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Image courtesy of connellymusic.com

Why Music Therapy Is The Mental Equalizer For Mood Swingers

Make a joyful noise!

I remember when the magnificent power of music became apparent. I was a sophomore in college, and my friend and I chose music appreciation as our elective for that semester, mainly because of how we assumed it would be an easy-breezy, somewhat boring ride, that would free us with more time for mayhem.

Shockingly enough, our predictions proved to very wrong when it came to the “boring” part, and while the classes were “easy” in terms of mandated output, we found ourselves wishing the hour-long sessions would stretch even longer.

My alma mater, University of Missouri-Kansas City is home of the renowned UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, and so as students we had access to the sprawling hall of an impressively opulent performing arts theater, that was wired to deliver the addictively hypnotic renderings of classical greats like Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Handel, Chopin, Tschaikovsky, and Schubert.

For me, the experience of reclining in cushy chairs while trying to accurately identify the textured styles of a genre of music that has been proven to contain healing properties was a welcoming intermission from the hustle and bustle of more aggressive lectures.

The weekly classes also reminded me of my childhood on Sunday mornings, when my parents would fill our house with the gloriousness of Handel’s Messiah just in time for my fixation on the moving clouds in the almost clear blue sky.

But more than that, aside from books, I found music to be the perfect respite from the inner and outer turmoils that plagued my disposition, especially after succumbing to the life-altering event that was terribly difficult for a nine-year-old to internalize.

Of course you never recover from the after-shock of being tampered with, and while my love for music was an immediate tendency that developed quite early, it evolved into the vitamin necessary for survival whenever I desperately craved a solitary status that didn’t make me feel alone.

Those qualities have remained the non-negotiable pact through adulthood. And when my suffering with erratic hormones and other health deficiencies stemming from the epic birthday that brutally introduced me to the forties club almost derailed my efforts, I definitely relied on my library of hits to elevate my mood from the blinding murkiness.

And now that I’ve settled into the routine that no longer requires mind-altering substances for dazed comfort, I can truly appreciate the gift of appreciating the countless track lists, featuring a healthy range that run the gamut, with each offering the right dose of relief for the particular ailment of the moment.

And as the years pile up, the nostalgic yearnings become even more palatable when you hear the stuff that takes you back to the time when you were young and moody enough to believe that bad times do last for long.

The intermixing of the old and new can be a full plate of delicacies that present the mappings to a cohesive thought pattern that breathes optimism in a hopeless place.

It’s been almost two years since I stopped accommodating the typical 9 to 5 schedule, and that has bequeathed the flexibility of planning out my morning hours in a privileged fashion.

Hitting the gym for that 30 minute cardio is a must and it goes beyond the physical advantages, which are also worthy of praise.

I quickly discovered how that ability to recharge both body and soul can manifest the level of consciousness that helps to stimulate brain centers responsible for creativity, and the boundless energy that makes those dreams come true.

And in this unbearable climate of dysfunction, that’s saturated with nonstop bombardment of offensiveness that can’t be avoided unless you run and hide in a cave, the avenue to undisturbed peace can only be garnered from the control of blaring headphones, spewing out the shuffle of gems that leave you breathless with passion and joy.

There’s nothing that compares to the purposed stride on the treadmill, as you’re transported to The Cure, Radiohead, Kate Bush, Michael Jackson, ABBA, with the interjection of Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Depeche Mode, and the soulfulness of Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Solange, preceded by the topper of Sade holding hands with Ari Lennox.

The oldies fill me with assuring bliss that despite the expansive of time, the person I was back in the day, is still present. And the newbies demonstrate how and why my youthfulness dictates how I select from the bunch under the tutelage of what will never escape my loyalty.

They say how you start your day lays the foundation for what will transpire based on statement of purpose and accomplishment, and there’s no doubt that working out and listening to music fumigates the debris from those tumultous nights of disarray.

One of the debilitating symptoms of perimenopause is insomnia.

There are no adequate words to describe the sweaty restlessness that forces you to wish for those days of drunkenness when you would return home in a blur, and fall on your bed fully-clothed without stirring until the sunlight slaps your cheeks.

The only thing to do after watching back-to-back episodes of your latest obsession, is to continue checking Instagram for more updates about the folks who are luckier than you. Twitter isn’t far behind, as you stumble upon another newly-minted controversy and death announcement that will haunt the couple of hours of sleep you have left.

The Buddhist morning prayer that I recite before getting up is the reinforcement I need to convince myself that I’m not better off dead.

But it’s really the uphill trek to the gym that begins the de-clogging process, and prepares for the accompanying indoor rejuvenation.

And while curating the editorial pieces that were borne from the morning ritual, I apply the personalized radio stations on Pandora as the sturdy anchor that keeps my attentiveness activated with the delightful surprise of restorative inspiration.

It’s no surprise that the occupation of music therapy is gradually becoming the ideal choice for those considering a non-traditional approach to dealing with psychological disorders.

The objective of music therapists is to utilize the various means of musical expression as the tool of neutralization and recovery for patients who are overcome by the weightiness of emotional and physical terrorism.

I can readily attest that listening to music before falling asleep, which has became the only verified method of de-stressing to the point of calmness, absolutely reduces the likelihood of staying awake with interferences of doom hovering above.

And when it comes to conquering the frequent bouts of depression that can quickly escalate to death threats, I find myself relying on the trusted staples that miraculously lift me up as I visualize the alternate universe where my character is flourishing within reach.

Music therapy also plays a vital role for children and young adults who grapple with learning disabilities. And even premature babies who were exposed to music “had lower heart rates and different facial expressions.”

Pain management is also possible when enjoying your favorite tunes because of how you get carried away with fun memories that pop up when TLC blares out “Aint 2 Proud 2 Beg.”

That much-needed distraction from the burden of discomfort that bulldozes your functionality is the reason why music therapy can be the long-term option that enhances your existence.

Cancer patients also reap the rewards of using music as the crutch to get through the harrowing treatment itinerary, that usually involves chemotherapy and radiation, and the deadly side effects that increase anxiety, including the occurrence of depressive spells that can be alleviated once the sound of your favorite tunes come alive at your command.

Just like mental illness still carries the stigma strewn from the falsehood that it’s curable or instigated by preventive measures, music therapy remains under-appreciated and not fully indulged.

But thankfully there’s a movement in place to help rectify that mishap for the sake of future generations, who deserve to maximize their love for music beyond the brief interludes that can be extended to propel emotional and physical pleasures, that lead to the answers of why dying another day is crucial.

Making a joyful noise doesn’t have to be a forceful duty of the mind, but rather a promise that’s no longer hard to keep.

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