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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Thomas

Mindfulness through Music

Hello and welcome back to the blog! It's been a busy start to the year for Thrive, but I'm excited to be back with another (unfortunately late) blog post! I hope you all had a lovely holiday break and that the new year has been going well for you. Today we're talking about Mindfulness through Music.

'Mindfulness' has been a buzz word for a long time now, with more and more resources flooding the market about how to be more mindful, and how mindfulness will be beneficial for you. I think it's really great that this is becoming more recognised and widely practiced as a helpful tool to engage with for your mental health. As I've talked about in previous blog posts, we all know that stress and anxiety are on the rise in our modern world and that taking care of your mental health is growing more and more important to counteract this. Mindfulness is an accessible and easy way for most people to slow down, reconnect with themselves and decrease the effect of stress in their lives.

The Oxford dictionary defines mindfulness as one of two things:

  1. "The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something or

  2. "A mental state achieved by focussing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique"

Basically put, this means that mindfulness is where we focus on the present moment and what's happening for us right now. A lot of the anxiety and stress in our lives seems to come from the gap between our perceived vision of what our life should be like and how things should go and the reality of our situations. When these two versions of events do not match up, we can experience negative feelings of stress and anxiety about how to change things.

So where does music come into it? Music is a powerful tool that has been used for centuries to evoke emotions and connect people. It has been shown to be effective in improving mood, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting relaxation. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the use of music therapy as a tool for mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness practices can be challenging for many individuals, especially those who struggle with anxiety or have difficulty quieting their minds. Music therapy can be a useful tool in facilitating mindfulness practices by providing a focal point for attention and creating a relaxing atmosphere. One way that music therapy can be used in mindfulness practices is through guided meditations. During a guided meditation, a music therapist will play music while leading the individual through a series of relaxation and visualization exercises. The music serves as a focal point for the individual's attention, allowing them to quiet their mind and enter a state of deep relaxation. The therapist may also use specific types of music, such as nature sounds or calming instrumental music, to create a specific atmosphere and enhance the individual's relaxation experience.

Another way that music therapy can be used in mindfulness practices is through improvisational music-making. Improvisational music-making involves creating music spontaneously, without pre-planning or structure. It allows individuals to express themselves creatively while also being present in the moment. Improvisational music-making can be a powerful tool for individuals who struggle with traditional mindfulness practices, as it provides a more active and engaging experience.

Research has shown that music therapy can be an effective tool for promoting mindfulness and reducing stress and anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Music Therapy found that music-assisted mindfulness meditation was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in adults. Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that a mindfulness-based music therapy program was effective in reducing stress and improving mood in individuals with fibromyalgia.

From these few examples, we can see that music therapy is a powerful tool that can be used in mindfulness practices to promote relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being. Whether through guided meditations or improvisational music-making, music therapy can provide a unique and engaging experience for individuals looking to incorporate mindfulness practices into their daily lives.

So, how will you use music in your mindful practices going forward? Maybe you'll select a particular track you find relaxing to have on in the background while you meditate, or maybe you'll engage in deep music listening to quiet your mind. Whatever you decide to do, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you'll join us next time for another blog post. As always, feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments or get in touch via email if you'd like. Until next time!


To learn more:

  • Chanda, M. L., & Levitin, D. J. (2013). The neurochemistry of music. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(4), 179-193. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.02.007

  • Lee, J. Y., & Kim, J. (2018). Effect of music-assisted mindfulness meditation on the anxiety and depression of adult cancer patients: A randomized controlled pilot study. Journal of Music Therapy, 55(3), 297-316. doi: 10.1093/jmt/thy008

  • Lepage, C., & Thaut, M. H. (2007). The use of music in therapy for the treatment of mental disorders. Music and Medicine, 1(1), 23-28.

  • Magee, W. L., & Davidson, J. W. (2019). Mindfulness-based music therapy. In S. L. Brooke & C. A. Miraglia (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Music and the Brain (pp. 766-781). Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198804123.013.45

  • Shaffer, R. E. (2017). Music therapy: An introduction (4th ed.). Waveland Press.


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