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Alan Watts on Music and Life

music life

Have you ever said this to yourself before?

“I’ll be happy when [this] happens.”

“I’ll be happy once I find the right girl/guy.”

“I’ll be fulfilled when ________.”

We’ve all done this. But here’s the thing: We’ve been programmed to do so.

We’re conditioned to think that salvation lies at the end of the rainbow. It’s a malicious deception that has us chasing that “something” our whole lives, yet never finding it. We believe that happiness awaits us tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. So most people spend their whole lives waiting for their lives to start.

Even when we get what we wanted, we don’t fully appreciate it, because our minds have been conditioned to constantly search for happiness somewhere in the future.

Here’s the secret: What we’re searching for is hidden in plain sight, in the here and now. This isn’t some woo-woo metaphorical rhetoric. It’s true and applicable RIGHT NOW. There’s a reason why the core teachings of almost every spiritual or self-help book is presence and mindfulness. It’s something that is absolutely crucial to understand and PRACTICE.

Take just a few moments to be fully present. Tune into the present moment, experience all of your senses (come to your senses), hold gratitude for where you’re at right now, and you’ll realize that this is what you’ve been searching for all along.

That’s the paradox. The happiness we think happens somewhere in the future when this or that happens has actually been with us all along, in the present moment.

You don’t listen to music just to hear the last note. You don’t eat a meal just for the last bite. You don’t just read the last page of a novel. You don’t just watch the climax of a movie. The process – the ups, downs, challenges and triumphs – is what makes everything beautiful, worthwhile and fun. The same goes for life.

Alan Watts brilliantly explains this concept in a lecture called “Music and Life.” The way he expresses this concept will shift your entire paradigm on life. Here’s the transcript:

Alan Watts

In music one doesn’t make the end of a composition the point of the composition. If that were so the best conductors would be those who played fastest, and there would be composers who wrote only finales. People would go to concerts just to hear one crashing chord; because that’s the end!

But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our every day conduct. We’ve got a system of schooling that gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded. And what we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of “come on kitty kitty kitty”, and now you go to kindergarten. And that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade, and then come on; first grade leads to second grade and so on, and then you get out of grade school. Now you’re going to go to high school, and it’s revving up – the thing is coming. Then you’ve got to go to college, and by Jove then you get into graduate school and when you’re through with graduate school you go out and join the World!

And then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming. It’s coming, it’s coming! That great thing, the success you’re working for. Then when you wake up one day at about 40 years old you say “My God! I’ve arrived! I’m there”. And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.

And there’s a slight let down because you feel there’s a hoax. And there was a hoax. A dreadful hoax. They made you miss everything. We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage which had a serious purpose at the end and the thing was to get to that end. Success or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and we were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.

Alan Watts – Music and Life

10 Profound Benefits of Listening to Classical Music

classical music notes written

I’ve been hanging out with a few old friends lately: Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, Bach, Chopin, Handel, Wagner and the rest of those OG’s.

Classical music has become a staple in my life. It’s a truly beautiful form of music that comes with a seemingly endless list of benefits which we can all reap. The first thing I do each morning is put on those harmonious, orchestra-driven melodies of classical music.

Why do I listen to classical music all of the time?

I like to call it “serenading the space.” Playing classical music instantly turns any room into a church of good vibes, a temple of celebration or your own tranquil sanctuary. Turn on some classical music and you’ll instantly experience this for yourself (if you haven’t already).

Classical music is the background music to my morning stretches, my writing routine and almost everything else I do. It weaves a fundamental layer of peace and harmony into the fabric of my life.

Now this is coming from a hip-hop head. Classical music was never really my thing. I don’t necessarily sit down and listen to it very intently either, but its benefits as background music are utterly unparalleled. Here’s why..

10 Profound Benefits of Listening to Classical Music

1. Increases Physical Performance

Classical music, especially fast-paced classical music, has been consistently shown to increase physical performance.

