Gratitude through grief.

Gratitude through Grief

A beautiful colleague was reflecting recently that she had been surprisingly hard-hit by the passing of musician, Tom Petty.  Why, she wondered, was she so sad when she didn’t know the guy personally, and wasn’t even his number one fan?  Through a self-healing inquiry she discovered that an emotionally imprinted memory had been stored in her body in connection to Petty’s song, American Girl.  In her loving and brilliant way, she came to understand and then resolved her upset with the help of EFT tapping.  And interestingly, the emotion was connected to the music.

Hearing about my colleague’s experiences reminded me that is a game-changer for our brain.  From research on the Mozart effect in young children to Alzheimer’s therapy to bereavement journeys, regardless of the context, it is clear that music builds neural pathways in the brain.  One might also say that music builds emotional intelligence.

In his book, This Is Your Brain On Music (2006) Daniel Levitin explores the connection between music and the human brain.  He observes through his research that music seems to engage some of the same neural regions as language “but far more than language, music taps into primitive brain structures involved with motivation, reward, and emotion” (Levitin, 191).  So, like my colleague and her Tom Petty grief, “when we love a piece of music, it reminds us of other music we have heard, and it activates memory traces of emotional times in our lives.  Your brain on music is all about connections” (Levitin, 192). Maybe music helps you grieve, or celebrate, or be silly, or release anger, or be joyful.  The point is, music is powerful catalyst to accessing rich emotional information in our bodies and minds.

I think a lot of us are uncomfortable with grief.  But what if grief isn’t the end of the journey?  What if when we allow grief and patiently work through it, there is peace and gratitude on the other side?  And what if grief and gratitude are actually working together to remind us of what is important?  As we head into Thanksgiving weekend, maybe we might allow a moment of gratitude for our grief, and be thankful for the experience of being a whole human being.

Here are three pieces of music that I find very moving at this time of year.  Is it grief or is it gratitude that makes me become emotional?  For me it’s all a giving-thanks loop.

Mary Chapin Carpenter, Thanksgiving song

Josh Grobin, Thankful

Bing Crosby, Count Your Blessings

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving.

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