In celebration of National Wellness Month, Ofosu and Leah (and some special guests) want to help you make wellness a priority in your life. So each week in August, they’ll announce a new wellness challenge for you to try with them.
This week, Ofosu and Leah discuss the impact listening to music—and dancing to it—can have on your mood and reveal the first Wellness Month challenge.
Tune in next Monday to hear how the challenge went for them, and don’t forget to share your experience, too. You can email a voice memo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can participate when prompted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, or you can even tag @balance on a post on your personal account. The more you participate, the more you increase your chances to be featured in next week's episode!
Well Balanced is co-hosted by the expert meditation coaches of Balance. Balance is a highly personalized meditation and sleep app that's been named Google's App of the Year and Apple's App of the Day. Completely free for the entire first year, Balance is helping 3 million+ people around the world improve their stress, sleep, focus, and mood. Unlock your free year of Balance today by downloading it from the App Store or Play Store.
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OFOSU: Hey, what's up. I'm Ofosu Jones Quartey, and
LEAH: I'm Leah Santa Cruz. We're the meditation coaches on the Balance App.
OFOSU: And this is our weekly show. Well Balanced. Hey Leah, how you feeling?
LEAH: I'm feeling pretty good.
OFOSU: Nice. Nice. How are you? I'm excited. Cause we're doing something special this month and why don't you tell everyone about it?
LEAH: That's right. August is National Wellness month in the US, and we're gonna be celebrating it worldwide on this show by giving ourselves and you a new wellness challenge every week, this month. So these are gonna be quick tasks, things that can change your behaviors so that you can make wellness more of a priority in your life.
OFOSU: We not only want to dig into the science behind why all these things are worth trying, but we wanna put 'em to the tests and see if they actually help us. And we wanna see if they help y'all. So each week we'll let y'all know how the challenge went for us, and we want you to share your experiences with us too.
Do they really help in your wellness journey? Email us a voice memo or share with us on social media and we're gonna feature your experiences on our social accounts. And also we'll give you some shoutouts right here on the show. So we've got some more details on how to keep us updated in the show notes, and I'm excited for this.
LEAH: I can't wait to hear what y'all get outta the challenges this month.
OFOSU: Our challenges this month are gonna come from some very cool guests. But right now, today I have a challenge in mind and I'm gonna kick us off. Does that sound alright? Yeah.
LEAH: Okay. What's the challenge this week?
OFOSU: I challenge you and myself and the Balance community to do nothing while listening to one of your favorite songs and then notice how you feel.
LEAH: Well, this doesn't seem too hard listening to one of your favorite songs. Like that's pretty enjoyable actually. Now that I think about it, I mean, I don't actually listen to music that much anymore without doing something else. Like, I remember being a teenager just like on my bed with my, you know, my Walkman or whatever, listening to music. But nowadays that's like, I'm always busy doing other things.
OFOSU: Yeah. I'm always listening to music and doing something like I'm either driving or working out or cooking or something.
So I put on my Leah hat and I did some research into this and, um, you'll be proud of me. One of the things I found out is that one of the first things that happens when music first enters the brain is the triggering of the pleasure centers in the brain that release dopamine. And for anybody that might not be familiar, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy.
It's the happy juice. The response when this happens is so quick that the brain can even anticipate the most pleasurable peaks in the familiar music and kind of like get itself ready with an early dopamine rush. It's crazy. Wow.
LEAH: That's pretty intense.
OFOSU: Yeah. And, and have you ever heard, like, a song that you, that you may kind of know, but you can almost feel like what's coming next.
You know what I'm saying?
LEAH: Yeah. Like you anticipate it. There's um, there's also something really cool called, uh, ‘freeso’ it's a French word and, um, it describes when we get those goosebumps. When we listen to like a piece of music like Lady Gaga singing in the National Anthem in the middle of Superbowl, like that was a big one that a lot of people experienced though.
And it's this sudden change in expectation that can make that happen. So like a lot of times I think we are anticipating how the music is gonna go. And then when it surprises us like the Star Wars Anthem or something, you know, that's like, It's an exciting surprise and change and expectation.
That gives us those goosebumps and like the chills through our body. I love when that happens, when a piece of music can do that, it's so crazy how our brains work.
OFOSU: You just bringing it up is making it happen for me. Like in like this like light way, going back and remembering Lady Gaga, singing anything will do that to me, but um, we have to listen to that again.
LEAH: I mean, you get off this cuz there's a point where you'll feel like a rolling chill that like moves through your spine, like a wave and, and then the hairs will raise up on your body. And you're like, whoa.
