February 22, 2021

Music as Therapy

Pick a song with a simple melody that feels comforting to your body. It can be anything - a hymn, a gospel tune, a lullaby, a military march, a punk rock song. Hum it all the way through from beginning to end from your belly. When you're done, stop and pay attention to your body. - from My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem

Menakem explains to his readers that simple practices like humming, rocking, singing, and chanting can be a way to help regulated the soul nerve aka the vagas nerve. The soul nerve is where we experience the raw human emotions of fear, anger, excitement, joy, grief, disgust and sexual excitement. When we perceive that we're in danger, the soul nerve primes the body for fight, flight, freeze. The soul nerve can also communicate to body when we are feeling safe so that body can relax and settle.

I'm finding myself humming, singing and listening to music as a way to calm my soul nerve throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, I reached out to my friends and family to ask for song recommendations. I wanted to know what songs they were listening to; what songs were speaking to their soul nerve in gentle ways.

Here's a sampling of their recommendations: