The Power (and Science) of Music in Mindful Living

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 · 7 Comments

Have you ever stopped to think about how profound music has been for you in your life? Just the beginning of a song can change someone’s mood, drop us into a state of reflection on life, reduce stress or even prepare us for a better athletic performance.

For many people there may be a calming effect to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” Or Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” can create a surge of energy bringing up a feeling of courage and confidence. Or Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” can drop you into a reflective mood on the impermanence of life and the longing for connection. Apparently, science shows that Beethoven’s 9th symphony can lower blood pressure and improve heart disease. Then there’s Matisyahu’s “One Day” that can inspire a sense of global hope and instantly bring a smile to your face.

That is why throughout my upcoming program A Course in Mindful Living, a small part of each Lesson introduces a song that is meant to inspire the theme for that time. For example, in the first month we’re focusing on the understanding and practice around making our minds functional again. This means allowing them to be deeply relaxed, awake and focused. The theme revolves around “Relax and Retune.” Oxford University scientists took 24 healthy volunteers and had them listen to a variety of different forms of music. They found that listening to music with a 10-second repetitive cycle like Beethoven’s third movement No. 9 can lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease.

Music has dramatic effects on our thoughts, emotions and sensations.

Okay, so Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is over an hour, but take a moment to soften your shoulders, even lie down if you can, and listen to this for a few minutes. Your only job is to see what you notice, and then I’m going to ask you something after.

Now, tell us how music impacts you! Share with us music that inspires any of these feelings for you – calm, wakefulness, self-acceptance, self-compassion, joy, happiness, energy, compassion, generosity, and balance.

Let’s learn from one another, allowing for the creation of a Playlist for life.




  1. Mary
    March 19, 2017 at 12:21 am

    I felt instantly anxious and overwhelmed. Turned it down, but still had to turn it off. HORRID!! Sounds like it was composed by a dramatic angry person that was having loud outbursts of complaining. I turned it off so I could go back to feeling calm. I can’t imagine that anyone would feel relaxed by it. Some Mozart is nice, or Pachabel perhaps.

  2. Joan
    October 23, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    My fav is Masarau Emoto’s “Water Crystal Healing” book with two amazing CDs of healing music.

  3. Jaya
    October 23, 2016 at 9:58 am

    I enjoy Beethoven very much.. However, the melodies of Lata, Rafi, Kishore are the most calming for me. Adnan Sami\’s Poochoo :…This has been my all time favorite for the last 9 years since the divorce…back to my roots and the culture I was raised available personality and original endowments I came into this world with are supported by the music I heard in my childhood and subsequently growing up.. my subject in formation informed by bollywood movies full of life dramas building my emotional resilience..

  4. MK
    October 20, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Amazing! Within minutes of beginning to listen to this selection, I was transposed into a more centered, positive, integrated, wholesomeness. The minutia of a busy day was gone; the negativity, fear and judgment were transformed as I returned to the balance of acceptance and compassion. I am grateful for your wisdom and guidance, Elisha.

  5. October 20, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Love classical music, my favorite composers are Chopin & Mozart, their music has a calming effect on my soul . KUSC 91.5 FM is my favorite classical station …… Ommmm

  6. Linda
    October 20, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Oh my, I have had a physical reaction to an old tune that reminds me of past loves.
    Am I alone in this?

  7. October 20, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Any Vivaldi make me feel uplifted.
    Pachelbel Cannon calms me down. I listen to it when stuck in traffic.

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