I surprised myself today…..and joined a choir.
I admit, not what I thought I’d be doing when deciding on my New Year’s Resolutions just a few weeks ago. I did however start the year with the intention of just “going with it” when a new opportunity presented itself. So when I saw the posters for a new choir starting up in Skipton I thought “Well why on earth not….?”.
That’s not to say I didn’t have to have some firm words with
my primitive mind just before setting off for the first meeting. And yes, even as a qualified clinical
hypnotherapist with a good understanding of how the human mind works and the
tricks it can play, I am still not immune to the influence of this powerful
Let me explain.
The primitive mind is the part of the mind which, since the
days of the caveman, has been responsible for survival. So while my conscious
intellectual mind knows that joining a choir is unlikely to represent a
significant threat to my continued existence on this earth, unfortunately the
primitive subconscious part of my brain really does not like change and
therefore resists whatever new venture my intellectual mind has planned.
It works on the principle that if what I did yesterday (i.e.
not joining a choir) kept me safe it would be best if I did the same again
today. And paradoxically that includes avoiding
new situations and activities which may contribute to my enjoyment of life, and
even wellbeing – because in its view “new” and “different”
may constitute a threat to my survival.
So, the primitive mind is now battling for the upper hand,
and one of the other tricks it has up its metaphorical sleeve is to encourage negative
thinking and seeing things from the worst possible perspective. This too is a survival mechanism, discouraging
any optimism in the face of a perceived threat and ensuring that the threat is
taken seriously and dealt with.
Now this may seem like an overreaction to the case in hand….seriously, just how dangerous can singing be? But it’s important to recognise that the mind can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. By the time we’ve thought about all the things that can possibly go wrong (I have to walk into a room of people I don’t know, what if there’s no-one there I get on with, what if I’m no good at it, what if I look stupid….?) anxiety is at an all-time high – and the primitive mind is looking for any excuse to back out of going…..
Fortunately in this instance my intellectual mind managed to
reassert itself for long enough to get me in through the door…and then to
stay to give it a try.
The reluctance of the primitive mind to try new things is
particularly ironic in this case, given the abundance of research and evidence
now available showing the link between singing and improvement in both mental
and physical health.
The very act of singing has been shown to increase our sense
of happiness and wellbeing – probably because it is associated with the release
of important neurochemicals, such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Endorphins are the chemicals we usually think
of in relation to exercise – something that many of us find difficult to find
motivation for, especially on a cold winter evening. Singing perhaps offers a more palatable way
of achieving some of the benefits…..minus the lycra and aching muscles……
Performing together, even without an audience, also promotes
a sense of social closeness. As many
studies have found evidence which suggests that social connections and positive
human interaction act as a trigger for the brain’s reward system (more of those
good neurochemicals!), it makes it even more certain that we should try to
override the primitive mind’s natural caution and just give singing a try.
The “All Together Now” choir has just launched in
Skipton, meeting at the Church Hall, Skipton Baptist Church on Rectory Lane
(right opposite the exit from the Town Hall car park) each Thursday morning at
10am. More details here All-Together-Now-Skipton
Come and join in. Someone
will be listening, but nobody will be judging.