Words of Wellness: 'Your Playlist Can Change Your Life'

It’s a familiar sight:  People walking down the street with their headphones on, jamming to their favorite tunes while walking to their next location.  Apparently, what songs you put on your iPod can do more for you than just keep you entertained during your morning commute.

Dr. Galina Mindlin details many different ways you can harness the power of your favorite songs in her book, 'Your Playlist Can Change Your Life.'  Along with her co-authors Don DuRousseau and Joseph Cardillo, Mindlin outlines ways to train your brain when listening to music to relieve stress, improve your memory and even overcome tragic life events.

Q: What first got you interested in studying the effects of music on the body?

A: For me, it started a long time ago, when I first started practicing brain music therapy - where you can translate your own brain waves into music and play it back for yourself.  Eventually my collaborators and I, all three of us together really decided how we can use music and how we can bring awareness to the public to use it more broadly.  For brain music treatment, you have to come to the office and see the brain practitioner.  But with a playlist, everyone can create one on their own to create the optimal mindset.

The inspiring fact is that [music is] very simple to use, it doesn’t have side effects, and it’s something we already use in our lives. It can be applied with a little bit of guidance to lower anxiety, improve mood, increase concentration, etc.  There are so many things you can do with music.

Q: What was the collaboration and research gathering process like?

A: This has been a great collaboration.  One of the authors, Don Durousseau, is a neuroscientist and we’ve been doing research together for some time.  Then our third author, Joseph Cardillo, is a psychologist, so it brought us a very well-rounded, nice collaboration process.

I like clinical work and research, and what I think is the most important is research you can apply.  This is something you can definitely apply to your patients.  Everyone listens to music.

Q: Just how prevalent is music in our everyday lives?

A: Start from the moment you’re up.  A lot of us have wake-up songs to get us out of bed.  Then it depends on what we do.  Either we drive to work or we walk.  A lot of people put on earphones, and this is a very nice way to start your playlist for the day.

Then you’re at the job or doing chores, and then you can choose what exactly will put you in an optimum mind set.  If you just got a promotion or got a difficult phone call, you really need to reset your mind.  When you come home, you can put some kind of playlist together to be stimulating.  Or if you need to relax, put together some soothing music for yourself.  It truly is everywhere.

On our website, we’ll be putting up a common file or common frequency.  After doing brain music treatment with over 2,000 people in the U.S., we found the most common frequencies, which create the most optimal state of mind.  That’s something we’ll put on our website so people can download and use for themselves.

Q: What were some of the long-term benefits of music therapy?

A: If you have to go through a stressful time or tragic time, some people actually got through solely on music alone.  But it’s something you have to define for yourself.  What exactly would you play to get you out of it?  For example, we spoke with a Russian figure skater whose husband – also a figure skater – died tragically young while he was training for competition.  They used to be partners, so she described that listening to the symphony that they danced to together actually helped her get out of this severe loss.

Q: What is the main take away from the book?

A: Mostly, I would like people to keep the songs they love.  No matter what they would like to achieve with their playlist – relieve anxiety, sharpen memory – they have to pick up songs they like and then pay attention to how they’re feeling when they hear those certain songs.  It depends on your state of mind.

Your associated memory has to come into play.  Then you have to look for a specific song that would improve your memory, enhance your mind.  So driving to work, waking up, exercising, we just want people to create their own personal playlist.  You have to give your mind a chance to remember the song.  Train your mind the way you train a muscle in the gym.