Day 66: Bilateral Music

Happy Sunday and Day 66 of Another 100 Days of Hannah, y'all!

First things first: not gonna lie, it feels pretty awesome to not be playing any part in the service this morning, and so being able to have a nice, relaxing, Sunday morning.
 
In any case - let's get onto blogging so I can make it to the 8:30 service!
 
So, this past week, my therapist suggested that I try listening to bilateral music.  If you're interested, contact me, and we can dive into all the fun neuro explanation behind it, but, the short premise is this:
 
The brain is wired so that it is attuned to change.
I mean, if we're looking from an evolutionary standpoint, this was a necessary mechanism for the identification of danger, and thus the preservation of life.
 
What this means though, is that the circuitry of the brain actually tunes out things that are constant.  This is why we generally don't have an awareness of the little things in our environment - the ticking of the clock, the feel of our clothes on our body, the feel of our tongue on our teeth, etc, etc, etc.
 
Which, in a lot of ways is a good thing.
I mean, processing literally everything in our environment all the time would be exhausting!
 
However, it also makes it really easy for our minds to go on autopilot.
 
Which, again, isn't always a bad thing.
But, especially in disease states such as anxiety and depression, the mind, like an unsupervised teenager, tends to get in trouble.
The thoughts begin to cycle.
Spin.
Over and over.
Round and round.
Until the person begins to feel trapped inside this whirling vortex of terror.

Please, someone, know this reference... Anyone? 
 
This is generally the point where mindfulness comes into play.
Sometimes though, mindfulness isn't enough to break the thought patterns.
 
And that, my friends, is where bilateral music comes into play.
 
Okay, fine, so actually, it's not limited to bilateral music.  Bilateral stimulation can come in the form of visual and tactile stimulation as well, which generally function on the same principle.  But, for today, we're focusing on the music side of things, because that's what I've been working with the most. 
 
With bilateral music, the sound is alternately streamed through each ear at a given interval (I haven't calculated or thoroughly researched the appropriate interval, but it seems to be consistent in all the music that I've listened to).  This alternation takes advantage of the brain's obsession with novelty, and thus forces constant attention to the auditory stimulus at sub-cortical levels.

As the brain begins to attend to the music, focus simultaneously begins to shift away from the tumultuous cycle of thoughts, therein helping to dissipate the anxious/depressed load.
 
Woah.
 
Now, a couple of things:
First, I'm not an expert in/on this topic.  I heard about it Friday, and have been trying it out the last couple of days.  I still have a lot more research to do on the subject, but wanted to share it with y'all, frankly because it's fascinating.
 
Insert 1.5 hour writing break because I did not get this post finished before having to leave for first service.
 
Second... What was second going to be again?
 
Second, I'm still in the experimental stages of using bilateral music for my own practice in managing... my whole inner world, so I don't know how successful it is or how successful it can be.
 
But, from my limited experience, it definitely does seem to help calm my mind and increase my awareness.
 
Admittedly, the constant alternation can be a little bit trippy, especially at first.  But, it's also fascinating to observe my attention shift from side to side as the music transitions.
 
Annd... I think that's all I've got for now.
 
Catch y'all tomorrow,
 
Hannah
 
PS: With bilateral music, you have to use headphones to listen to the music so it can be streamed in alternation.  Otherwise you're really just listening to chill music...



Want to read more?  Here's a link to my Day 66 post from 100 Days of Hannah.  Click the link to check it out!
 
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