How Does Music Affect You ?

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If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, please give it a go, o.k.?

Those inspiring kids had profound results from relating to music. One important factor was that they all played music. Having grown up in a musical family, I know the power of “making music”. Psychologists and Teachers understand that power, too !

But whether you have music affect you by making it or just listening to it, it does have some rich rewards.

What’s your experience with music?

How does it affect you?

Why do you think music has such effects on people?

Do you dare leave a comment ???

Transcending the Murmur

Today we have a treat !

Isabella Mori, psychotherapist and owner of the blog, Change Therapy, relates her spiritual insight . . .

~~~~~~~~~

In the late 90’s, early 2000’s, I was working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Canada’s “poorest urban postal code”. I did outreach counselling and worked out of a number of places, one of them First United Church.

First United Church in Vancouver is a mission church – it focuses mostly on providing services to people who are extremely marginalized: morning soup for people who are homeless, foot care for people with disabilities, advocacy for single mothers, health care for survival sex trade workers, etc.

Now at First United Church they had this wonderful morning service. Right in the middle of people sleeping off their hangovers in the pews and drug users finding a moment’s quiet for their overwrought minds, each weekday morning at 8:45, a handful of people would congregate to sing, read a bible verse and reflect and pray together. It was the most beautiful thing – church, I believe, as intended by Jesus.

Almost right from the beginning of me working out of First United, every day I’d be there – usually Wednesday and Friday mornings – I’d make sure to participate in these services. I loved the songs and the little discussions around the readings, mostly from the bible, sometimes from some other religious material.

Towards the end of each service, we’d say the Lord’s Prayer, in different versions. I really enjoyed the Maori version. But when we said the “normal” version – I just didn’t want to say it. I had a real problem with it, particularly when it comes to “… and lead us not into temptation.” What do you mean, lead us not into temptation?? I imagined a God looking down at us thinking, hmmm, this Isabella down there, should I lead her into temptation today? That kind of God didn’t look at all palatable to me, and I wasn’t going to pray to him!

A few months into me participating in these services, the minister who usually led the service came up to me and said, “Listen, I’ve noticed you show up here every Wednesday. I’m going on vacation, it’s summer, most everyone else is on vacation, too – could you lead the service while I’m away?”

I was a bit flabbergasted but being the sport that I am I said, “Ah, sure, I guess.” But then I remembered: “Wait, I can’t do that! Haven’t you noticed how I never say the Lord’s Prayer?”

“No, I haven’t. I thought you liked the Maori Prayer.”

“I love it. But the other one, the usual version … “

“What about it?”

I explained to him my conundrum. (What a blessing, now that I think of it. I felt so comfortable with this guy that I had no problem telling him what I thought of this God who’s toying with me – “Should I lead her into temptation today? Shouldn’t I?”)

What he said next has made a huge difference in my life. Let me paraphrase:

“Isabella, there are many different ways of interpreting this. For example, you could see it as meaning, ‘as I am going down the path of temptation, please help me steer away from it, lead me somewhere else.’

You can do this with anything in the Bible. As a matter of fact, I encourage you to do that. Read the Bible in such a way that it gives you the most benefit. Let the Bible be something that God has written for YOU. Make it your own!”

It was one of those moments where something that I had known intellectually for a long time all of a sudden made sense to me on a very deep, transformative level. It was as if Pastor Bruce had showed me a door that I had passed by for decades. All I needed to do was open it and walk through.

It opened the door for me to go back to and discover Christian texts – the Bible in its many translations, the beautiful words of the 13th-century woman mystic Julian of Norwich, the more contemporary writings by Brother Roger of Taize, to name a few – as well as other spiritual texts that had heretofore not really touched me, most notably 12-step literature.

It changed my life.

Spirituality had always been an important part in my life but after this, I reached a level of commitment and passion that I had always longed for but could never completely feel in my bones. My lifelong interest in Buddhism deepened, I felt free to reclaim my strong Christian roots planted by my deeply religious Lutheran minister grandfather, I gained a deep appreciation of the wisdom of the 12 steps, and the Pagan stirrings that had been with me since the early 80s unfolded into a beautiful, nurturing and creative spiritual practice.

Why am I telling you all this? A while ago, I read some moving words here on Alexander’s blog. They moved me but … I had a bit of a funny reaction to the specific use of language. Thankfully, I had a little conversation with Alexander about that and showed him my own rewrite of the quote. In response he quoted a Baha’i text:

“Reveal then Thyself, O Lord, by Thy merciful utterance and the mystery of Thy divine being, that the holy ecstasy of prayer may fill our souls – a prayer that shall rise above words and letters and transcend the murmur of syllables and sounds – that all things may be merged into nothingness before the revelation of Thy splendor.”
Compilations, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 70

… and that reminded me of my experience with Pastor Bruce.

Yes.

Let’s rise above words and letters and transcend the murmur of syllables and sounds – that all things may be merged into nothingness before the revelation of God’s splendor.

