Music is a proven way to soothe our anxious souls, but there are some tunes that are more likely to calm us than others. In a marketing study by Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson for Radox Spa, British band Marconi Union worked with sound therapists to create the most relaxing tune.
Featuring guitar, piano and electronic samples of natural soundscapes, the resulting song “Weightless” was designed to induce relaxation in participants and it worked better than others songs by Enya, Mozart and Coldplay. When researchers played the song to 40 women, they found that it caused a 65% reduction in overall anxiety.
How you can make music relaxing
“The harmonic intervals —or gaps between note— have been chosen to create a feeling of euphoria and comfort,” Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, said about why “Weightless” is so relaxing to participants. “And there is no repeating melody, which allows your brain to completely switch off because you are no longer trying to predict what is coming next.”
But you do not necessarily need to an eight-minute-long melody to use the power of music to your relaxing advantage. When I am commuting to work, listening to energizing tunes is how I can make my bumpy, cramped ride on the subway a mental oasis. And my relaxation technique is backed by mindfulness to work.
Listening to music is a proven technique to get us to stop judging our surroundings and to focus on the present. As mindfulness teacher Laurie J. Cameron previously advised Ladders, focusing on the lyrics of the song or the quality of the singer’s voice can help us stay present in the moment. “When I’m tuned into the direct experience of listening to music, that’s mindfulness,” she told Ladders. When we are letting the beats of the melodies resonate within us, we are teaching our bodies to stay in the here and now instead of the fearful what-ifs and should’s.