Music, Spotify And My Mental Health.
Updated: Apr 13
A Tiny Story about community, food, festivals, connecting, personal truth & the soul featuring the musical band Karuna Mandala performing their piece 'Om Namo'.(you can view their music further into this story).
There are three things that are the solid roots and foundations to my life that keep me grounded and working towards a better self. These are quite simple in essence, Creativity (art, music, literature, imagination, play), Connecting (Conversation, empathy, personal story, community food and environment) and the Pursuit of Truth (soul searching, learning, challenging, self reflection, journal-ling & morality).
The more of these that you can cultivate into your life, the more powerful at changing your moods and your mindsets you will become. Think about it a little before you disregard what may at first seem like a bit of a hippy or unauthorized statement. Compare eating alone in front of the telly to eating with a group of friends, then think about which one challenges you the most, bring you laughter, joy, real stories, ideas, conversations, bringing you closer to yourself and others. Which one would generate the most empathy? Which one makes you feel happier, better and well? Music can do this to us, as does experiencing art and many other things. Things that bring us together, transport us, draw on our deeper self, things that emotionally connect us, challenge our perceptions of the narrative we tell ourselves. Things that provide an opportunity to share experience and add to the story of a meaningful, connected and fulfilling life.
I have always been an avid eclectic music fan and a vegetarian with a very sweet tooth. From being very young, I became ‘politicized’ through music growing up on a notorious Northern Council Estate during the first and second wave of British underground punk and ska music. Interweave this soundtrack to my life with the heady sounds of psychedelic space rock (homage to Hawkwind here) and an eclectic crossover mix of deep underground dub reggae. I love music. Music is so integrated into my life that my existence has its own soundtrack, If music is not present in my life then I know something is not quite right with the world or my innermost thoughts.
Music is interwoven into the fabric of society and community life, we use music to express emotions, love, anger, pain, we use it to tell stories and explain complex meaning through simple poetic metaphor (I am eliminating processed manufactured music from these statements by the way, a terrible plague on our planet).
Most importantly, in a community setting music can help people to overcome anxiety, depression, existenial crisis or simply to relax, come together, share and connect. There is a growing plethora of research and evidence of the use and power of music to effect change on a personal, interpersonal and wider community level. Whether we learn and perform music or simply participate in the experience of hearing music we add something to our resilience and wellness. The evidence is becoming so important that in any community you will find community arts and health projects that include music and food. These projects range from independent and grassroots projects to full large scale System built projects (local authority, NHS and so on). to illustrate examples such as, local Mental Health Singing Groups all the way up to Town wide music and art festivals. These are not just to bring the tourists in but whether planned or not, have a meaningful impact on the emotional and social health of a community life. Throw in some food and an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation and there could be a lot more magic going on but I digress.
As I stated earlier I have a soundtrack to my life. I also have “mood” playlists on Spotify a punk one for when I need to be motivated to challenge or fight my way through something, A psychedelic one for when I feel happy in life and optimistic of the future. A psychedelic electronica and trance list for dreaming up ideas, projects, a classical one for when i need to learn something, and many more. I even use music to measure where I am in my self as I will explain.
As an ex-psychotherapist who has also lived with life-changing trauma & depressive episodes, I keep myself well, monitor my well-being and change my mindset through art, food & importantly, music. My diary contains lots of red dots A red dot a day for every day I have listened to music. If more than three days go by with no dot I then ask myself why? This starts a cognitive process of mindset change (rational emotive behavior change) instead of living in denial, I explore where my feelings are at, then acknowledge what i would prefer to feel. Once decided what i want to feel (outcome focus) I begin the process of both instilling this thought to memory and action through using the catalyst of selecting the right playlist (music). Works really well for me.
Music Is Important.
So, as you can imagine I was more than delighted to be asked to participate in a community festival recently where I met, talked and filmed the band, Karuna Mandela. A band that is passionate about music to be the catalyst of joy, happiness and Personal Growth. When you add into this mix the heady sweet sounds of India, great and meaningful conversations, laughter and joy and some amazing (and free) food from the Hindu & Hare Krishna Community, well you had me sold. Better than medication, any day.
What a lovely day, despite many traffic barriers along the way. Food was mouth watering Divinity. There is this creamy yogurt tangy thing that I couldn't get enough of, oh my, it was a delight to eat an explosion of taste, I kind of want some again now. The music of Karuna Mandala was just on another level, the people full of smiles, chatter, love and joy and it chose not to rain. That to me is a pretty good happiness creating, joy spreading, self-development day.
Karuna Mandala (A Bit About The Band)
Karuna Mandala is a three-piece musical band who perform Indian Influenced fusion music that has a sense of community soul and an intention of exploring the soul and spirituality through sound.
Tony is a businessman, working in adult social care. He has been a member of the popular northern Rock Band, ’The Backbeats’ for over 25 years. Tony started playing the guitar at the age of 8. He fell in love with the music of the Beatles at the same time and still is. The connection to George Harrison pointed him to explore the’Spiritual ‘ dimensions of music! He has four children, Simon, India, Nathaniel and Cameron.
Joanne has just retired early from a lifetime of teaching. She has always loved an eclectic range of music. Joanne Is a member of the Grand choir of Clitheroe and has performed in local folk bands. She has two children, Callum and Eleanor, enjoys foreign travel, recently, falling in love with India.
Amit has 3 children Keshav, Gauri-Radha and Devyan. He has been playing the Tabla from the age of 10 and has been classically trained by guru:- Professor Himadri Lahiry. Previously, Amid played in an Indian fusion band called Naya Sangeet, performing Hindi film songs and Bhangra hits. Amit has taught others Tabla and done solo/group performances including, regular participation in Kirtans and bhajans. Zakir Hussain is his Tabla idol.