We’ve all experienced that extra push that music can give us when working out. It gets you to squeeze out that extra rep, or run that sprint a little bit faster. And I don’t know about you, but I feel like the hero of a movie whenever I exercise to some epic classical music.

Also, because it doesn’t have words, classical music allows you to focus more on what you’re doing, instead of focusing on the music. If I listen to hip-hop when working out, I get a surge of motivation, but I’ll be less mindful of the exercise I’m doing. But with classical music, I get a similar surge in motivation, but I’ll be completely mindful and more present when performing the exercise.

Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10573664

2. Increases Sleep Quality

Classical music calms the mind, and when the mind calms down, the body follows. Listening to classical music is greatly effective for people who suffer from insomnia and other sleeping disorders. The soothing effects of classical music are tremendously conducive to sleep.

The conclusion of one study (entitled “Music improves sleep quality in students”) reads “Relaxing classical music is an effective intervention in reducing sleeping problems. Nurses could use this safe, cheap and easy to learn method to treat insomnia.”

Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18426457

3. Eases Chronic Pain

Classical music has inherent healing properties and has been shown to reduce pain. Along with distracting people from the pain they experience, the relaxing and stress-reducing effects of classical music actually reduce pain as well.

Many hospitals have caught on to this and now play classical music because of its potent effects on pain reduction.

On top of easing chronic pain, classical music actually accelerates healing too. But whether it’s just the relaxing effects that stimulate healing, or if the sound vibration itself is healing, is up for debate. But the bottom line is that classical music reduces pain and helps the body heal. So drop the pain killers and put on some Mozart instead.

Sources:
http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0021-75572006000300006&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21704068

4. Improves Mood and Fights Depression

Classical music is well-known to boost mood, relax the mind and increase dopamine levels. Anyone can experience this too, just play some classical music and notice your mood shift for the better.

Classical music also has the same physiological effects as a massage, which is an impressive testament to how much music (frequency and vibration) really affects us.

The flipside of the coin of happiness is depression. So because classical music makes you feel good, depression naturally fades away, making classical music a powerful anti-depressant as well.

A large-scale example of classical music’s positive effects on mood is that it literally fights crime. Classical music is like a super hero and has been shown to reduce crime rates when played in public places.

Sources:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000689930400736X
http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/10/05/how_classical_music_can_reduce_crime_benefit_your_mood_and_increase_your_spending.htm

5. Lowers Stress Levels

Going hand-in-hand with its mood boosting properties, classical music notably reduces stress. This makes sense, of course, due to its relaxation and mood enhancing properties.

Classical music has been repeatedly shown to lower cortisol levels as well. Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone,” so it’s a way to tangibly measure stress responses in people.

Stress is an epidemic in modern society, so listening to classical music is a great way to fight back against the chronic stress we’re all faced with in our day-to-day lives.

How can you be stressed when you’re relaxed and happy? You can’t.

Sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1069901/Listening-classical-music-relieve-pregnancy-stress.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110826/

6. Boosts Brain Function

The positive effect of classical music on brain function is so well known that it’s referred to as the “The Mozart Effect.”

Here are some examples:
In 1996, the College Entrance Exam Board Service conducted a study of all students taking their SAT exams. Students who sang or played a musical instrument scored an average of 51 points higher on the verbal portion and 39 points higher on the math portion of the test.

In a controlled University of California study, students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart before taking SATs had higher scores than students who didn’t.

In a University of Washington study, people who listened to light classical music for 90 minutes while copyediting a manuscript caught 21% more mistakes.

7. Sharpens Memory

Being so beneficial for brain function in general, it’s no surprise that classical music improves memory as well.

Studies have shown that music enhances the memory of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. One of these was a UC Irvine study, which showed that scores on memory tests of Alzheimer’s patients improved when they listened to classical music.

There’s a slight caveat regarding classical music and memory though. In the 1960’s, a Bulgarian psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Georgi Lozanov found that different pieces of classical music were more beneficial to memory than others, depending on what stage of the learning process they were used. The learning process can be divided into three stages: relaxation, active learning and memory consolidation. Lozanov, after 30 years of experiments with music and memory, found that specific pieces of classical music yielded better results in these different stages of the learning process. Some pieces were better for relaxation, some were better for active learning and some were better for memory consolidation.

