June 13, 2011

Mindful’s in the Music. ~ Sasha Aronson

Photo: Nicole Annen

Rock & Roll doesn’t often make an appearance in elephant journal; people don’t typically associate this genre of music with mindfulness. As foremost a fan of the genre, but also a musician myself, I know there’s something to it beyond vibrant sound. Music can transport, inspire, and center listeners in a way that’s not at all unlike yoga practice or meditation.

Blues, Hip Hop, Pop, Folk, you name it – there’s something to that music that touches people on a deep and inexplicable level. I recently spoke with some professional musicians to try to better understand why music has this effect on us. I see now that it makes perfect sense; talking with them helped me understand that music’s impact comes from intention, and the way it’s created in the first place.

For the band Dreams Are For Rookies, making music requires for them to be

introspective and mindful of [them]selves…and [to] take a moment to reflect.

The result of that reflection is the touching music they perform. You hear a song of theirs like “The Queen”, and sense that it comes from somewhere deep down. The music that touches us most deeply comes from a deep place in whomever is performing it. It’s hard to be more present than you are in moments when you take guitar in lap, pen to paper, and translate what’s going on inside for the purpose of sharing with others.

Another area Singer/Songwriter Emma Back puts it this way,

 It’s impossible to make music without being authentic.

While that’s not always the case for musicians these days, for many like Emma and Dreams, it’s quite obviously true. Authenticity is hard to fake; music that isn’t genuine is OK at best. With music that comes from a deep-down place, you can’t help but tap your feet, hum along, or just sit and feel the sound pour over you.  

You can carry on a conversation while not-so-good music is playing, focus on doing your taxes, daydream. When good music is playing, you feel it in the bottom of your stomach and in your chest, and while it plays you are just there, breathing, listening.

And just as people claim to be able to taste the love in mom’s cooking , or feel the intent behind someone’s words — pain, love, joy, anger all come through loud and clear from a good musician. That’s because a good musician composes and plays mindfully — playing what they mean, and meaning what they feel.

Music is wonderful because it urges you to share in someone’s mindfulness, to sit with them in a moment when they are digging down deep, and bringing you with them. A good musician’s joy or pain is so raw and available that you can’t help but travel to that place with them, and empathize. You share their mindfulness to the point that it extracts from you an awareness of your own; it dredges up thoughts and feelings you may not have known you have, not so differently from  any other mindful practice.

If you talk to Dreams, you’ll know within moments just how fun and kind-hearted they are. According to frontman Adam, it’s necessary to continually,

[take] self-inventory to find what brings you to center, so you can be a positive force in the world around you…otherwise there’s no use walkin’ out the front door.

The message they aim for is one of positivity and hope. So it makes sense that when I listen to them play, I feel happy and positive. Here, have a listen, and see for yourself.

The below video is for a song aptly named “The Cutest Freakin’ Song In the World.”



I’m grateful to Dreams are for Rookies and to musician Emma Back for taking the time to talk to me about mindfulness and their craft.


Sasha Aronson has a degree in Literature from Colby College. She has worked for publishers in the Big Apple, but prefers living mindfully and adventurously in Boulder, Colorado.

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