SITE UPGRADE COMING SOON: On or around January 31st, 2022, I'll be moving Mindful Teachers to a new, more mobile-friendly platform.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Songs About Mindfulness and Compassion

updated March 10, 2020

posted by Catharine Hannay

Continuing the popular series of Song Playlists for Teachers, here are more than two dozen songs carefully selected for their compelling lyrics and/or videos.

As always, I've included a wide range of musical styles and variety of perspectives, from heart-warming to thought-provoking. Please watch the full video before sharing it with your class, to make sure it's appropriate for your particular context. 

Appreciating the Present Moment/Awareness of Time Passing

As the Moon Starts to Rise, The Milk Carton Kids
lyricsvideo (audio + album cover)
"Picking berries off the vine. This one's yours this one's mine. Remember in the winter time it looked like they were dying... You look so much bigger now. Time goes by so fast somehow. Another summer's come and gone. Soon the days won't last so long."

Enjoy Every Second, Michael Franti and Spearhead
lyrics; video of live recording; alternate version feat. A Goddess
"I'm giving thanks for every second of this life that I've been given. Every mountain that I've climbed and every pitfall that I fell into... So many ups and downs.
But we turn the frowns around."

Little Things, india.arie
lyricsofficial video

"As simple as a phone call just to make it known that you're gonna be a little late. Pure as a kiss on a cheek, in a word that everything will be okay. .. Give me some good food, give me cute shoes, give me some piece of mind... In the quest for fortune and fame, don't forget about the simple things."

Monday, The Bottle Rockets 
lyrics; video of live performance

"Another week. It's time to say hello. Well, is it over yet? Probably so... It's always half past now awhile ago."

Right Now, Sabrina Carpenter
lyrics; video (audio + album cover)

"We'll never be as young as we are right now. We'll never see the world like we do right now. So take in what's around you. Put your camera down.

For more songs like these:

Love and Friendship

After the Storm Blows Through, Maddie + Tae
lyricsvideo of live performance
"I got an umbrella, and I think it's big enough for the both of us. I'll face that wind by your side. Even take on that rain, I don't mind. Or give you space or give you time, if you need me to. But I'll be here for you after the storm blows through."

Friendship, Chris Stapleton
lyricscover by Dwayne Hagginsofficial audio
"Said what's wrong my old time friend. Something's bothering you. Tell me what the problem is. I'll see what I can do... We got friendship. The kind that lasts a lifetime. Through all the hardship, you know you're a friend of mine."

Good Friend, Emily King
lyrics; video (audio + album cover)

"If there's something I need, I don't already have, I know I'll get it from a good friend."

It's You I Like, Fred Rogers
lyricscover by Narwals and Waterfallsvideo from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood 
"It's you I like. The way you are right now. The way down deep inside you. Not the things that hide you...I hope that you'll remember even when you're feeling blue, that it's you I like."

Photograph, Ed Sheehan
"Loving can hurt sometimes. But it's the only thing that I know. When it gets hard. You know it can get hard sometimes. It is the only thing that makes us feel alive."

Still a Friend of Mine, Mona Lisa Twins
lyricsofficial video
"You took your time to speak your mind, until the truth was plain to see... Only love will set us free. I wonder how the world would be if everyone could see what you could see. Never in line. Pearls before swine. After all this time, you're still a friend of mine."

Regret and Forgiveness

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Nina Simone
lyrics; there are a lot of recordings of this song, including The AnimalsDavid BusbyCyndi LauperJohn Legend, and Nina Simone

"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood. If I seem edgy, I want you to know, that I never mean to take it out on you."

Hear My Heart, Andy Mineo
official video with lyrics, ASL, and graphics to show the beat of the music
He wrote this song for his sister, to apologize for not learning sign language while they were growing up.

For more songs like these:

Self-Compassion, Self-Expression, Empathy, and Encouragement

Black Sheep, MILCK (Connie Lim)
lyrics; video of live performance

"You've been told for way too long that you're the one to blame... Don't let anyone turn your unique into flaws. You know that I love you the way that you are."

Cry Pretty, Carrie Underwood
lyrics; official video 
"You can pretty lie and say it's okay. You can pretty smile and just walk away... but when things get ugly, you just gotta face that you can't cry pretty."

Fight for Me, GAWVI
lyricsofficial video

"When I don't know what I believe, why does everybody leave? Show me what it's like to dream. I need You* to fight for me." (*This is a song by a Christian singer. The lyrics can be interpreted in a religious way; the video shows a single father and his son who need each other.)

Fly, Maddie + Tae
lyrics; official video

"The road's been long and lonely and you feel like giving up...keep on climbing, though the ground might shake. Just keep on reaching though the limb might break... 'Cause you can learn to fly on the way down."

Freedom, Tyrone Wells

"If something's on your mind, say what you need to say... If something's in your heart, you gotta let it out. Go on and show the whole wide world what you are all about."