OFOSU: I mean, listen to how we're talking about it. We're both getting a little like pepped up by it.
That stuff's good for you. And that's why we're doing this challenge. Just so another study I saw was that like energetic and rhythmic music is, um, reported to help with the what's called up regulation of positive emotions. Mm-hmm and to like, down regulate negative emotions, basically to help us feel more balanced and music like blues and jazz, which is a, like the foundation for like all American music.
Um, but these particular art forms that are reflective and complex, um, are also really great for helping us balance our emotions.
LEAH: So, it said that Bob Marley's music is like the happiest music possible to listen to because of the rhythm and the beats somehow like the way it affects our brains.
OFOSU: I wouldn't be surprised. There's not a bad Bob Marley's song. No, again, just thinking about it makes me feel good.
LEAH: Oh gosh, I'm gonna play some Bob Marley today.
OFOSU: For sure. I mean, yeah. What do you play to put you in a good mood?
LEAH: Hmm, good question. I really like world music.
I really love music that has West African beats to it. Like drum beats. That makes me really happy inside for some reason. I tend to listen to a lot of meditation music, which is very relaxing and soothing, but as far as like getting excited, I mean maybe some Beyonce.
OFOSU: I also listen to a lot of meditative music. Um, Alice Coltrane is a huge, musical influence of mine. I remember when I was in high school, it was the blizzard of 96 and I was in high school and it was the worst time of my, of my young adolescent life. And then we were all snowed in and it was just terrible.
And there's an album called The Gentle Side of John Coltrane that my Dad had. And listening to that album, that album probably saved my life that winter, like, oh, it really just comforted me. And there were songs that could echo my emotions, but there were also songs that just made me feel like that really just relaxed my nervous system and made me feel cared for and it's funny because it's such a special and beautiful project that I can listen to it now.
And it connected to any of those negative feelings from back then, like having a totally new experience with it. But in that time it completely came to my rescue.
LEAH: I'm looking at my Spotify right now. Just like, what music am I listening to? Like yesterday I was listening to Booze BAJI. I don't know if you've ever heard them before, but it's like, it's like kind of background music, but it's kind of funky.
OFOSU: Do you dance?
LEAH: Yeah, I do dance around a little bit.
OFOSU: I can imagine you holding Luca and just kind of bouncing around. So I listen to this playlist while I was working out today, and you're listening to music while you're holding Luca and doing stuff.
So I feel like this challenge, I think that's how most people listen to music, unless you're at a concert. Right? Like most people are listening to music and doing other stuff at the same time.
LEAH: I like listening to music when driving or, um, like in those kinds of down times, I don't have a lot of tasks in front of me to get done.
Yeah. When I'm in work mode, I'll listen to music that isn't too lyrical or too distracting. I think those are probably like the times when I find myself listening to music honestly, is likewhen I'm traveling and when I'm working.
OFOSU: When I was a kid, I'd go and I’d get like the new Wu-Tang CD.
And, it would be my entire world, that moment of going and getting the CD and opening it and taking out the liner notes. Do you have a moment where music has helped, get through time or it was a companion for you?
LEAH: You know, it's funny because I keep uh, like a Spotify playlist, probably since 2013, I've been doing this, um, every year.
It's the songs that I'm listening to the most that year. And then I go back and I listen to like, what was I listening to in 2013 or 2014 or 15, 16, 17. It's interesting. Cause I can feel there's a different mood to each one of them. And I remember what was going through my life at the time and some of them were a lot more peppy, sounding music.
And then other ones were like, just a lot deeper. And maybe even some like darker music that was reflecting, you know, some pain I was going through, um, some challenges and I think music in that way, um, has been something like. Times when I'm going through something challenging, I will tend to either find music that reflects that challenge somehow in the lyrics or in the tone, or is music that is really, um, more meditative and soothing that can kind of nourish my heart.
And so it's interesting for me to listen back to the playlist. It's almost like the soundtrack of my life. It's really profound to kind of think back like, wow, this music was helping me at that time. Um, and I can't say there's a particular song that did it for me.
There's so many studies, where they put some salt on top of a speaker or some sand, and then they blast the, um, the vibrations of the, of the music through. And then you see that the sand takes form. So sound vibrations. You know, this may sound a little out there for some people, but like sound vibrations actually turn matter into form.
It's like the matter behaves, according to the frequency of sound and it's called somatic. It's like geometry through vibration. So the vibration of sound changes water into like snowflakes and it changes matter or sand into like these really interesting formations. It's beautiful.
