everything quietens, before jumping up collectively as the entire room burst with life screaming “Oh, sit down!” I laugh so much as I recall my wonderful friends trying to gather my white wedding dress around me so it didn’t touch the floor, and me not caring about anything other than sitting on the floor and jumping about to this song! Even just listening to it fills with excitement, joy and very happy memories!

Love by Lana Del Rey

Thinking about the wedding got me thinking about how important music was to our day. Every song was planned out meticulously. James and I are huge music lovers, and we share a love for certain artists – one of them being Lana Del Rey. Her song ‘love’ is about young love and the sense of being invincible that comes with it. James didn’t know what song I was walking down the aisle to, but we shared a mutual adoration of this song, and it was the perfect song to walk down to. Every time I listen to this song I get goosebumps, and I love reminiscing on the whole wedding experience. It’s a beautiful song, if you’ve never heard it, you should check it out!

Thursday

Always on My Mind by Pet Shop Boys 

I absolutely adore this song. I grew up listening to it, and I genuinely think it’s one of the best covers, but also songs in its own right that I’ve ever heard. Last year, when Brandon Flowers brought out Pet Shop Boys during the headline slot at Glastonbury (if you missed the absolutely mind-blowingly epic footage, you can see the performance here!), I felt like my head might explode. I was absolutely overjoyed. I listened without judgement and found myself wanting to move and dance about, but also filled with great joy. There’s so many different sounds within the song and such an epic intro, that I tried my best to lie calmly whilst listening but I just wanted to dance and sing.

Friday

Affection by Cigarettes after Sex

What a song! I lay down on the floor with my dog again for this one, and listened to it making sure to pay attention to the instruments, sounds and different parts. I felt like I should be in a dark room filled with haze and enigma, with a whisky on the rocks! I really want to see this band live and I hope to finally make it happen once gig venues start reopening. I made the most of the duration of the song to just enjoy each part of it, and the unique voice of the lead singer. I found this such a relaxing exercise and thought throughout this song how much I was enjoying the experience, and how I definitely need to make this challenge a regular thing.

Saturday

Spring 1 by Max Richter

OK. This song by Max Richter is honestly, one of the most stunningly beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. Max Richter recomposed Vivaldi’s four seasons and this is Spring 1. It’s quite difficult to find on Spotify, but you can click the link above to listen. Whenever I listen to this song, it evokes feelings of hope, blossomings, new beginnings and moving forwards. I sat and enjoyed listening to this from start to finish, as I always do, and I felt so relaxed and hopeful afterwards. If I can persuade you (even beg you) to listen to one song from this post, please let this one be it!

Sunday

On Morecambe Bay by Christy Moore

Christy Moore really lends himself to this task as his songs are very much ones that you sit and listen to, eyes closed, and devour. This one was one of the first songs of his that I ever heard, and it reduced me to tears. Even when I listened to it for this challenge, I found myself filled with tears and I’ve heard it hundreds of times. If you’ve never heard of Christy Moore, he’s an Irish folk singer who tells stories through his songs. His songs are predominantly about real-life events and I’ve learned a lot about the world through his music. His songs convey and evoke every emotion on the scale ranging from joyful and catchy, to chilling and poignant. My dad and I have been going to his concerts for years, it has become an annual tradition and we alternate between seeing him at the Liverpool Philharmonic, or Manchester Bridgewater Hall. It is one of the highlights of my year each year. If you’ve never had the fortune of attending a Christy Moore gig, I strongly recommend doing so as I’m expecting he’ll stop touring soon enough, he is quite old afterall. You’ll have to be quick though, he sells out every gig! But do it – I guarantee, he will take your breath away.

There are not enough days in the week, month or even year to skim the surface of my absolute favourite songs in the world. This task turned into gathering 7 songs that popped into my head each day this week, and so it’s a bit of a mixed bag! But I absolutely loved doing this challenge and will definitely be repeating, and I also fully recommend it! Even if you don’t want to do this task as it should be done, do it like I did! Set aside 5 minutes a day (and most songs won’t even take that long!), sit or lie down and close your eyes, and just listen. I found it cathartic and I suppose it has the same effects meditation would if I could figure out how to benefit from that.

Give me music meditation any day!

See you next week!

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