by Samantha Morris, Integrative Art Psychotherapist and certified Life Coach

We all have times in our lives when we feel we cannot find the words because we are too upset, angry or traumatised. Or, sometimes, words can feel or be too limiting and don’t live up to what we are feeling. Sometimes we may feel that words cannot contain either our darkest hours, or perhaps our vibrant joy. In this sense, a lot of people ask how can music (or the arts) help to express, communicate or process my emotions and experiences? There are so many different answers and layers to this…but to keep things short and simple let’s consider this:

Have you ever experienced a piece of music that takes you back to a certain memory? Perhaps it was your first love, a break-up, a life milestone, different
stages along your recovery journey, or simply a piece of music where you felt able to put on your headphones, relax, perhaps dance to and escape the world? Yet why is it that there are some pieces of music you either dislike or want to turn off, or shut out? Whereas, other music can draw you to tears of sadness or joy? Perhaps you even find yourself singing along to those sounds, or find yourself first on the dance floor unleashing those groovy moves? Maybe you already know the why this is, or perhaps you don’t, and that’s OK!

But questions and logic aside…what music and the arts allow us is both verbal and non-verbal expression and communication of feelings. They allow us to be playful, to create, to have fun, to be spontaneous, to interact with the many different parts of ourselves, and to allow our inner child to have a voice. Through listening to music, we connect with our individual souls, as well as other people through words, rhythm, beat, sound and melody. Yet, on a deeper level we reach an understanding that we are not alone in the world- that other people have also walked these similar scenic paths or rocky terrains.

So…. yes this blog is relatively short, sweet and simple. But, the simple truth is music connects. So…why not listen to your new and old playlists or even share your music with others? You may find yourself cringing with the sound of someone else’s music or even your own music choices and that’s ok, and perhaps with empathy and self-compassion you will be able to gain a little awareness as to why that is, or maybe not. However, you may even surprise yourself as you begin to hear an old or new tune with a different perspective.

Of course some music will always trigger us to reminisce about the good or more challenging times and it is good to be aware of this, and to know your own
boundaries of what you are ready to listen to and the music you are not ready to listen to. But, if you take one thing away from this, remember your unique stories deserve to be heard, seen, shared and acknowledged. So…why not put on your headphones on, or plug your iPhone or iPod into a shared connection? Perhaps you’re already dancing and having fun, or perhaps you find it difficult to feel the melody, rhythm, words or beat of the music just at this moment. But know this-you are not alone and with an open heart and safe healthy curiosity, your story will evolve, and you will dance again! Just keep listening and tuning in…!