Um, and it's interesting. Cause if sound can turn that to matter into water, what are we made out of? Bam. It makes sense to say that sound has such a profound impact on our bodies and that it has an impact on our hearts, you know, and, and humans have known about this for a long time. Even the ancient Grisha and Egyptian pyramid chambers, um, or even like the lesser known pyramids around the world, have been found to have this pitch perfect resonance, and they think that they were used for, for healing, um, that the frequency waves would help heal people on a molecular level.
OFOSU: This as a musician, this topic is like, I could talk about this forever. While I was in France, we visited a thousand year old church called the Mumbo Church. And, um, apparently it was built out of a, like a Celtic, uh, ceremonial room. And the acoustics in that space are so incredible. Um, and yeah, you find that sound has been directly connected to healing and spirituality and just raising human consciousness for forever.
So now, you know, we're definitely getting into a rabbit hole, but it just speaks to like the power of sound. So knowing how powerful it all is, I think that we should give ourselves the gift of our presence when taking in music.
And that's a big part of the challenge to just really be concious. Mindful eating, for instance, you're slowing down. Noticing the taste and texture and smells and everything about your food and you're taking it in and really feeling that, oh, this is a wonderful multilayered experience.
So let's try to do the same thing with music. Um, just really not multitasking, sit down, pick one song and let yourself focus and, and feel like the effect of that - notice how that makes you feel.
LEAH: I, uh, I think that that is such a meditative, uh, approach to listening to music and to noticing how the vibration moves through, uh, your body.
Can you hear, can you sense the sound vibration even more than just in your ears, but through your skin? And how does it make your body wish to move? And notice there, notice where the very beginnings of that urge is to move. Where does it come from? Does it come from your hips? Does it come from your heart, your chest, your belly, does it like, does it move through you like a wave or does it feel effervescent?
Is it like, do you wanna stomp your feet on the ground and get grounded, or do you wanna throw your hands up in the air and get more connected to the sky? Like what is the, what is the, uh, instinct for you? So I think that that's a fun way to meditate and then just dance till you drop.
OFOSU: I'm in Michigan right now. And I'm, co-leading a mindfulness retreat for teenagers. And, um, I gave a talk this evening and it was, you know, it was one I always want to tell people to love and be kind to themselves. So it was one of my please love and be kind to yourselves talk. And, um, and afterwards, uh, turned on, um, turned on a song and I did not expect people to get up and start dancing, but it just happened.
Folks just felt moved to move and it was pretty wonderful to see it happened collectively. And it was just another example of, um, how music can kind of like add punctuation to a moment.
LEAH: I think you'd be hard pressed to find somebody who didn't feel better after they were dancing.
OFOSU: Funny you should mention that because I read another study.
I've really put on my researcher cap for this topic. So another study showed that people who dance and actively engage with music were found to be happier than other people who didn't engage with music in that way. So the people who actually danced and went to concerts and went to different music events had significantly higher subjective wellbeing.
So that's their own evaluations of their life satisfaction, then those who didn't. And I thought that was pretty crazy.
LEAH: Yeah. That's all the more reason to go to concerts. Hey Ofosu, can you give us that challenge one more time?
OFOSU: Yes, I can. So Leah and all of you listening myself included in the next week, try to do nothing while listening to one of your favorite songs and notice how you feel and let us know how this affects your mood and, and we'd be so curious to know what song you're listening to.
So email us a voice memo, talking about how this practice worked for you at Well Balanced, balanceapp.com or you can submit a response to us via social media. We're gonna be putting out a post during the week on Balance’s, Instagram story on Facebook and on Twitter gonna be asking you to let us know how this challenge went.
So please look out for that and be sure to submit your responses. You can find our handles and the email in the show notes.
LEAH: I think I know what I'm gonna listen to. I think I'm gonna listen to the Funky Duck by Wolfpack.
OFOSU: Oh, that sounds awesome.
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LEAH: Yeah, I'm actually really looking forward to this challenge, Ofosu um, but we're gonna be back next week.
We're gonna be chatting about how it went for us and have some recordings and shout outs from you out there and how it went for you. We're gonna see what we can all learn from each other and maybe we'll even be exposed to some new cool music. And then we're gonna announce our next weekly challenge for National Wellness month for you all to try.
OFOSU: Yeah. Sounds awesome. And for y'all out there, if you wanna stay up to date with our show, please subscribe or follow on your favorite podcast app and enjoy. Doing nothing while listening to your favorite song. Woo! Have fun. Until then don't forget to be kind to yourself and we'll see you later. Bye.
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