As we’ve explored before, the arts are an inspiring and accessible way to increase empathy. This article from Thrive Global looks at the concept of ‘conscious listening‘. Through music we can of course learn about a culture other than our own. But by sharing the music of others we can also strengthen bonds with and increase understanding of those around us.
Musicians create music that reflects life from their perspective. As listeners, we develop an affinity to music that makes us feel comfortable and often resist listening to music that makes us feel uncomfortable. However, being out of our comfort zone can open hidden pathways within us if we’re willing to expand our listening patterns and habits.
Years ago after taking my sons to school, I parked in the driveway and continued listening to their HALO video game soundtrack CD. It was mesmerizing – the heavy drum rhythms, expansive orchestration, full chorus and powerful guitar tracks unlocked hidden aspects I was surprisingly ready to explore. My natural tendency had been to resist listening to this type of forceful music as it felt invasive, overwhelming, and too intense. This day was different; I was ready to explore and feel my resistance. The result was an unexpected realization that all music has the potential to bring inner peace when we listen in a conscious way. The key is how we listen.
Society categorizes music in genres to help identify the aspects of life reflected in that sound – classical, rap, new age, metal, rock, blues, country, etc. It’s natural to listen to genres that feel most familiar to us. I admit, as a classically trained professional harpist, my musical tastes exploded when our two boys were old enough to call me out on my subconscious prejudices and racial assessments of the music they enjoyed. It was not comfortable to honestly explore my inner judgments but it was necessary if I wanted to develop a deeper sense of tolerance for the music my boys passionately listened to every day.