I haven’t been listening to any music lately. What’s up?

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Have you been struggling to listen to music lately? Read on to hear about one of our writer’s thoughts on this, and ways you can get back to your happy place!

Have you been asking yourself recently, “what’s been inspiring me?” Are you struggling to think of many artists, or instantly think of your ‘go to’ artists that you’ve known for years?  You may feel like listening to something completely new. However, in a hectic life and a hectic world, you may think, “when is there ever time?”. You can’t listen to music because you need to work, you have things to do or places to be. Of course that’s fine, but this feeling still persists.

I’m going to write this post completely from my own experience, and what I’m going to do to listen to more new music in a busy lifestyle, RIGHT NOW. For anyone that doesn’t know me, I’m 24, recently moved to the city from the countryside and work multiple jobs. I may just be starting out with new jobs and work, but recently I’ve only been listening to new music on occasion and sometimes even find it difficult to name many artists new on the scene. I definitely think the new digital life many of us live can be orientated and even mislead us to short term gains filled with distraction.

In my eyes, sitting down and listening to music with no other objectives or distractions is like meditation. It’s an inward activity, a deep journey to the sole of being. An experience of ‘no mind’, where you don’t do anything but feel and experience. It’s really indescribable with logic, unless you’re listening to a piece for its technical charms. I think the most important thing to realise is that an active mind will always make excuses not to sit down quietly and take these inward activities in, like reading, meditation and listening to music. All of these serve exactly the same purpose. To spark the soul and help you go deeper into your understanding of being. The mind will make excuses out of fear and insecurity not to do it because the mind and awareness of being cannot exist together at the same time. It seems you either access one or the other. And the mind fears its own death. It makes excuses to stay alive throughout your day and even night, through work, thoughts, fears, addictions and so on.

I find it’s (perceivably) difficult in a digital word with laptops and smart phones, not to be distracted. I wasn’t alive many of the years before the computer, but I’d like to know if it was any easier to sit down and listen to music without distractions. It certainly seems that way. I’ve had thoughts that I lack the time and I want to make change. So I think it’s a good idea to analyse my day and see where there are activities which are only distractions and don’t really serve any purpose or benefit me greatly (rather than trying to cram in listening to more music into an already hectic life). If I ask myself why listening to music is important to me, it’s like I’m extending my childhood. I’m going back to that special place where I’ve witnessed true happiness and perfection.

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For me, certainly surfing the internet is a biggy distraction. I’m in one of the first generations to grow up with it, which  means almost all my peers and friends are connected also. I could definitely free up some time by prioritising when I don’t need to be endlessly surfing the web. One thing I did this week to experiment how I could discipline myself with my computer is to stick a big ‘Work Only’ sticker on the front (I’m the type of person who needs physical or tangible restrictions. Simply thinking about it doesn’t work for me most of the time). Low and behold, this actually worked for the first few days. I didn’t go surfing the web after my work and I sat down and listen to one of my favourite records of last year (Requiem by GOAT). The sticker has generally worked over the past two weeks. There have been five occasions where I’ve sat down and listen to vinyl. Certainly a lot more than the zero times the previous two weeks! (Also HIGHLY recommend the new Slowdive album. I’m left in tears to the beauty of it as I’m writing this).

An important book I’m reading for myself at the moment is called The Shallows – How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember by Nicholas Carr. In the book it says that the internet can have neurological consequences. Just as neurons that fire together, wire together, neurons that don’t fire together don’t wire together. The circuits that support those old intellectual functions such as reading, quiet reflection and contemplation weaken and begin to break apart. The brain can recycle the disused neurons and synapses for other, more pressing work. We gain new skills and perspectives but lose old ones. I guess what this is saying is too much computer and internet time can mean you hinder and even potentially lose your skill to read and take inward reflection. Could this mean you lose the skill to quietly reflect and listen to music without getting distracted? Certainly being able to sit still and doing nothing without giving into distraction is a skill that can be built up. That’s the essence of meditation. Deep reading or deep listening then becomes a form of deep thinking. The mind of an experienced book reader or music listener is a calm mind, not a buzzing one.

I can’t say that everyone will be able to cut something from their lives for more music time. It’s up to the individual how often they want to take that inward journey and brush up on their deepening skills. But it’s a journey that shouldn’t be neglected if you want to get to the truth of who you are and be happy. One thing is for sure, if you disregard or make your health a secondary importance in your life, you’re going to suffer. I think taking time to stop and care for yourself internally is a very healthy thing, and one thing that’s massively helped me is to just bring awareness when you’re ignoring that inner voice and  being distracted. Make your next decision from your core and not your head.

Here’s to listening to more music in 2017!

By Jared Parsons

 

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