Music is evocative, conjuring up memories long past, reaching pockets of the brain that other things can’t. It soothes, de-stresses and can change our mood in an instant. Listening to music and playing it stimulates the brain in a very powerful way, because of our emotional connection with it.
Here is my wonderful and enlightening week on Music for a Beautiful Mind.
Day 1 – Learn to play an instrument
Playing a musical instrument is an incredible experience that involves combining information from nearly all your senses – vision, hearing, and touch that can induce long-lasting changes in the brain. The knowledge involved in learning to play an instrument enhances the growth and strength of the brain’s network with potential to ward off Alzheimer’s disease as well as other forms of dementia.
Was I up to the challenge to learn to play an instrument when I don’t have a musical bone in my body? I was convinced by the lovely Lisa McCormick from Guitar Tricks that I could easily learn to play the guitar in 10 hours https://www.guitartricks.com/ I chose the free online option and was some what surprised at how easy it was to follow. Will keep you posted and might even show you may repertoire very soon. Stevie Nicks – watch out!
Day 2 – Kirtan Kriya
Kirtan Kriya is a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, which has been practiced for thousands of years. Although it is a meditation it involves singing and hand exercise by touching your finger tips together. It is believed in Eastern culture that the placement of the tongue on the roof of the mouth while making the sound sa, ta, na, ma stimulates 84 acupuncture points on the upper palate. This causes a beneficial bio-chemical transformation in the brain. In addition, Western research has revealed that utilizing the fingertip position in conjunction with the sounds enhances blood flow to particular areas in the motor-sensory part of the brain. Clinical findings has shown that practicing Kirtan Kriya for just 12 minutes a day can improve your memory and increase brain size which really caught my attention. It has the ability to reduce stress as it can lower your cortisol levels while increasing blood flow to the brain. By far the most exciting gold nugget is that Kirtan Kriya can increase your telomeres which is basically your DNA and the longer your DNA the longer you will live. For me personally I love that it helps with sleep and can also reduce depression and increase clarity. I am easily distracted so this meditation is perfect for me as the singing keeps my mind still. It is now part of my daily routine and I highly recommend it.
How do you practice Kirtan Kriya?
- Repeat the Saa Taa Naa Maa sounds while sitting with your spine straight. With each syllable, imagine the sound flowing in through the top of your head and out the middle of your forehead (your third eye point).
- For two minutes, sing in your normal voice.
- For the next two minutes, sing in a whisper.
- For the next four minutes, say the sound silently to yourself.
- Then reverse the order, whispering for two minutes, and then out loud for two minutes, for a total of twelve minutes.
- To come out of the exercise, inhale very deeply, stretch your hands above your head, and then bring them down slowly in a sweeping motion as you exhale.
It is wonderful for me to do with my mama as I feel she benefits from my some what bad singing/chanting too! The finger positions, are very important in this. Here is a little demo on how to do it.
For the full 12 minute version by the guru Nirinjan Kaur please click here
Day 3 – Singing
The power of singing gives you better posture, better oxygenation and can stimulate tissue. Belting out a great song can lift your endorphins and activate your pituitary gland. It was fascinating to discover that singing activated the left side of the brain and listening to music sparked activity in the right. With so much of the brain being stimulated research shows that music and song can be even more powerful than looking at photos for Alzheimer’s patients.
While I am not a great singer turning up the sounds when no one is around and singing at the top of my lungs can have a wonderful and uplifting effect. Singing in the shower? Absolutely! My children are great shower singers – especially my 7 year old India.
Day 4 – Listening to Music
Studies show that listening to music 30 minutes daily is incredibly healing and stimulating to the mind for everyone from babies, through to teenagers and of course the elderly. The brain works through numbers and patterns particularly with concertos. Listening to the likes of Mozart stimulates the brain in a particular way and can evoke emotion in even the most advanced of Alzheimer’s patients. When I play music to my mother she has loved in the past I feel it really connects with her and is a big part of our routine. A wonderful friend of Mums and mine, Yoyo often plays piano to her. Watch the incredible connection when she starts to play to my beautiful Mama.
So whether or not you believe music can expand your brain, have the knowledge that it will enhance your life and have the power to stir memories or simply enjoy Music for a Beautiful Mind.