Sources:
http://www.rocketmemory.com/articles/music-and-studying/

8. Decreases Blood Pressure

Among classical music’s health benefits is that it decreases blood pressure. The tempos of music have a profound impact on both heart-rate and blood pressure. Slower, gentler music is relaxing, which slows the heart-rate and reduces blood pressure, while music with a faster tempo does the opposite.

Many pieces of classical music are also in sync with the body’s natural rhythms. For example, blood pressure rises and falls every ten seconds or so, which is a rhythm that many composers mirror in their works.

Another fun fact is that the second part of Beethoven’s famous Fifth Symphony is called the “music of a healthy heart” and it is especially recommended for high blood pressure.

Sources:
http://www.techtimes.com/articles/59065/20150610/your-heart-loves-music-operas-and-classical-music-can-lower-your-blood-pressure.htm

9. Enhances Creativity

Classical music is like a magical creativity catalyst. The good vibes put you in a clear, creative mood which acts as fertile ground for harvesting new ideas and insight. Combine this with enhanced cognitive function, being stress-free and relaxed, and you have a recipe for great creative work.

Classical music, because it doesn’t have words, doesn’t disrupt the creative process either. I personally get into much more of a flow state, especially when writing, when listening to music without words. Music with words tends to be distracting when doing any creative work.

10. Improves Productivity

Want to be more productive? Classical music helps with that as well. An often overlooked advantage of listening to classical music is that it can make monotonous tasks more tolerable. If you’re engaging in a repetitive task, classical music can “get you out of your head” and help pass the time in a more enjoyable fashion.

I personally would listen to classical music whenever I had to do a repetitive task at my job. It would transform an assignment, consisting of hours of manual data entry, from torturous to “this isn’t so bad” in a matter of seconds.

Lyric-less music aids productivity as well. According to studies from Cambridge Sound Management, intelligible words can force us to shift focus from our work to figuring out what someone is saying (that’s why it can disrupt creativity too). According to Cambridge’s 2008 study, speech distracts about 48% of office workers. So while classical music can boost productivity, other more-wordy genres of music may actually hinder it.

Sources:
http://cambridgesound.com/sound-masking-references/
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0003687072901019

Oh, and did I mention that listening to classical music instantly makes you well-cultured?

Classical music comes with a whole host of benefits that you can leverage to optimize your well-being. The composers were geniuses who could create audio medicine, gently speaking to our subconscious mind and harmonizing the totality of who we are.

So put on some Mozart and compose art. Play some Handel and handle your business. Bump some Bach and get “bach” to being happy.

Much love.

– Stevie P!

PS – I wrote this whole article while listening to classical music.

 

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Overcome Stagnation with This 3 Minute Trick

Sunset_Party_Dancing_Girl_Silhouette

I just spent the whole morning writing. And I definitely sat down for too long, so I was feeling stagnant and utterly uninspired. I wasn’t just physically stagnant, but mentally as well (they’re intimately interconnected).

You know that feeling, right? It’s that eye-rolling combination of being drained, dreary, exhausted and indecisive, with no mental capacity or motivation to do anything.

I knew that I had to do something about it. I needed to create a shift somehow or I would feel like a rusty wheelbarrow with a flat tire for the rest of the day.

So I did the following, and in about 3 minutes I felt anew and reinvigorated.

3 Minutes to Overcome Stagnation

Step 1) Put on a song you love – Play any song that makes you feel good.

Step 2) Take 10 deep breaths – Breathe deeply into your belly. Feel the energy flowing within. Remember this: Shallow breathing makes you feel like shit and deep breathing makes you feel awesome.

Step 3) Do some stretches, yoga poses or any mobility exercises – Do whatever comes to you, whatever your body feels like doing (listen to it). Just get your body moving, release built-up tension, get your blood pumping and your energy circulating. Break out of the rigid rigamortus. Open up and bring your body back its healthy, supple state.

