Music can support a person’s recovery in fascinating and transformative ways. Many elements of musicality work to focus one’s attention and energy outside the ‘self’, which can have healing properties for the body, mind and soul.


How to incorporate music into a recovery process

Some people consider music to be a universal language, one which crosses barriers of culture, race, and gender fluidly. It has the capability of soothing one’s mood, bringing peace and calm, or increasing the capacity for great endurance to do many things such as dance, exercise, and work. Something about the soul of music taps into a primal part of the human psyche. Different instruments evoke a variety of sensations from blues to jazz, rock ‘n’ roll to pop, and various cultural music around the world.  It plays a transcendental role for religious ceremonies and serves as background noise in modern day cafés and shopping malls.  Practicing a musical instrument can serve as a great therapy aid for those in recovery from addiction.


Tips for incorporating music into your recovery process

Find the right time of day to practice. Some people are early birds, others are most energized at night. Develop a schedule and routine. It may be helpful to start with morning, just after getting out of bed before the hectic day begins. Find a place that is grounding, peaceful and quiet.


Begin with some simple breathing exercises to bring awareness to the body. Once awake, the body tends to begin processing what is happening around you at a faster rate. Spend a few moments to build mindfulness into the day, it can be very healthy in recovery. Take a few deep, slow, long breaths. Release them slowly. Do this for three to five minutes, clearing all thoughts. It may be necessary to keep paper and pen handy to write down anything which comes to mind to release it before going back to the practice.


Pick up an instrument. A guitar, piano, or hand drum can be easiest to get started. Notice posture and physical alignment. Maintain open breathing, letting it flow freely, and flex the fingers in and out, shaking the wrists and rotating the shoulders one at a time forward and back to release any tension.


Play without thinking, at least at first. There is a tendency in addiction recovery to focus on failures, faults, and missed opportunities. Take a moment while playing an instrument to not think, rather just play. Catharsis comes from the act of just doing, being present and not worrying about ‘getting it right.’ If there is inclination, pick up some musical scales or sheet music to play.

Notice what happens after twenty or so minutes of practice. Let the music move and heal the mind, body, and soul for those moments. Breathe deeply with a slow intake and release of air from the lungs. This helps circulate oxygen to the blood which can relieve stress and anxiety. Remember this feeling with a focus on what brings joy and healing as it will bring the most benefit throughout the entire recovery process.


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