Why Some Music Gives you Goosebumps
There is a word that describes this common human response to music--a word for "that moment" when a song pierces your body and soul. It's called "frisson," and it's the reason why music from artists as seemingly disparate as Johnny Cash, Metallica, Céline Dion, and Mozart are all featured on a recently released, scientifically-backed playlist of songs that researchers claim are likely to give people "chills." The 715-song playlist was curated by a team of neuroscientists and is available on Spotify.
"Frisson" derives from French and is "a sudden feeling or sensation of excitement, emotion or thrill," and the experience is not confined to music. Historically, frisson has been used interchangeably with the term "aesthetic chills." According to a 2019 study, one can experience frisson when staring at a brilliant sunset or a beautiful painting; when realizing a deep insight or truth; when reading a particularly resonant line of poetry; or when watching the climax of a film.
In his 2006 book Sweet Anticipation, musicologist David Huron offers a compelling explanation for why we experience such powerful responses to music. He calls it "contrastive valence theory," in which feeling states are strongly influenced by contrast. "If we initially feel bad, and then we feel good, the good feeling tends to be stronger than if the good experience occurred without the preceding bad feeling." This is due to a regulatory process called "cognitive appraisal," in which our minds use cognitive and linguistic processes to reframe the meaning of a stimulus. Huron uses the idea of a surprise party to illustrate this phenomenon:
"When a person is unexpectedly surprised by her friends, the first response is one of terror: her eyelids retract and her jaw drops. But within half a second, fear is replaced by happy celebration as the individual recognizes her friends and the positive social meaning of the event." According to Huron, when the appraisal response confirms that there is no threat, contrastive valence transforms the negative feelings into something positive.
On the Spotify playlist for frisson, consider Metallica's "Master of Puppets". It is understandable if your immediate emotional reaction to the song's shocking intro is one of fear and foreboding. But thanks to "cognitive reappraisal," that initial adrenaline rush can be transformed into something positive when you realize that you are safe, and that it is music making you feel this way.
Our minds, which evolved to predict future outcomes to ensure our survival, are always anticipating how something will play out. And when our initial predictions are wrong, depending on the situation, we can feel anything from anger to surprise to frisson.
Consider the soaring choruses in Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" or Adele's "Hello" or John Lennon's screams on The Beatles' "Twist & Shout" (all featured on the playlist). Or listen to Merry Clayton's legendary backing vocals on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter."
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Mind-Body Approaches to Pain Management
Psychological treatments are a key component of pain management. The most common psychological intervention for pain is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), according to the review in The Lancet. This method involves identifying and replacing beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that otherwise make pain worse--like thinking your pain is "unbearable" or "will never end." Having these unhelpful reactions is called "catastrophizing," and they can literally, physiologically increase pain intensity. "The brain responds by shifting pain levels higher and increasing inflammatory markers in the body," according to Eve Kennedy-Spaien, an occupational therapist at the Chronic Pain Neurorehabilitation Program at Cleveland Clinic.
For example, a study of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) presented in June 2021 at the annual conference of the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) concluded that people who are most extreme when describing pain levels are less likely to have their disease in remission compared with those who don't (34 percent versus 70).
But these reactions to pain aren't inevitable. "We have to teach the brain that chronic pain is like an alarm that just keeps going off. It doesn't necessarily signal danger," Kennedy-Spaien says. Calm the mind and the alarm subsides, and often the chronic pain along with it.
Kennedy-Spaien says patients may also find benefits from biofeedback and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), techniques that also train the mind to reframe. Other modalities that have been shown to be effective in reducing brain activity around some types of chronic pain are pain reprocessing therapy (PRT) and pain neuroscience education, which use education and psychological techniques to retrain the brain to better respond to bodily signals and encourage positive sensations and feelings instead. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in December 2021 found PRT eliminated or nearly eliminated chronic low back pain in two-thirds of participants.
Improving your daily health habits is something every pain expert agrees is key, Steven P. Cohen, MD, chief of pain medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, says. "Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, staying active, and not smoking" should be on the top of every pain patient's to-do list, he says. Exercise is especially important. Although years ago, pain patients were instructed to take to bed, doctors now know that movement is a crucial component for healing the body and the mind. "There's a widespread consensus that exercise seems to be beneficial across the board," and especially for musculoskeletal conditions and nociplastic pain, Cohen says.
Many pain patients find relief by doing yoga, a practice that soothes both the body and the mind. Research shows the benefits for pain mostly derive from the fact that it is a form of exercise, the review in The Lancet noted, so if yoga is not appealing, taking up any activity is fine.
Changing up your diet can also be surprisingly effective: Research confirms that dietary changes have pain relieving effects. A review published in 2020 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, for example, shows that plant-based diets especially reduce musculoskeletal pain. The same review found reducing fat and sugar aids "wear and tear" osteoarthritis.
