How is musical practice similar to meditation?
Relieves stress associated with running thoughts
Living with daily stress has become the norm and we have been convinced that a certain amount of stress is a good thing. This idea is entirely deceiving. All forms of stress are bad for you. The Japanese have found that many deaths are a direct result of stress. It is so common in their society they have a term for it: karoshi. It translates literally to “overwork death”.
Enter musical practice. Since it requires complete concentration there is no room for running thoughts and worries. All your effort goes into being completely present with the action and repetition of the piece you’re learning. After you are done your musical practice, much like meditation, you will feel more calm and relaxed.
They both help you be more creative
“Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you’re listening. Playing the piano allows you to do both at the same time.” – Kelsey Grammer.
Every day our mind learns, remembers and thinks about millions of pieces of information. We say our brain is like a computer. When our brain crashes there is no back up drive. When we don’t pay attention to our mind’s fatigue, our physical body also suffers. It is a vicious cycle.
When our minds are at rest and free of running thoughts, only then can it allow creative ideas to enter the brain. By allowing an absence of thought we can then let new ideas and possibilities flow into our minds.
Helps your brain grow more neural pathways
Practicing simple meditation techniques like concentrating on your breathing helps to build denser grey matter in parts of the brain associated with learning and memory. It truly is a mental exercise. The idea is ‘use it or lose it’. It’s like building a muscle.
When the mind processes music it draws on all parts of the brain in a whole-minded way similar to meditation. The fact that a targeted effort can increase learning tenfold sounds like a fairy tale, where a handful of tiny seeds grow into an enchanted vine. The vine turns out to be something close to a neurological fact.
This revolution is built on three simple facts. (1) every human movement, thought and feeling is a very precise electric signal traveling through a chain of neurons, a circuit of nerve fibers. (2) Myelin is the insulation that wraps these nerve fibers and increase the signal strength, speed, and accuracy. (3) The more we fire a circuit, the more myelin optimizes the circuit, and the stronger, faster, and more fluent our movements and thoughts become. The reason wisdom is often found in older people is because their circuits are fully insulated and instantly available to them. The volume of myelin in the brain continues to increase until around fifty. We have to remember that it is alive, breaking down and we are constantly rebuilding it.
To become good at piano takes a lot of time, which is what myelin is all about.
- Meditation for Daily Stress – Michel Pascal
- The Talent Code- Daniel Coyle