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It is quite amazing what music does to me; how it makes me move, sing; how it brings up emotions … no, how my emotions respond like they are in a dance with the music. The music calls and my emotions answer – in an instant. And then the dance begins, often literally. I am compelled to move once the music speaks to me. Sometimes with poignant emotion, sometimes with just an infectious rhythm that I feel compelled to express myself to. I want to answer it’s call. And so if I don’t move my body, I drum … on something – much to the chagrin of some people around me. Too bad for them I think. On the other hand, I often meet people who are amused and intrigued by my spontaneity.

No question, music is our easiest access to transformation. Without music most of the movies you’ve seen would not have had the emotional impact they’ve had. Take a look at the video clips that I posted on July 11th and 17th of this year. Do you think either of them would have been noteworthy without the music?

Music literally transforms how you feel in an instant, and for The Practice of Your Life I would like to bring this to your attention, because how we feel – our mood, our attitude towards things – directly influences what’s possible for us. Music transforms our mood, how we feel in a particular moment. Music can literally transform who you are being while you are listening. Want to feel aggressive, happy, sad, angry, determined, passionate, anxious, fearful, terrified, proud etc., etc. There’s a song out there that will do the job.

The power of music comes from it’s ability to bring up the entire range of possible emotions in us. So why not bring attention to the music that you listen to? Consciously categorize the music you listen to by the mood it brings up for you, and use it to transform negative emotions to positive ones, to transform down moods into up moods.

(Disclaimer: I’m not saying that there is anything bad or wrong about down moods or negative emotions. Human beings are meant to experience the full range of emotions, and you’d never know which way was up if you’ve never been down. I am saying that your mood does influence how you think, what you say and what you do. Up moods tend to open up more possibilities in your thoughts, words and deeds, and down moods tend to shut down possibilities. I am saying that you can consciously choose to change your mood and when you do music can help.)

Happy music for me comes from the Caribbean and South/Latin America e.g. Soca, Zouk, Merengue, Salsa, Samba etc. Most of the songs of these types lift me up and I want to grab a woman in dance.

When I want to feel powerful I listen to Sinatra and sing.

When I want to feel or express sorrow, there’s no one artist for me but there are several songs that bring up a sweet beautiful sorrow like, This Old Man (Kenny Rankin), This Woman’s Work (original by Kate Bush and a really great interpretation by Maxwell), A Day in the Life of a Fool (done by Kenny Rankin and really emotional rendition by Patrick de Santos).

Some songs like And So It Goes (Billy Joel) and Yesterday When I was Young (Charles Aznavour) make me reflect on my life.

Songs like Drown in My Own Tears (Ray Charles) bring up a cheerful, sad, wise optimism about life. Ray Charles by the way covers the whole gamut for me. In fact if I were to have only one Artist’s work with me on a deserted island it would be his.

Lounge music creates a great atmosphere for sensuality, and when I want to work out I look to Rockitwave 8.

So why not take an inventory of your music and start using it for effect. In the same way that you might use music to artfully engineer a seduction, or produce a max calorie burn, you can also use music to set the stage for thinking, reading, reflecting and simply managing how you feel. I highly recommend using music in the practice of your life. And you get to create what that looks like.

Tip: Use whatever feels. 😉

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How do you generate yourself to do what you know you ought to? How can you generate yourself to take the actions that are consistent with your declarations of who you say you are or what you say you are committed to?

You know how it works. I just don’t feel like going to the gym today, or I should study today but I just don’t feel like it.  I should call my brother, take my kid out to play, etc. etc.

Acting from how we feel rather than our word is the biggest challenge most of us will face in our daily lives, and this is where the seeds of love, happiness, success are planted every day in the choices we make.

So “Ok” you say.  “I get that! But come back to your original question. How do I generate myself to act despite my feeling that I don’t want to, or better yet, how do I change the way I feel about doing something so that I’ll want to do it?”

Well, there are many books, coaches and therapists that have answers to these questions, and I don’t intend to do a treatise on the subject of motivation in this post.  What I can offer is that it’s important to remember that you already know how to change your moods, or how you feel.  What happens to you when you listen to different types of music, or when you watch movies?  Certain songs or movies can bring you up, bring you down, scare you, inspire you and so on.  There are certain passages of certain books that give you strength.

If you’re committed to living the practice of your life start noticing what changes your mood, and what is the mood that results.  How do you feel after you read from that passage in your religious book, listening to that song by Sinatra, or eating the hot fudge sundae. Start looking for new mood altering experiences that you can count on.

They can exist in many forms, and affect you through all of your senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.

Noticing your moods is a fundamental exercise in your life practice.

So I was at the club of a good friend of mine last night. If you live in New York and like live music its called Rose. Anyway my friend Carlo asked me to help him diffuse a situation with a young man who was apparently causing some concern from Carlo for his place and his patrons.

So there I was in the basement of this club talking to a very young man, more likely a boy, who I can best describe as proud, rebellious, and oh yeah … cool. Being attached to all three, he was not about to be intimidated by the threat of the police. He was there to stay.

Now the interesting thing for me is that I could not understand this young man. Apart from his repeated entreaties for my understanding his case and how he felt, “You feel me?”, I really struggled to understand what exactly he was angry about.

In his speak I just wasn’t “feelin” him. Except that I got that this young man felt that he was treated unjustly and he wasn’t going to take it. I also saw that what he was angry about had nothing to do with what occurred that night in Carlo’s club. This young man was walking around with anger. He has a conversation/a story about the world being unfair and out to get him and last night he simply found the latest expression of his story.

And he talked non-stop. He spoke the language of his peers and his community and boy did I feel square. I tried my best to “get down with homey” and “dig his deal” but man I was just not hipping with the hop.

This reminded me about Senator Obama’s speech. Here was a very angry young man, that at a very fundamental level just needed to let it out and be heard. It just happened he chose the wrong place and time to do that, and he was also completely blinded by his anger. So angry that he couldn’t listen.

For me this was interesting in that you can’t have communication when no-one is listening. And how do you get someone to listen. Now it would be simple to say that first people must be calm and not in a mood of anger to listen. But being in the right mood is not sufficient. Listening is a practice of being. It is not a skill of tips and techniques that allow you to truly get what’s going on for another person.

Now it really helps when both sides are speaking the same language even if it’s street or Caribbean dialect. So if there is a community that you want to be in communication with you’ve got two practices: first, practice speaking their language, and second practice being compassionate in your listening.

“You hear what I’m sayin’ bro? You feel me?”

By the way cops came and “escorted” the young man out of the club.