Make Some Noise, Awu
lyrics not available; official video
"Around the world, everyone... Lift your voice. Let your voice be heard."

Masterpiece (Mona Lisa), Jazmine Sullivan
lyrics; video (audio +album cover)

"My flaws don't look so bad at all. What was I so afraid of?...Who is this I've tried so long to fight? Filling my head with lies that I'm not good enough..."

Message in a Bottle, The Police
lyricscover by Nilka; live performance by Sting 

"More loneliness than any man could bear. Rescue me before I fall into despair... I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle...A hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore. Seems I'm not alone in being alone."

Pain, 1K Phew
lyrics; official video

"Please do not judge me, I'm innocent. I don't believe in coincidence. Stick to the goal with obedience. That's how you get the ingredients. Look at the city we living in. Gotta keep going, no giving in... Gotta heal my pain, gotta heal my pain."

Underdog, Alicia Keys
lyricsofficial video

"She was walking in the street, looked up and noticed. He was nameless, he was homeless. She asked him his name and told him what hers was... One conversation, a single moment. The things that change us if we notice. When we look up, sometimes."

For more songs like these:

Compassion, Peace, and Diversity

Everybody's Someone, LeeAnn Rimes and Brian McFadden
"A thousand faces pass you by. You never look into their eyes. You feel so ordinary. They feel so ordinary. Hey, everybody's someone. No matter where you come from... And when it's hard to hold on. Remember you are not alone. This house is everybody's home."

Everyday People, Sly and the Family Stone
lyrics; video by Playing for Change

"There is a blue one who can't accept the green one for living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one... we got to live together. I am no better and neither are you. We are the same whatever we do."

Grant Us Peace, Angel City Chorale
video of live performance
"Sim Shalom, Ihmnachna Al’ Salaam, Dona Nobis Pacem"

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, The Hollies

lyricsvideo of recording by GUTIERREZ; there are a lot of other recordings of this song, including by Homeless Worldwide
"His welfare is of my concern. No burden is he to bear... If I'm laden at all, I'm laden with sadness that everyone's heart isn't filled with the gladness of love for one another."

Hurts 2B Human, Pink
lyricsofficial video

"Sometimes I get so tired of getting tied up in my thoughts... It hurts to be human... Hope flows away. If you could spend a day in my shoes. Your mind would change, if you'd known what I've gone through."

A Little Peace, MILCK (Connie Lim)

There are some extremely critical and offensive comments on this video. I encourage everyone to read Ms. Lim's thoughtful and compassionate response.

Love is All, Playing for Change
lyricsofficial video, featuring young singers and musicians from around the world
"All you need is love and understanding. Ring the bell and let the people know. So love your neighbour like you love your brother. Let your feelings show."

Love Will Find a Way, Michael Franti & Spearhead
lyricsofficial video

"This is a song for all kinds of people. All of the cities and all of the streets, yo. The synagogue and the mosque and the steeple... Could you give a little to help love find a way?...To create and to liberate and to celebrate. Not to hate."

Most People Are Good, Luke Bryan 
lyricsofficial video

"I believe if you just go by the nightly news, your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose... I believe this world ain't half as bad as it looks... I believe that days go slow and years go fast. And every breath's a gift, the first one to the last."

Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong, Michael Franti
lyricsvideo of live recording

"Reach out a hand to somebody who needs a hand. And reach out a heart to somebody torn apart. It's hard, this livin, this life we've been given."

Right to Peace, Rubia Braun
global sing-along video by the Peace Crane Project

"Look around the world today. So many things are not okay... Things must change, that much is clear. Why should any of us live in fear?"

Tolerance, Michael Franti and Spearhead
lyricsvideo (audio + album cover)
"Oh, give a little tolerance. We need you more and more. So lend a hand or simply hold a friend that's in need of a life support. Draw a picture, share a whisper, anyway that you can rise above."

Walk In My Shoes, Emily King
lyricsofficial video

"Everybody's got their own problems that they're going through. I take it day by day, its only thing that I can do. So I live for me as you live for you. But you can't be me unless you walk in my shoes."

What Do I Know?, Ed Sheeran
lyricsvideo (audio + album cover)video filmed with children in Liberia 

"I'll paint the picture, let me set the scene. You know, the future's in the hands of you and me. So let's all get together, we can all be free. Spread love and understanding, positivity."

World of Joy, To Kill a King and Frank Turner
lyricsofficial video
"If we stand together, gather our families close. You'll see that your needs are just like my needs. Be slow to anger. Be quick to smile. Be tolerant because these times are delicate... and for God's sake, smile."

For more songs like these:

Altogether there are more than Song Playlists for TeachersIf you like these playlists, you might also be interested in the Video Playlists for Teachers and Teacher Trainers.

And there are many more resources for teaching mindfulness and compassion at

Catharine Hannay is the founder of and the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance. (Sales of the book help me continue to run with no sponsorship or advertising.)