Why Music Nourishes the Soul

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I love music. The world loves music. When at it’s best it makes us feel any plethora of emotions. It can make us cry, make us laugh, remind us of an event or help us imagine a fantasy. Music cuts into our emotions like little else. So why do we love it so much? And why is it so important to humanity?

Much of our society has an issue with shutting out feelings. Men especially, tend to aim for a stiff upper lip and a laddish persona in the face of tragedy, sadness and disappointment. But, music is a way to dial in to the shut out emotional side. Due to the cultural standards of what is ‘expected’ of us, we are sometimes forced to just get on with life and neglect our issues that should not be neglected. Music allows us, in part, to have this difficult conversation. To sit and think, with a voice in the ear, about our lives, about a situation, about what is bothering us. We can be sensitive, feel our sadness and welcome it in, without the judgement of society beckoning us to be strong and resilient to every single situation we face.

In counselling I learnt that it is ok to wallow in your grief, as long as you find ‘the middle ground’. Obviously, it is inadvisable to relinquish all of your strength and live in your feelings of sadness consistently, for long periods of time. However it is arguably equally bad to block them out altogether and never face up to them. Giving yourself time to think and understand when you are going through some hardship is perfectly fine. Blocking it out is metaphorically sweeping it under a rug. Sooner or later it will reappear in a colossal heap that has accumulated over your time of forcing it away. Soundtracking these times of wallowing makes it so much easier to tap into them. Have a song that reminds you of a departed loved one? You have two options; never listen to it again pretending it doesn’t make you feel anything and never letting it, or let yourself feel the emotions that it channels in you, that helps you access that loved one.

Music doesn’t just aid us in finding grief when we need to feel it and understanding our emotions. It also pulls us out from the opposite side of the spectrum. Imagine a party without music, a football match without chants. What did chained slaves do for their only ounce of pleasure at work? Sing. Music can uplift like nothing else. It can pull you out of a hole of anxiety and self doubt and build you into a giant. If I’m feeling low about myself and my habits, I’ll watch a film like Southpaw. As an artistic format, the film enriches my emotions as well, but it is the soundtrack that drags me up from my worries and gets me out jogging, gyming or living.

Creativity of all forms; music, films, books- artwork if that’s what you’re into, really do act as a catalyst for emotional stimulation like nothing else. Sure, they can’t do everything for us; cure depression, get us through the grieving process, but, they can act as a great enhancer to get us on the way.

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