A few years ago, my younger sister was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. When the officer asked her why she was driving so fast, she replied, “Do you ever have a really good song come on the radio and it just makes you driver faster?” The officer stared blankly at her for a moment then started laughing and said, “Well, next time change the station!” He ended up not writing her a ticket and although I’m sure the fact that she is pretty influenced his decision, perhaps he could relate to the power of music.
To be frank, I am not a fan of wearing headphones during races but during training runs, especially solo ventures, certain songs seem to make me run faster. Catchy songs from my youth (Hook and Run Around by Blues Traveler) seem to impel me on hills and are in every running playlist on my ipod. L’arena by Ennio Morricone has such an incredible build up that I listen to it at the end of long runs when only momentum carries me on. Some songs are great for mid-distant and others for sprints repeats; I have song lists for many workouts. Who knows if it the tunes or the memories that they invoke that push me, but to paraphrase my sister, “they just make me go faster.”
Utilizing music in prayer can be an effective yet delicate process for people since tastes vary. Christian music is popular and the traditional chant seems to lift the mind and heart to loftier places. Praise and worship is a valid way to honor God; St. Augustine even once wrote, “He who sings prays twice.” Some of my friends like the lyrics that express feelings or experiences that they have but are unable to articulate. Others like meditative music or mantras that draw them into interior reflection and discernment. In the end, the litmus test should be whether the incorporation of music enriches one’s prayer life or is an impediment to connecting with one’s higher power.