By Ezlyh Gutierrez
Why do I need this?
As human beings, we are prone to fall victim to many emotional obstacles throughout this adventure we have nicknamed existence. These obstacles can very from anger to love, from sorrow to delusional euphoria and from depression to anxiety. And just like any other obstacle course, we start to judge our ability of have a successful ending when we find certain aspects of our journey to be overwhelming, confusing or dark.
There is so much baggage that we all carry in our everyday lives, so much, in fact, our minds begin to numb out important human emotions and bury them under deadlines, appointments, decisions and coffee. We are conditioned to find some way to continue to be progressive, sacrificing our happiness now in order to reach happiness in the future, only to find out that it is a never-ending cycle. Ugh.
Now, we are stuck with running minds that can’t stop. Beating ourselves up every time we slow down; but, similar to when we run, we begin to feel drained, an astounding sensation of fatigue, legs and surrounding muscles cramping, pulsing, begging for your body to collapse on the cold concrete.
That is your mind and soul when you push yourself through this never-ending cycle of existence. But in order to truly better yourself among all this craziness, sometimes you need to stop everything and take a walk.
Why in the woods? Why music?
One of the easiest and most overlooked ways to heal our cramped psyche is to replace the people around us with florescent shades of greens and grays, and replace the feeling of a keyboard under our fingers with the sensation of a tender breeze. Nature in particular has an alluring effect on us; it gently sets off a “rest and digest” mode in our body, the opposite of “fight or flight.” However, throughout evolution we have been separated from our natural roots, so it takes quite a while for a Zen mindset to truly set in while walking in the wilderness. But, something that can help immensely is placing our minds in a setting of comfort and familiarity. The reason humans are so naturally drawn to music is because, from the womb, we find comfort in a steady beat.
Here in central Texas, we are fortunate enough to have local, captivating greenery. Barton Creek in Austin, Lower and Upper Purgatory in San Marcos, Orange Trail in Kyle, etc. Being right next to the music capital of the world, gives us familiarity to appreciate the benefits of a good tune. Let’s take these two prosperities and use them to our advantage. Let’s use them to, for once, chill.
Three albums, three different atmospheres.
Keaton Henson – Romantic works
Keaton Henson is a visual artist and poet, originating from London, England. In Romantic works, a collaboration with notorious cellist Ren Ford who creates a tranquilizing atmosphere as each note arising from his strings naturally blend into a tender tune as Henson creates an alluring landscape in your mind each time he lays his fingers on his piano keys. The vibe that arises from this album is very similar to that of a movie soundtrack, and that is the reason it has made my list. It is soothing enough to sedate the mind, yet familiar enough to give you the ability to create a storyline in your head as you walk through the hush swaying trees, hearing each song one right after another, creating a very therapeutic experience.
Ólafur Arnolds – Trance Frendz
This album is another example of what beautiful outcomes can arise when two talented musicians come together in harmony. Ólafur Arnolds, a multi-instrumentalist and producer originating from Iceland, and Nils Frahm, a German composer based in Berlin come together to create an album that presents sounds even they themselves are unfamiliar with. Trance Frendz is essentially an improvisation; it is unorganized, bizarre, placid, and serene. Think of this piece as a metaphor while taking a walk through the trails of thicket; your surroundings are all so recognizable and simple, yet there is so much you still haven’t discovered. It’s the psychedelic genre of new age music; beginning with classic piano melodies, moving into strange synth experimentations, and finally transcending back to familiar harmonies with a cheerful movement.
This Will Destroy You – Another Language
This Will Destroy You is a post-rock instrumental band from San Marcos, Texas. Moving away from slow and simple compositions, a therapeutic experience can also arise from transforming the energy it takes to organize responsibilities in your head into excitement found in moving beats and melodies, similar to the euphoric experience of seeing your favorite band live in concert. What they lack in vocals is made up by emotion and passion physically felt as you rummage through these patterns of art and feeling. This could be listened to while lying in the warm grass as you gaze at the patterns of sunlight, branches, and leafs in the sky, appreciating the energy and complexity of the music streaming from your ear buds.
Now, let’s be realistic. In the real world there is no stopping, especially in this western culture; you stop, you fail, and then BOOM you’re homeless.
There are so many techniques in consideration to meditation: Vipassana, transcendental, Mantra, etc. All techniques with one thing in common, clearing your overworked consciousness, forcing the mind to slow down for a good half hour and come down to a much needed pause. This is only a new form of reaching therapeutic peace. A peace that can easily be reached with a few trees, a trail, and some ear buds.