Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Why I promised myself never to write another sad song ever again!

People often ask me what led to my transition from singing popular music, to the spiritual music I now produce, which is centered mostly around sanskrit mantras and positive messages of healing. I had a few reasons at the time, but the one that stuck out the most for me was related to the mind and how it works.

I ran a hypnotherapy practice in London for close on five years. I used many tools such as coaching, NLP (neurolinguistic programming) and hypnosis to enable people to enhance their performance, shift patterns and heal themselves. Through my experience of working with thousands of clients in this way, I came to deeply understand the power of the spoken word partnered with the unconscious mind and how when in a very relaxed state one could easily pick up overt as well as subliminal messages positive and not so positive.  Over time, these messages would certainly become part of the infrastructure of that individual's inner world. 

Hence the old adage " You become what you focus on" but additionally I like to add " and you also become what you immerse yourself in".

Interestingly, much of the programming that adults, teenagers and now even children receive, comes through advertising and of course through the lyrics of popular music which they hear every day on radio and television - and the constant repetition thereof. This kind of repetition is a major tool of the advertising industry as it suits the nature of these channels, which we will all agree, is with a view to generating bigger and better sales.  However, is it always wise to conclude that the advertising industry has the best interests of the consumer at heart? And would you knowingly hand your 'mind' over to them, considering what drives their marketing strategies?

Food for thought and perhaps the subject of a note for the future, however, let's direct our attention back to the mind for now. 

Have you ever had an ear worm? A song that gets stuck on repeat in your head and becomes an annoying internal replay for hours, sometimes days at a time?  The influential power of music to imprint on and affect the human nervous system and neural pathways of the brain is largely underestimated and under researched.  Not only are we visual creatures but our next most valued information input modality is sound.  In fact, often you will be sure to hear something long before you see it coming.

NLP is one of the easiest and most widespread methods of persuasion, especially for those not aware of its effect on the mind. Familiar things require less effort to process and that feeling of ease unconsciously signals a sort of 'truth', often called 'cognitive fluency'. Basically what you have heard before makes it easier to believe the more often you hear it. 

This fluency allows effortless thinking, because when you are thinking about something that is easy to process, you will tend to reason quickly and effortlessly. This isn’t necessarily a good or a bad thing, but one standard effect of human nature.  This kind of automatic thinking means that we tend to go for the default option or what we already know. 

Consider how you were taught to study at school, and the little tricks you used to remember things. Acronyms and other words games gave your mind the opportunity to connect short easy phrases with letters and words that were easy to remember.  And then you had to just keep repeating it to yourself until it stuck!

Is it just me getting old, or is much of popular music these days quite repetitive?  Take for instance the following example on Nicky Manaj's track 'Stupid Hoe'.

The Chorus or "Hook" as it's called in popular music, goes like this:

You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe [x3]
You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)

Scource: http://www.metrolyrics.com

Short easy sentences that create a platform for easy memory retention. Hence these sentences become almost like mantras or affirmations for the mind.  These kinds of lyrics initiate that part of the brain that operates below the level of conscious awareness, because those lines are quick, effortless and automatic.  Even more reason for a songwriter with any ethics who is going to create simple lyrics in music, to pick their message carefully. 

Now I certainly do not advocate dogmatism of any sort and I certainly  know for sure that this is not an accurate representation of all popular music out there. There are definitely some beautiful pieces of music and lyrics out there that are uplifting and which give people a sense of hope and inspired motivation with their messages. However even a sad song that outlines the end of a relationship perhaps, and that heartbreak for instance - or something deep that people can relate to - those words and the feelings they illicit will keep bringing people back into that set of traumatic memories every time they hear it. The body will always release the same signature of chemicals into the body so that it feels as though you are reliving that experience. Powerful enough to illicit memories that will make you cry, make you laugh, and for some it will revert them back into victim mode!  Would you believe that those chemicals can become quite addictive! People who are apparently addicted to drama are really addicted to the adrenaline that is released into the bloodstream then the drama occurs.

Then, if repeated enough, those electrical impulses in the brain will become the default for that person's behavior patterns. 

Because music enables subliminal messaging to pass into the unconscious mind far more easily, as a musician, and later a yogi, I began to recognise that I have a great responsibility to guard the safety of those minds that entrust themselves to my music!

Another point worth considering was that I would be programming my own mind every time I sang one of my songs!  Every one of my songs that I repeat becomes my personal mantra.  I noticed this because almost seven years later, the things I had written about in songs from my commercial music career, were still happening to me! I realised that I was perpetuating that reality everytime I sang it with all my heart, and that I alone was responsible for creating my future!

So I made myself a promise about 4 years ago that I would never write another sad or depressing song. It was a real challenge in the beginning! For most artists that feeling of misery can be very inspiring!!

So keep it positive and make sure that the music you listen to will serve to generate the reality you want...not the reality you wish to let go of. Consider what you are filling your mind with the next time you switch on the radio or TV and make sure you are immersing yourself in the sounds and pictures that will serve to empower you, not to break you down or keep you trapped in a pattern of victimhood.

Sarab Deva x

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