November 10, 2011
Work-Life Balance: Meditation & Music
A couple of recent articles in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. The first, "Feeling Transcendent in 10 Minutes or Less," reviewed "a wave of classes … culling down the ancient tradition of meditation into fast and easy-to-follow lessons…. The simple exercises are typically 10-minutes long and are easy to fit into a hectic schedule." I have been meditating on-and-off for about 20 years and am both convinced that developing a meditation practice can be very beneficial, and that one of the biggest obstacles to doing so is the belief that only 30-minutes sitting cross-legged in an incense-filled temple will suffice. If you don't believe me, just close your eyes right now, sit up straight in your chair, and count 10 inhalations/exhalations (i.e., "in ... out ... 1"). I'd be surprised if you didn't feel just a little bit better after. And because nothing goes together like meditation and shameless self-promotion, you can find my edited collection of my Zen instructer's dharma talks here, as well as an accompanying photobook here (none of the author's make a penny on any of these books, we offer them all at cost). I have found the photobook to be particularly soothing in and of itself.
The second article, entitled "Cranking Up Your Private Pep Rally," notes that:
Stirring music may trigger a beneficial hormone boost in the brain .... Studies over the past decade have shown music is associated with a shift in dopamine levels .... Dopamine ... not only makes us feel good, it also helps improve concentration, say experts. The timely arrival of a favorite song can help a person's task-oriented frontal cortex to fire more efficiently and aid performance, says Daniel J. Levitin, a psychology professor at McGill University ....
Again, I am a firm believer in the beneficial power of music. In fact, sometimes I'll go through stretches where I don't listen to music for whatever reason, and when I get back to it I am amazed that I ever let myself go without it. Keith Jarrett's "Koln Concert" got me through more assignments in college than I can count. And today, few things help me keep things in perspective and remember to enjoy my life than House Music. What's your musical fix?