Last week I introduced this series of blogs on easy ways you can bring simple rituals into your daily realm to invite Spirit back into your life. These rituals take no more than a few minutes and will easily fit into your daily schedule. And as I mentioned last week, if one doesn’t resonate with you, perhaps the next topic will.
Driving and Stress
Do you ever find yourself stressed while driving? Perhaps you drive to and from work during rush hour when traffic can get a little, shall we say hairy? It’s sometimes hard to stay calm as you notice how many other drivers are perhaps texting or simply wanting to drive right through you!
How do you insulate your nervous system from this onslaught of stress? It’s an important question because it’s the quality of life every day that creates your overall health, right?
Try turning off the radio and humming a favorite tune and if it happens to be a spiritual song, or one that reminds you of loved ones, even better.
When I’m driving and want to stay calm, humming some of my favorite songs brings me back to center. My go-to song to hum all year round is “Silent Night”. This song pops into my head immediately when I’m driving. Sometimes I find myself humming it before I’ve even realized I started humming—like the infamous “Pavlov’s dog” experiment. I get in the car and start to hum as I start to drive because my subconscious knows that’s my M.O.
If it’s a long drive, I have a playlist of sorts. “Silent Night” turns into “You are my sunshine”, which has a very emotional component, calling to mind my mom (in-law) as well as my great aunt (in-law), both of whom have passed. Next I hum “Que Sera Sera” which my dad used to whistle to himself. When I find myself missing him terribly (he passed away in 2003), I’ll hum the “Polish National Anthem”. My parents were both born in Poland and I went down the aisle to the Polish Anthem as a surprise gift to both sets of Polish parents. (My in-laws are also 100% Polish.) My dad could play this tune on his harmonica to his dying day (from Alzheimer’s). It was his favorite song and would always bring tears to his eyes.
Humming has a calming effect in and of itself but the songs you choose to hum will also add to the healing environment you are creating with the sound of your vocal chords. It’s like inviting my best friends into the car with me—my most supportive relatives surrounding me. The songs that have come to mind when I drive bring soothing memories and a reminder of important connections in my life.
Maybe it’s a spiritual song that brings you comfort. Maybe it’s like the ones I’ve chosen. Although it’s really more like they chose me!
I believe everything’s a sign and I’ve often thought the songs that have made it to my playlist are my relative’s way of reaching out to me when I need it, especially when the song just starts humming itself unprompted.
Then at other times I know that humming the tune by conscious choice will bring them to mind. And this conscious choice literally brings their spirit to me whenever I am in need of their particular message—like a calling card of sorts. Sometimes I just need a reminder of what their presence meant to me in my life to bring me back to center.
How about you? Do you have certain favorite songs that bring someone special to mind? Invite them back into your life by humming “their song”. They’re only a song away.
Some humming benefits
You know innately that humming calms your central nervous system. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before. This calming response is compliments of your Vagus Nerve which runs through your vocal chords to the base of your stomach. (Yoga activates the Vagus Nerve too, but more on that another day.)
I’ve read that humming enhances health and wellness by increasing oxygen in the cells. It lowers your blood pressure and your heart rate too! How cool is that? No meds required! Humming also clears toxins out of your body by increasing your lymphatic circulation, increases melatonin—the sleep hormone, reduces stress hormones, releases oxytocin—the love/trust hormone, releases feel good endorphins promoting natural pain relief, and also increases nitric oxide levels which is a molecule that promotes healing! Humming transforms us on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. (Source: The Humming Effect by Jonathan Goldman and Andi Goldman)
There’s a yogic breath called “bees” breath (Bhramari) that is one of the best breathing exercises to release agitation, frustration, or anxiety and helps get rid of anger. Could you use those benefits while driving? The exhalation sounds like a humming bee sound. So even if you can’t think of a tune to hum, you can try simply making this vibratory hum sound of a bee. (The full practice would suggest closing your eyes and placing your fingers in your ears, plugging them. Obviously you WON’T do this full practice while driving but you could hum a vibratory bee sound without the other details.)
Try it! You’ll see. Humming relaxes you in mind and body, reduces fear and worry; and keeps you grounded and focused. It’s kind of like your own white noise filling your mind with soothing tones vs. the monkey mind of chitter chatter your ego likes to go on and on about. I’ve read that humming helps you concentrate (some auditory learners need that white noise) among many other benefits. You may have read that our iPhones are taking our concentrative powers away! We have an antidote—humming!
Try humming a few tunes the next time you’re on the road and see if you arrive at your destination a little calmer, more centered and at peace.