~~~~~~~~~

Isabella Mori is Canada’s blogging psychotherapist and talks about spirituality, psychology, creativity and social justice on her blog Change Therapy.

Our Responsibility to Society

map of archetypes

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Don’t let that image fool ya. This post is about our riotous internal lives, not some bone dry realm of abstract psychology.

Even though my highest allegiance is to my Faith, I have studied quite a bit of psychology. I found my most impressive psychologist while I was studying Tarot, Astrology and the I ChingCarl G. Jung.

You can inhale the fragrance of a “Jungian” view of your personality from the site below (this is a simple test but seems to be playing in the right ballpark). Here’s my own result:

INFP – “Questor”. High capacity for caring. Emotional face to the world. High sense of honor derived from internal values. 4.4% of total population.

Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

Basically, according to Jung and his theories of the unconscious, there’s a whole zoo of characters beyond our innocent faces. And, the Major task of life is to integrate this menagerie into a Self…

In a previous post, I pointed toward an important paper about treating our own internal realm as a “community”, an approach that lets us be kinder and more compassionate toward unregenerate aspects of our Whole Self.

So, what I’ve been trying to approach in this rather rambling post is an attitude toward our own internal self that lets us relate to others authentically. In the highest sense, we can talk about progressive stages of identifying our “self” to larger and more complex levels of “organization”–an ascending spiral of blossoming compassion.

Every imperfect soul is self-centred and thinketh only of his own good. But as his thoughts expand a little he will begin to think of the welfare and comfort of his family. If his ideas still more widen, his concern will be the felicity of his fellow citizens; and if still they widen, he will be thinking of the glory of his land and of his race. But when ideas and views reach the utmost degree of expansion and attain the stage of perfection, then will he be interested in the exaltation of humankind. He will then be the well-wisher of all men and the seeker of the weal and prosperity of all lands. This is indicative of perfection.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 68

The Edge

Ever felt you were on the Edge?

Once, I felt so edgy I wrote a poem about it:

Sharp Choice

On the edge is where I live, and
Edges can be fine. So fine they
Sever wants from acts and leave no
Blood behind.
This edge I’m on comes from the
Depths—a well of yearning
Yawns—and
Severance is the
Price to
Pay for
Grace to
Carry
On…

Edges are generally created when two aspects of ourselves, or we and another (the “other” could be society) are “at odds”; when two forces are misaligned or actively in conflict.

Here’s a reference to a Supreme Edge:

Take thou good heed that ye may all, under the leadership of Him Who is the Source of Divine Guidance, be enabled to direct thy steps aright upon the Bridge, which is sharper than the sword and finer than a hair, so that perchance the things which from the beginning of thy life till the end thou hast performed for the love of God, may not, all at once and unrealized by thyself, be turned to acts not acceptable in the sight of God.

Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 96

Now, to leave you with some psychology:

“Jungians believe that compensation in the service of individuation is the primary transformative function of dreams. Jung (1916a) classifies dreams in three basic categories: reactive, compensatory, and prospective. Reactive dreams simply reproduce an experience that has had a traumatic emotional impact on the psyche. According to Jung, however, most dreams are compensatory. What they compensate is the attitude of the ego in the present. The attitude of the ego is always partial and prejudicial; in the extreme case, it may be utterly defective. Jung defines the ego as identity. That is, the ego is identified with a certain attitude and is disidentified from other, alternative perspectives of which it is, for whatever reason, unconscious. Compensatory dreams challenge the ego to relate to perspectives to which it has previously been unrelated or ineffectively related. The ego may then seriously entertain, evaluate, and either accept or reject these perspectives.”

Adams, M.V. (2000). Compensation in the Service of Individuation—Phenomenological Essen… Psychoanal. Dial., 10:127-142.