Music & Mindfulness: How to Teach and Learn a New Language Alongside Your Child
I moved to Mexico in my early 30’s and began learning Spanish. Though less challenging for a person in their 30’s than someone in their 60’s let’s say, learning a foreign language as an adult can be far more challenging than for a young child yet offers endless moments for mindfulness practice. (Click here for more on the benefits of bilingualism on our children's brains). Because we are using our conscious awareness every time we pause to think of a new word or a correct verb conjugation, we find ourselves in the present moment. We also embody a tender vulnerability when we find ourselves in the position of a beginner. As Zen master Shunryu Suzuki says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” If we can stay with that vulnerability and have the courage to make mistakes and keep on trying, we have huge opportunity for growth.
In Buddhism, mindfulness practice plays the central role in our ability to cultivate appreciation, gratitude, and love in our lives. No matter what religion or faith we come from or believe in, mindfulness teachings give us ways to develop our minds, body, and speech to live fuller and more rich lives. All of the world religions agree that it is our undisciplined mind that is the root of selfishness, aggression, judgment, and negativity in our world. As we learn to train the brain and focus our attention in this way we create an atmosphere of optimal mental health. By learning a new language we are opening up not only more opportunities to understand new cultures and foreign customs but also to expand our brain’s capacity for new awareness and harmony.
Fast forward to latest scientific breakthroughs in understanding the mind and how we create our realities. Standard electrical equipment can detect electrical fields generated from tight neural networks in our brains. In fact, our whole body emanates electrical fields and from that field our mind creates our level of consciousness. Wherever there are nerve cells there is electricity and our very thoughts are formed inside this electrical field. When we are stressed or anxious we literally block ourselves to learning new things. There is even new scientific evidence that the heart too has neural cells and that the heart field is up to 60 times greater than that of the brain. It is no wonder that the evocative power of music creates a kind of coherence in our mind-body connection.
"Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents."
--Ludwig van Beethoven
We all know that music can induce certain emotions and moods and give us new found energy without us even being consciously aware of it. Music lifts us up and offers a chance to access other realms of consciousness. Imagine the power of the use of music as a tool for conscious learning! It can be a powerful accelerator for maintaining concentration and focus. Research has shown that music can assist the student to reach Alpha brain waves which enhance learning and memorization just like mindfulness meditation studies have shown. Music creates a positive atmosphere, energizes students, helps students focus, increases attention, releases tension, enhances imagination, inspires, helps students develop bonds, and simply makes learning more fun!
Habla Blah Blah has created a simple and effective method for language learning USING music. Through repetition of words, phrases, and melody and the inherent power of our brain’s own natural genius, we learn faster and more effectively! Whether you are already bilingual or just beginning, mindfulness is an excellent tool and always your best teacher’s assistant!