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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today I love... music

Of course, I didn't just start loving music today - I have loved it all my life. And while I absolutely appreciate the value of good solid silence, I do have a set of musical playlists I compiled for various needs.

To think

I have a very brain-intensive job, which I love. However, maintaining high levels of mental concentration for hours on end (sometimes four-five hours at a stretch), can be quite exhausting. When I get ready to dive into a particularly challenging bit of statistical analysis, I use either my New Age Instrumental (mostly David Arkenstone, with a bit of Enya and others sprinkled through) or Mannheim Steamroller compilations (sometimes both - one after another, depending on the length of the task).

The pieces vary in mood and pace to keep my mind awake, the more energetic compositions have a good solid beat to them, but overall effect is unobtrusive - which is perfect for minimum distraction.

To energize

There are days when there is plenty to do, but the tasks are not particularly challenging or exciting, and I keep finding my attention drifting away. When I have two cups of coffee and realize that my mind is still not quite awake, I put on either Paul Mauriat or Ennio Morricone playlist.

The music is harmonious, and fairly complex, although not always fast and energetic. It allows me to keep my brain going while doing something mundane. I make progress without falling asleep somewhere halfway through.

To dance

There are high-intensity work days and then there are slow days. I have long since stopped feeling bad when such times come along, knowing full well that for each day when I can just kick back and relax there will be four or five, during which I'll be running like a chicken with its head cut off.

So, on those days when there is enough time to get out of my office chair and stretch my back, I kick off my Dance Mix. Not all of the pieces are fast - I purposely picked and arranged them in such a way that I would have options to either get moving, or stretch, or just... twirl or shake my tush. It's not a recital or a competition - so anything goes.

To relax

My Meditation playlist leverages other compilations: it combines the most relaxing, the most stress-free pieces from my other playlists.

I use it when I am tired, sick or stressed and I find it goes equally well with a cup of tea or a glass of wine. The music is still complex enough to keep the mind alert, but it is relaxing and helps me come down from the lightspeed pace, at which my brain normally operates. Friday night music is not always loud, booming and fast - sometimes the Meditation playlist is exactly what I need for my happy hour.

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