• Dark Room Sessions

Close your eyes. Focus your mind. Meditate to music.

We live in an era of decreasing attention spans, where the amount of information that is presented to the public means people now have more things to focus on – but often focus on things for short periods of time. Which is why I believe in finding and nurturing practices that will help with concentration and creativity, and just generally being able to unplug and unwind. Have you every stopped to think how many hours of the day your eyes spend open and in front of a screen? I’d be tempted to say it’s (sadly) at least a third of it. And that’s because another one of those 2/3, we are sleeping. Shutting your eyes means also shutting down your brain. And one of our favourite ways of doing this is by practising a truly therapeutic and meditative activity (yes, you guessed it!)... deep listening.

If you don’t mind me getting scientific for a sec, let me tell you a bit about what happens with the auditory skills of the visually impaired. I’ll make it short! The most important thing to point out is that the majority of studies in this area have reported that blind people have greater expertise in auditory tasks, including pitch discrimination (the ability to differentiate tones), verbal memory (the ability to recall sounds and words) and speech perception (the reference of a visual sensation to a definite locality in space).

Now, are you familiar with the amygdala? It’s the part of the brain that is associated with processing emotions and apparently, there’s a bond between this section of the brain and visual information, meaning your sight quickly signals emotional intent. If you’re next to someone who starts crying, you will see their sad face before you hear them cry. Or an angry face will trigger emotions in you at a different level than those triggered when hearing someone yelling. But for someone who is visually impaired, their amygdala activation in response to auditory stimuli is much higher than that to sighted people. When visual information is not available the amygdala switches its allegiance to interpreting auditory information.

Even though it is impossible for us to understand the experience of listening as a blind person, it is proved that sighted individuals experience greater amygdala activation to emotional music when their eyes are closed compared to when they are open.

And besides the scientific facts to prove it, I truly believe that when the lights are off the music reaches further into you. And by having this special connection with the music that is being played, you inevitable start to literally lose yourself in it. You start hearing individual sections of the orchestra or differentiate between certain pitches. You get a new perception in music.

During live music performances, we are constantly distracted by elaborate performances with dazzling lights, eye-popping visuals, and all sorts of bells and whistles. Even just the artists themselves, what they look like, how they play a certain instrument, how they interact and move on stage. And all of this influences people’s experience of the artist's music.

By turning off the lights, you turn off any distractions, hence allowing yourself to meditate to music. Have you ever tried this before? Here are some tips and a few tracks to start you off:

1) Grab your best set of headphones or speakers.

2) Close the bedroom door.

3) Pick your track or album.

4) Lay down or sit somewhere comfortably.

5) Close all curtains and turn off all the lights.

6) Put your phone on airplane mode and hide it in a drawer (if you have to use your phone to listen to music, set it to Do Not Disturb mode and place it as far away as possible, face down)

7) Hit play.

Our number one platform is, of course, our Virtual Darkroom, where we've tried to replicate what goes on during our live sessions.

Here are some other albums I recommend to dive into deep listening:

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Saint-Saëns - Le Carnaval des Animaux (The Carnival of the Animals) (1886)

Brian Eno – New Space Music (2014)

Fishmans - Long Season (1996)

Give up. Let go. Things may be falling apart, but there’s still music.

© 2020 by Dark Room Sessions