Swing and A Miss: Chapter 10
Get Your Praise On
Get your praise on
What’s your theme song? Come on, we all have one. You know that one song you turn to that instantly calms your mind, inspires you, or fires you up. In middle school, “Eye of the Tiger” was my go-to song before track meets. (Spoiler, I never won a race, but I was fired up!) When I am feeling overwhelmed, I turn up praise music. The songs I choose may vary based on the circumstance, but Hillsong, Elevation Worship, Bethel Music, Mandisa, Toby Mac, For King and Country, Jeremy Camp, Pursue Worship, and Tauren Wells are going to be in the mix.
Science is beginning to prove how healing sound can be. Psychology Today reported a review of 400 published scientific articles on music as medicine found strong evidence that music has mental and physical health benefits in improving mood and reducing stress. In fact, rhythm in particular (over melody) can provide physical pain relief.
One study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine found that an hour-long sound meditation helped people reduce tension, anger, fatigue, anxiety, and depression while increasing a sense of spiritual well-being. Based on this research, I think we can agree turning up some praise and worship will help us as we navigate our disappointments. Another theory on the benefits of sound rests on the concept of “binaural beats” or “brain entrainment” which hypothesizes that listening to certain frequencies can synchronize and change one's brainwaves.
I know my brainwaves are in need of changing when I am faced with disappointment. Why? I can easily become caught up in negative thought cycles and beliefs. The negative cycles only add fuel to my anger, frustration, and hurt. But, when I change the direction my brain is moving, I am able to step out of the “ick” more easily.
Franz Wendtner, lead clinical psychologist o Austria General said, “Music is an important part of our physical and emotional well-being, ever since we were babies in our mother’s womb listening to her heartbeat and breathing rhythms.” Research has shown Music connects with the automatic nervous system (brain function, blood pressure and heartbeat) and the limbic system (feelings and emotions).
Research has shown when slow music is played, the bodily reaction follows suit– the heart blow slows down and blood pressure drops. This causes the breath to slow, which helps release tension in the neck, shoulders, stomach and back. Listening to slow or calming music on a regular basis can help our bodies relax, which over time, means less pain and faster recovery time.
But what type of music should we listen to when we are sitting smack dab in the middle of disappointment? Research from the University of Nevado, Reno claimed, “So what type of music reduces stress the best? A bit surprising is that Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind even when played moderately loud. Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature sounds may also be relaxing particularly when mixed with other music, such as light jazz, classical (the "largo" movement), and easy listening music. Since with music we are rarely told the beats per minute, how do you choose the relaxation music that is best for you? The answer partly rests with you: You must first like the music being played, and then it must relax you. Forcing yourself to listen to relaxation music that irritates you can create tension, not reduce it. If that happens, try looking for alternatives. It is important to remember that quieting your mind does not mean you will automatically feel sleepy. It means your brain and body are relaxed, and with your new calm self, you can then function at your best in many activities.”
Here is an assignment for you: find three to five songs that soothe you. Find the songs that cause your heartrate to slow, and your breathing becomes steady. For me, those songs will all be praise songs. All of the earth sings of His glory, and so will I.
Nature teaches us the power of sound. Pastor Louie Giglio demonstrated this in a video entitled, “Symphony of Stars, Whales, and Praise.” This video is simply amazing. Together, nature sings “How Great is our God.” Go ahead, go search for the video, I will wait here for you. Mind blowing, right? Every time I watch that clip, I am in awe, and find myself instantly calmed. That is the power of sound.
Find the sound that offers you hope, music that soothes you. The last thing we need when hyped up on our disappointment is a heart pumping song. We need to come down off the ledge of despair, and breathe. We need melodies to wrap tightly around us and keep us grounded. Find the soothing rhythms that will ease away tension.