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3 Biggest Myths About Meditation
(from Kate Spina, Meditation Teacher, Los Angeles)
These myths are so pervasive that they keep people from utilizing this crucial wellness tool. As scientific research continues to show the benefits of meditation, it's important to dispel these myths, so more folks can access this important practice.
Myth 1: "I can't meditate" - You can't meditate YET. Often "I can't meditate." is followed by, "I went to this class one time." or "I don't like savasana at the end of yoga." These are singular or particular experiences that were challenging, but that doesn't translate to the whole field of meditation being out of your capacity forever. If I sat down at a piano for the first time and made a cacophonous noise it would be illogical for me to assume that meant I could never do it. And a huge part of why this myth is pervasive is because of a lack of understanding of what meditation actually is, which brings us to myth number two.
Myth 2: "I can't clear my mind" - Mindfulness, which is a predominate meditation technique in our culture (and my primary practice), has nothing to do with "clearing" the mind. The goal of mindfulness is to witness phenomena (body sensations, sounds, thoughts, etc.) as it arises and passes away in the present moment experience without judgment. Often, and especially at the beginning of practice, it is hard to watch the flow of sensation without attaching to specific thoughts or experiences or judging how much is really happening in the mind. It can be overwhelming.
This does not mean you are doing mediation wrong. The mind thinks. It's just what it does. That is not a problem. The difficulty comes when we attach too deeply to our thoughts. As we practice more we begin to witness thoughts and see that they arise and pass away. We cultivate a wiser relationship with the thinking mind. So, if we understand that meditation is not "clearing" the mind and that we do actually have the capacity to do it, what gets in the way?
Myth 3: "I don't have time to meditate" - We have busy full lives, with so many things pulling at our time. So many aspects of our day can feel mandatory so that we often do not feel like we have agency over our own time. So when we choose to commit to meditation, we're often having to prioritize it over something else that we maybe feel like we should be doing instead. So, yes, we're busy, and yes, there is still time in the day to meditate. But, it requires choosing it, committing to it, and prioritizing it. That choice is not an easy one to make. The fruits of meditation practice unfold differently in each of us, so it can feel like we're not getting results as quickly as we would like. There were huge chunks of time in the beginning of my practice where it felt like every meditation was just my mind telling me all the things I should be doing instead.
What kept me committed? There were people around me clearly benefiting from the practice. I could see the possibilities of it. I had tried so many other tools to help increase my well-being and this was something I could do that didn't require anything except my willingness, and a quiet-ish space to practice. And as I have stuck with it I have seen innumerable benefits in my relationship to myself and to others.
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Health & Healing Hack of the Week
Originally, two-pointing was delineated by Dr. Richard Bartlett as part of his body of work called "Matrix Energetics", and covered at length in his book by the same name. Two Pointing is a way to collapse an energy blockage by using two index fingers touching two points around an injured or painful area of the body. Do this using several different points. By putting the attention on two points simultaneously, it collapses the "standing wave" that is blocking or inhibiting energy flows across the painful area. I like to use this technique along with My Liquid Fish and Take It Away. Great first aid! Entertaining note: I also tried it on my wallet--and it worked! -- From 25 No Cost Health & Healing Hacks by Boyd Martin)
Quantum Healer of the Week
Sherry Mosley has a Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine, is a Certified Shamanic Akashic Healing Practitioner and Counselor and a Certified Reiki Master and is a Psychic Medium since birth. She has a M.S. in Oriental Medicine: Chinese & Japanese Medicine, Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College, B.A. in Art/Computer Graphics, Biology, Holistic Health, San Francisco State University and University of California Santa Cruz; Certificates & Training in Akashic Records and Arcturian Healing Method, Shamanic Healing & Counseling Certificates, Five Element Acupuncture Diagnosis Certification, Reiki with Shamanism Level III/Master Certificate. Sherry is a Northern California native from San Francisco. She is an old soul, Indigo, starseed, psychic medium, and channel who comes from a long line of intuitive healers and medicine women which has made her naturally clairvoyant, clairaudient and clairsentient. It has been a journey of surrender and discovery that has brought her here today as the healing practitioner, teacher and author she is today. "Balance comes within first and without will follow. Our health is a reflection of this balance, our state of being. Reflections of imbalance felt as illness are mere signs or callings to rebalance and reconnect. Many ancient healing practices seek to balance the body, mind and spirit while more esoteric forms of healing look to heal and align life spiritually on the level of the soul and its highest purpose in connection with Source/All That Is. When there is personal balance amongst body, mind, spirit and soul, the returned connection of soul to Source/All That Is, there is well being and a balanced and well state of health." WEBSITE
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