Use Music to Create a Soundtrack for Your Life!
As we wrap up Gamma brainwave states, I’d like us to consider something that is often overlooked when we think about peak experiences: music.
If you think about how music affects us — from pumping us up, to filling us with pleasure, to bringing tears to our eyes — it’s not hard to imagine that music has a powerful effect on the brain and body.
Music can help energize our bodies, reduce fatigue, and increase our performance. For example, if we listen to music while exercising, our bodies pick up on the pace and flow of the music and start to mirror it. Music can even make a tough workout feel easier to complete. Studies show that endurance is increased when listening to music and that motivational music has an impact on stamina.
Music can also have an important effect on our brain. Listening to or studying music consistently remodels your brain and enables you to function at a higher level. MRI imaging has also shown that the pathways in your brain affected by music run from the cochlea in your ear, through the auditory nerve, and into the basal centres of your brain (the emotional centre of your brain).
Music has throughout time been an important and universal part of society. Stephen Koelsh published a literature review that documented the effects of music on individuals and groups and identified the following “seven Cs” of music. Music provides opportunities for:
1. Social contact with other human beings;
2. Dramatic increases in cognition (the function of your brain);
3. Co-pathy (empathy shared with others);
4. Communication (sharing lyrics and experiences);
5. More effective coordination (people are attuned to each other);
6. Enhanced cooperation (because shared experience); and
7. Greater cohesion among groups.
Listening to or playing music amplifies your brain, which means you can use music to amplify your life! Use music on your way to work to get ready for whatever lies ahead. Use music to transition to new activities, like the deep concentration required for a project or at the end of the day when you need to wind down. Align your music with your life and amazing things can happen.
If you want to dive deeper into the science of brainwave states, check out my book Rest Refocus Recharge: A Guide for Optimizing your Life.
What are we finding in the research?
Music has been shown to enhance endurance, sprint, and strength based exercise performance, however the degree to which it improves performance is debatable. In a recent review paper on this topic, Dr. Ballmann, a researcher from Samford University, suggests that music preference might explain the mixed results. Dr. Ballmann argues that music can improve exercise performance through physiological, psychological, and psychophysiological factors, but that this effect is mediated by musical preference. In other words, music is more likely to be an ergogenic aid when participants are allowed to select their own music.
So make your ultimate workout playlist to boost your performance and make it more enjoyable! :)