Today I sat down with Najwa Taoussi, who is a full time freelance digital marketer, content writer, motivational blogger, and the woman behind workonlinetips.com, which is a website that talks about all of these things and more!
Najwa is a big fan of different kinds of music to help keep her on track, and so I was very interested to speak to her to get some insight on how she likes to keep focused when it comes to work, study, and other areas that require concentration, and what music this involves. Keeping on track has always been a bit of a struggle for me when it comes to working online, but I also have the same problems with school and just chilling out sometimes. Najwa, although she does love to work and stay focused on the task at hand, she also likes to cut loose sometimes and she uses music for these purposes as well – dancing, meditating, or just relaxing in general.
In addition to simply loving music, Najwa is very creative and inquisitive, and has done some looking into the way music affects a person psychologically. She is always interested in helping others, and I figured maybe she could help me. Anyway, myself (Young Coconut – picture inset on right) and her get into all of this stuff in more in our conversation below. Enjoy!
YC: Hi Najwa, how are you today?
NT: Hello David! I’m good thank you.
YC: I understand you’re a big fan of listening to music.
NT: Yes! Totally. I have been a music lover since my early childhood. It’s partly because my parents are music lovers themselves.
YC: Ah, cool! So what kinds of music do you listen to?
NT: I listen to oldies, psychedelic rock, some indie and I like electronic music too.
YC: A wide variety! When do you generally listen to music?
NT: When I write (for my blog or clients), when I cook, when I’m in the car and when I’m with friends who like listening to music too.
YC: So pretty much all the time, or quite often. Is there a time when you’d rather not listen to music?
NT: When I’m asleep, or too tired and need silence to rest. Also, if I am too concentrated on a subject, sometimes music will not help me. Especially if it has lyrics.
YC: Yeah, it can be fairly stimulating. Do you ever listen to music to relax, or do you prefer to get stimulated by it?
NT: Well, both actually. I can listen to mediational music when I want to relax and electronic music if I want to dance for example…
YC: Is it actual meditation music, or just relaxing music? For instance, when you meditate, do you listen to music that was made for that purpose or just chill music?
NT: When I meditate it’s always music that was made for meditation like Tibetan soft music or Native American flutes and such.
YC: Ah, let’s stay with the topic of meditation music for a moment. Would you say you meditate a lot? Or regularly, at least?
NT: I would say regularly. I try to meditate every night before I sleep, some nights it’s not possible if I’m too tired. But I try to do it at least 5 times a week.
YC: Mmhm, I see. So does this always involve some kind of music? Or do you ever do it without music?
NT: When I meditate, I like to have the full experience : Meditation music, incense and candles.
YC: Wow.. pretty extravagant. You really do it up!
NT: I know, right?
YC: With this music you use, where do you get it, and do you have a large collection of it?
NT: I use mostly Soundcloud and sometimes Youtube. So, I don’t download these tunes but I listen to them online.
YC: Oh ok you stream them.
YC: Do you have any favourites or do you look for something different every time?
NT: I usually look for downtempo psychill music, or music with “shamanic” sounds. I also like Tibetan or Indian ambients. Those are the keywords I type.
YC: Ah, so there aren’t exactly artists that you look for, it’s more like the style?
YC: Do you ever use this psychill music to study or just to meditate? Because it seems like it would be good music to study to as well.
NT: No, just to meditate. It’s too relaxing to study. When I want to study or work, I listen to those brainwave tracks. I don’t know if you have heard about them. I was skeptical at first, but they actually work for me. It’s like the only music that “lets me” study and stay concentrated on what I am doing.
YC: No can’t say as I have. What’s a brainwave track?
NT: It’s not actual music with instruments or voice, but instead it’s waves that are captured by the brain. Listening to sounds with the same frequency as the Alpha brain waves (7.5 – 12.5 Hz) has been found to stimulate the emission of those brain waves by the brain. Neuroscientists have found a correlation between an increase of alpha brain waves and the ability to reduce increase concentration and creative thinking. Sometimes it doesn’t work for some people, but for me, it sure does.
YC: What does it sound like?
NT: Well, the low frequency waves are kind of like a deeply penetrating drum beat. While the higher frequency ones are more like a high pitched flute. The sounds are pretty repetitive and usually very calm. Sometimes when I am really concentrated, I don’t even listen to them anymore, I “forget” it’s there. Especially if I do it for a long time.
YC: Are these types of tracks on Soundcloud as well or do you purchase them, or what?
NT: You can find them on Soundcloud and Youtube for free. You just need to type brainwaves to work or concentration brainwaves, things like that.
YC: And this actually makes you feel more productive as you listen?
NT: I find that It keeps me concentrated one one task for a long time. It’s either that or it is a very strong placebo. I found about them when I was preparing for my master’s thesis. I used to search for “music for focus or concentration” or “music to study” and ended up finding those brainwaves. I read some articles about them and to be honest, I didn’t think it was serious. But then I tried them and it worked for me.
YC: I can totally see why. Yeah, I find a lot of music too erratic or stimulating to write to. And reading? forget it. I need silence. But it sounds like you have a lot of different applications for music.
NT: Yes, music can be therapeuthic, relaxing, it can help you focus, it can help you be motivated (in a gym for example) and it can make you dance. Music can be used for pretty much everything we do, it just needs to ‘fit’ the task. You can’t listen to death metal if you want to read a book or meditate. But then again, maybe some people do it? We never know.
YC: Did you just stumble onto the brainwave music? Is that what it’s called, or brainwave songs? Oh you said.. you just searched it in google. But no one told you about it specifically, like your sensei?
NT: Well I was searching for music to study and came across it. No one told me about it.
YC: There are no “artists” that make this music? When you listen to it, who does it say the artist is? Brainwave Inc? It sounds like a lot of the stuff you listen to for meditation or studying or working is just sort of generic stuff.. no famous artists then I take it?
NT: I don’t really know any artists on that type. It’s just waves that peple put on a youtube video or on soundcloud. Sometimes they add some music to it to make it sound better.
YC: Maybe you can link me to some of the stuff we’ve been talking about? Such as the brainwave stuff, the meditation stuff you use. I can toss it into the article.
NT: Here’s a good one that includes some alpha waves.
YC: Nice, I will have to check these out. In regards to meditation and music, would you have any tips for beginners?
NT: For meditation, if you are a beginner, just don’t worry about doing it wrong. Most people stop meditating when they just started because it doesn’t feel like they are doing it the right way. Just focus on your breath and the music. Another important thing to know is that, people think when we meditate, our head should be empty, with no thoughts and that’s what meditation makes. Whereas, you will always have thoughts going on and the key is : don’t judge your thoughts. Don’t go like : I shouldn’t be thinking this right now it’s ruining my meditation session. Rather, let your mind imagine and think and don’t judge it. If you are feeling too overwhelmed, just focus again on your breathing or the music.
YC: So I guess songs like Ventolin by Aphex Twin wouldn’t be a good idea to start off with.
NT: I like Aphex Twin actually. But I wouldn’t listen to his music while meditating, but if I did, I’d go for a more downtempo and relaxed tune like this…
YC: Yes, that’s a lot better. Anyway, thank you Najwa for having this chat. I learned a lot, and hopefully others did too.
NT: Sure, no problem!