If you’re a complete newbie to this stuff, try Elliott Hulse’s Bioenergizer Warmup.

Step 4) Dance – Feel the music. Let loose and let your body creatively express itself. This is cathartic physically, mentally and emotionally. Don’t underestimate the power of dance. A few minutes of dancing like you’re possessed by the music will shift your momentum for the rest of the day.

By the time the song’s over, you’ll feel like a new (wo)man.

This is a quick and simple strategy to help you overcome the inertia of stagnation and set your momentum in a positive direction.

From there, you’ll feel like you can do anything. After putting this technique to use, I had so much energy that I went right into an intense workout. It felt amazing.

Try out this technique the next time you’re feeling stagnant. It really works.

Life is movement. No movement, no life. Know movement, know life.

Keep flowing.

– Stevie P
 

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Shad

Today’s post is about music. Everybody knows music has the ability to instantaneously elevate moods. You not only hear music, but often FEEL IT on an intrinsic level.

So without further ado, I present you Shad aka the “Canadian rap sensation” (see “Yaa I Get It” below to “get it”).

You probably haven’t even heard of him, but “if you don’t know, now you know…”

Listening to Shad always puts a smile on my face. Wielding a masterful combination of technical rapping prowess, witty punchlines, uncanny wordplay,  positivity, music with a message, and relatable subject matter; Shad’s whole aura is a breathe of fresh (Canadian) air.

My favorite thing about Shad is that it always sounds like he’s smiling while rapping. A half-laughing, euphoric permasmirk. That kind of smile when you’re all giggly with infatuation around a newly intimate partner. Shad’s girl is hip-hop, and he’s having a grand ole time with her.

 

Some quotables from Shad (plus the songs they’re in):

  • “I’d rather live with these ups and downs than flat-line” -Wild
  • “Brainwashed, I’m still learning how to be me, worth millions, I’d rather be free” -Rock to It
  • “We’re breaking up, can’t hear what she’s saying but I get the tone” -Telephone
  • “I use to want to find the love of my life, now I’m trying to live a life of love, it’s not just a husband and wife” -Keep Shining
  • “You can’t be everything to everyone, so let me be anything to anyone” -Keep Shining
  • “If they treat you like a substitute teacher it’s probably because you’ve got no class” -Out of Love
  • “Know who the staff you roll with is, your staff can turn to snakes like Moses’ “-Now a Daze
  • “Ya’ll cowards couldn’t (w)rap this dope with a zig zag” -I Don’t Like To (now THAT’S a punchline)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He drops gems left and right. I’ll leave some for you to discover for yourself.

Must-watch videos: (Enjoy!)

Rose Garden (possibly my favorite video of all-time)

I Don’t Like To

Brother (Watching)

Yaa I Get It

And, in conclusion…

TSOL Outro (lyrics below, because it’s that good)

Lyrics:
“Yeah beautiful
Dangerous season the fall of youth
Souls wither like gold diggers we follow suit
The booth is starting to feel small
I should feel appalled
Instead I feel it all and can’t call it
My heroes have the heart to lose the life I wanna live
In the end I’m hoping that I take less than I give
We go through stages I ain’t talkin’ bout gigs
And I ain’t talkin bout famous when I talk about big
Prophetic poetics connect my life to my words
Some cause play-back pain right to the nerves
For me it’s hard to hear (that you’re hard of hearing)
Didn’t believe I was def till some checks started clearin
Now thats a different kind of clarity
And love for your brother
That’s a different kind of charity
Ya I rap fearlessly
But I act carelessly
When I’m busy on my grizzly
I’m a quarter bi-polar bear with me
The rarest breed
Naw I’m just a parakeet
I talk what I hear
I do as they do
And I hate what I fear you see
A simple animal sin is sincerity
But when I get carried away
You carry me, TSOL”

^Now that’s some put-a-smile-on-your-face kind of lyrical dexterity. And a good note to end on.

Keep shining.

-Stevie P

shad