One morning at the beginning of the the year I was making my way to the underground station to get to work feeling really energetic and ready to make the day happen. I had read a really inspiring book the night before and had woken up that morning still with an incredibly motivated mindset. I went on Spotify and before I knew it the following lyrics had flooded my ears:
‘Same bed but it feels just a little bit bigger now
Our song on the radio but it don’t sound the same
When our friends talk about you, all it does is just tear me down
‘Cause my heart breaks a little when I hear your name’
I had suddenly felt like I have been transported back in time five years! This song reminded me of a particular person who I had been in a relationship with and we went through a difficult break up. Although a few years have passed and we are both happy and have moved on with our separate lives this song will always evoke a heavy feeling in me as it was a time in my life full of such deep emotion and feelings for him.
As the song was playing I caught my mood and noticed that I had lost my mojo a little bit. In fact, I had lost a lot of it all of a sudden! The mood of the song and the ones that followed it had put me in a bit of a funk. Oh, those bloody love ballads! *shakes fist at the sky in anger*
Welcome to my Monday morning Mr. Bruno Mars, but you weren’t invited.
Songs are stories which can be so relatable to each and everyone of us on an individual level depending on what we are going through at any time in our lives. They speak to us, sometimes it feels directly to our heart. Lyrics have the ability to pick you up and put you in a great mood, or they have the ability to put you down, with the words speaking to past memories of losing a loved one, a painful break-up or anger towards someone, and putting those emotions into the forefront of your mind. Furthermore, a song can transport us to a very specific moment in our past when we heard it, and depending if that was during a good or bad event in your life this unexpected audio time travel can be both a blessing and a curse to your current mood in the present.
True, sometimes we can listen to a song, sing the lyrics and at the same time not pay any attention to the words or their meanings and enjoy the track as a whole. Its kind of like when you were ten years old in the back of the car swaying along to the Spice Girls unknowingly singing at the top of your lungs about putting on condoms;
Be a little bit wiser baby, put it on, put it on, ‘Cause tonight is the night when two become one”
But on a serious note, a lot of songs can evoke deep meaning and memories from within us. It is important to be aware that although you aren’t directly engaging in conversation with someone, you are engaging with someone else’s story, and that may well be now distracting you from your own. Don’t underestimate the power and influence that someone elses words have over you, even when it has a great backbeat that makes you sit in your car bobbing your head to it like a nodding dog. Pay attention to where your mind wanders when you are listening to any music with lyrics – has it now drifted away from that protoype of a product you were planning in your head or that fitness business you always wanted to start up, to where you are now instead thinking about the last time you saw your relative before they passed away?
So with Bruno Mars now ringing in my ears as I am walking along I have become rather frustrated, in fact angry at how the words of someone else had now thrown me off of my thoughts and my positive morning vibe.
So I decided to cut them out and switched to instrumental music, and it changed everything.
No more words.
I discovered that listening to music with no lyrics is really effective in helping to bring in my focus, and also let my mind wander. It gives my mind the peace and mental space it needs to think. Any tracks which have calming and smooth instrumentals help me drift away in my thoughts, enabling me to tap into the creative part of my brain and melt into a different world in my mind, where possibilities of what I want to do with my life are endless. When I shut out the world and just play the background music my own story and ideas start singing through louder and louder and come to the forefront.
Bruno step aside, its my time now.
After a month or so of doing this I suprised myself at how my brain had now trained itself to take the cue when the music comes on, and that now when particular types of instrumental music come through my headphones it automatically slows down my mind without me trying. Its like my own timeout in my head where I can feel far away from everyone and everything, lost in my own thoughts – even when I’m squished in like a sardine with other Londoners on the underground during rush hour. It gives your brain permission to say ‘this is my time to think about me and what I want. These other feelings and thoughts have a place, but right here and now is not the time for them.’
I have found that pretty much anything in the ‘Focus’ section of the ‘browse’ function on Spotify works really well but my personal favourites are:
- Smooth Jazz
- Hans Zimmer
- Peaceful Guitar
- Peaceful Piano
- Instrumental Study
- Acoustic Concentration
I am also a big fan of listening to instrumental songs from films. Nothing helps more with motivation and focus than listening to The Gladiator soundtrack. You feel you can take on the world when you are pretending to be Russell Crowe. In fact, where’s my armour?
So whats my advice to you?
Give it a shot! If you always yearn for a bit of ‘thinking space’ but never seem to really find it then give this technique a try and see how you get on, and don’t give up on the first attempt – it can take a while to get used to, and for it and to grow on you. Try different types of instrumentals with different tempos and see what type of work style or thinking comes from them and what suits you. Work out what is condusive for you to get your mind and thoughts flowing, those that motivate and inspire you.
If you already do the above then what types of instrumentals work best for you?
On a side note I think its important I set some time aside to re-listen to all of the Spice Girls songs to see what I was actually singing as a kid out the window of my parents car…
Thanks for reading,