Musical Memories: Healing the Past

"Many say that life entered the human body by the help of music, but the truth is that life itself is music." - Hafiz
I went to an Indigo Girls concert last night at Wolf Trap.  The last time I had heard them live was at Lilith Fair when I was 14 years old.  Their music still moved me, but what I noticed most was how I was thrown back into the memories of my teenage self.  I could actually feel my body morphing into how it felt as a teenager: constricted, angst-y, hungry for love and attention and eager to be different and be recognized.  I could remember various scenes of listening to their music - heartbroken on my bed, or driving with my friends, or sitting on the grass at Lilith Fair feeling so cool to be at a big concert with friends.  I also noticed the distinct dichotomy of who I was then versus who I am now and had to spend most of the concert breathing and integrating these two selves, their emotions, and thoughts, in order to feel more unified and whole. 

Like scent memories, musical memories capture the essence of a moment and catapult us back into that moment when we hear it again due to music's remarkable ability to impact us at a deep cellular level.

Sometimes we like these memories, other times we don't.

But if we can be aware of the memories and how they affect us physically, emotionally, and mentally, we can learn from them and integrate their message into our current realities, allowing us to become more whole and more authentic.  (I have a feeling the falling-down-drunk girls sitting behind my friend and I were reliving some painful memories themselves - without so much success in the integrating part!)

For my part, allowing myself to feel the presence of my teenage self and hold her in compassion instead of locking her and her memories back into the closet in which they usually live, brought a whole new level of clarity and appreciation for what she went through.  By accepting her pain and her joys I can appreciate how they played a role in getting me to where I am today, and I can listen to the Indigo Girls with a renewed sense of openness and gratitude, creating new memories with their music.

To create your own Musical Memory Healing try the following steps:

  • Select a piece of music that holds potent memories for you.
  • Listen to it and notice.
    • How does your body feel?
    • What images pop up?
    • What feelings arise?
    • What stories and thoughts spin through your mind?
  • Write all this down in a notebook
  • Listen to the song again, this time breathing deeply and paying attention to your breath throughout, as in meditation.
  • Listen a third time and notice your surroundings, your current reality, even sing along if so inspired.
  • Observe any shifts or insights that have occurred and write about it as you desire.

Please comment below with how this process works for you!  I'd love to hear what musical memories you have and what insights they may provide for you.