What does it mean to be S.O.B.E.R.? – R: Reconnect

This post is the last in the SOBER series where I break down each part of SOBER from my book, Sonic Recovery: Harness the Power of Music to Stay Sober. This week we focus on the “R” which stands for Reconnect.

R = Reconnect

Clinical Outcome: “Clients engaged in song analysis (or active music-making) to increase interpersonal connection.”

I could just reduce this down to one word: connect. 

As my sponsor likes to say, being human is a shared experience. We’re not meant to do this thing alone. One of the frameworks that I like in Amen and Smith’s Unchain Your Brain is the idea that there are four pillars to recovery: Physical, Psychological, Social, and Spiritual. I think of it like four tires on the recovery vehicle. Now I don’t care what kind of car you drive, if one of your tires has no air in it, You’re not going very far.

We’ve already seen that music inflates all four tires

In this context, when we make music, we connect with the beat, and we connect with each other through the beat when we’re making music together. This is a great way to safely connect, especially if someone has trust issues resulting from any sort of trauma. 

Music is predictable

We can anticipate that the next beat is going to be similar to the last one (unless you try listening to prog-rock or prog-metal… then good luck anticipating what’s coming next… but I digress). There is a structure to it: it is, after all, organized sound.

When I get a group drumming together in a music therapy session, I lay down a predictable bass beat with my big bass drum which acts as the ‘pulse’ and lays the foundation. I keep it super steady so people can easily connect to it. Once they connect to it, they’re connected to each other, but only by proxy. It’s not a direct or confrontational connection… it’s indirect. This is a great way to introduce someone with trust issues to connecting even though I don’t tell them that they’re connecting with each other. I just talk about the beat because they trust the beat. They trust the music. Trust people, on the other hand… not so much. In this setting, they don’t have to connect through verbal language.

How Music Helps us Reconnect

Check out the video, where I explain this further:

In case you missed them, here are the links to the first 4 parts of SOBER.

Stay Present

Open Up

Be Creative

Escape Stressors

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