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Do You Mind?

This won’t surprise you: a 2015 report from the American Psychological Association showed that Gen X’ers and Millennials (1965-1996) are more stressed than earlier generations. Jobs. Family. Money. Politics.

          Stress = Distraction.

          Distraction = Un-focus

          Un-focus = Failure. Jobs. Money, etc.

Make no mistake, there are longtail repercussions of confronting and navigating these stressors. Those of us dealing with particularly thorny and/or overwhelming circumstances are more prone to engage in distracting and/or harmful behavior. Smoking. Random naps that screw with our sleep cycle. Marathon sessions in front of one screen or another. Even heavy drinking.

Or, just as unhelpful to your health, reaching for the comfort food.

All these distractions, in their own right, will take a toll that perpetuates the stress it was trying to drive away.

So your Netflix binge only brought you closer to your deadline and you still haven’t gotten anything done. You were stressed about your budget before you went to the bar last night to drown said stress, and now you’re another $50 in the hole and you’re hungover. Your kids are still screaming even after you gobbled that sleeve of Oreos like Cookie Monster.

Makes sense that in the past 20 years, Gen X’ers and Millennials have flocked toward the “mindfulness” movement. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, or simple breathing exercises, the everyday practice of mindfulness technique almost doubled between 2002 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and it’s still rising precipitously.

In the past few years, meditation alone has become a billion-dollar industry. The internet is rife with guided meditations and crash courses on how to monitor your thoughts and manage stress. A corollary to the craze of fitness influencers on Instagram and Snapchat, are those mindfulness gurus such as @sharonsalzberg and @youphoria.

There are so many mindfulness tools out there that they overwhelm us, stress us out!

          Nevertheless, a mindfulness lifestyle can offer temporary respite from the perpetual stressors of modern life. But influencers in the mindfulness space strive to cultivate a way of living that allows for a transcendence of those stressors. You should be able to focus on what’s important, and let the small shit go.

          Music’s often a close cousin to mindfulness. Whereas you might expect loudish, upbeat, and percussive tunes to heighten the benefits of a body workout, when it comes to destressing the brain, you’re more likely to go lowkey. It’s a good bet that you’ve heard some ambient or natural sounds when you go for a massage or go to the yoga studio.

          Singer/songwriter and meditation trainer Julianna Raye says that music-based meditation is laden with misconceptions, foremost among them being that the two simply don’t go together.

“[I]f you’re listening to music as your practice [of mindfulness],” says Raye, “you’re discovering what’s happening inside you while you listen to that music. You’re exploring your relationship to the music, as a path of self discovery.”

No! Double-no!

Music you love inflames the mind, it doesn’t tame the brain.

“Exploring your relationship to the music” is exactly what happens when you listen actively to a song you love. All its associations – sensual, emotional, intellectual – take your brain on a ride. The song’s the engine and your mind’s just the caboose. That’s the opposite of mindfulness. That’s the definition of distraction.

It’s all about the right music in the right place at the right time.

Ideally, you should couple your mindfulness sessions with music specifically designed to work on a non-conscious level. You want it to trigger the state of focus on the thing you want to focus on. To be optimally mindful, not of itself, but on the task at hand.

You want your limbic (“lizard”) brain to listen passively in accordance with the brainwave cycles and your brain type, freeing up the cerebral areas for maximum concentration. Try the right Focus@Will channel for you here. Let us know the results.

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