If you’re reading this article it’s probably because you’re wondering if meditating with music is acceptable or common. The answer to both of those questions is a resounding “YES.” Music can be an incredibly helpful tool for a relaxed meditation. In this article we’re going to debunk some common misconceptions about meditating in silence, the benefits of meditating with music, and lastly a quick overview of the types of meditation music out there.
You Don’t Have To Meditate In Silence
There’s a pervasive perception of meditation that stems from pop culture, TV shows, and certain practitioners that you must learn to meditate in silence. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Usually, people come to believe that you must meditate in silence because of the incorrect understanding that meditation is about concentration. In fact, even when it appears that someone is meditating in silence that’s probably not the case. It’s a common meditation technique to focus on a slight sound in the room like a fan whirling or the sound of a leaky faucet while meditating.
Concentration vs Focus
Meditation is not a practice of concentration. There’s a fine line between concentration and focus and that line is called “effort.” A concentrating mind is an active mind and that’s the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve through meditation.
Concentration is the conscious consumption of a particular subject. When you’re concentrating on something you’re trying to understand it or analyze it.
On the other hand, focus is the relaxed unconscious attention that we give to something. Or, to put it another way, focus is acknowledgement. You acknowledge thousands of stimulants each day without actively thinking about them. For example, you acknowledge that a plant is green or that a dog is small without any effort and you do this every moment that you’re awake. Meditation is about ease, not effort.
When you meditate you’re acknowledging your body, how peaceful you feel and even the sounds that you hear. Meditating with music just means you’re intentionally giving yourself a subject to acknowledge rather than
The Purpose Of Meditation
The purpose of meditation is quieting the mind. Your brain is the epicenter of your body. It’s constantly firing communication through your limbs, nerves, and organs. And, it retains new and valuable information as well as those nagging-crappy memories. Being a brain is a 24/7 job and the only occasions it gets for rest is when you fall asleep, or when you meditate.
When your brain rests you get to shed negative feelings and clean your slate. When you clear your mind, you get to begin again.
10 Reasons You Should Be Meditating With Music
When you acknowledge the primary goal for meditation you’ll find many justifications for meditating with music. Now, let’s discuss how meditating with music can be more beneficial for you than meditating without and some of the styles of meditative music.
1. It can be Easier Than Meditating in “Silence”
The number one reason why you should consider meditating to music is because it’s easier to do. Meditation should not be a mental grapple of will. Instead, it should serve its purpose which is relief for your mind.
If you’re laying down with your eyes closed and thinking about why you can’t clear your mind and just focus then you’re not really meditating.
When you meditate to music you can still clear your mind while focusing on the sounds and melodies being offered to you.
You don’t have to meditate according to anyone else’s rules or beliefs. There are no guidelines. If you can zone out to music or melodies and clear your mind of thoughts, go for it.
2. Music Enhances Your Mood
It’s far easier to meditate when you’re already content or at ease than if something is bothering you. In fact, I’d argue that attempting to meditate when you’re upset is the worst thing you can do. You already have momentum going in the direction of what’s upsetting you and meditation is not going to help you slam on the brakes. Instead, what will happen is that you’ll wrestle with thoughts of what is annoying you and compounding the annoyance by the conscious awareness of your overactive mind.
That said, certain melodies and sounds are proven to help you enhance your already good, or peaceful mood which improves your ability to focus on the sounds instead of chronic thoughts.
3. Music Helps Reduce Stress
Countless scientific and academic researchescarried out all across the globe over the last 100 years has confirmed one thing; music has an obvious effect on our emotional state starting from calming us down to getting us excited and happy. For me, this simple benefit alone should be more highlighted more often to promote hearing music while meditating. Improved focus, concentration and mental clarity are also some of the less-focused benefits of meditating with music.
5. Music Helps You Heal Your Body
Astudyfrom Austria’s General Hospital of Salzburg found that patients recovering from back surgery had increased rates of healing and experienced less pain when music was incorporated into the standard rehabilitation process. This is because music helps you unconsciously manage your brain function, blood pressure, and heartbeat.
When you listen to slow-calming music, your body matches it through a slowing of your heart beat and lower blood pressure. Then, your breath slows which helps your muscles relax. All of this contributes to an increased rate of recovery. Therefore, consistently meditating with music can help you naturally heal injuries faster.
6. Music Amplifies Your Emotions
Meditating with music can help you attune your emotional state in a balanced manner. You can often get clarity on your emotions by the choices of music you make. If the age old proverb ‘you’re what you eat’ is true then ‘you’re what is listen to’ should also be listed as a new age proverb. You don’t even need to discuss meditation to understand the impact music has on you.
If you’re an upbeat and cheerful person, it’s more likely you listen to rock music, jazz and RnB. If you’re more of the calm silent type, blues music is most probably your playlist preference. By combining meditation with the right type of beats, you can increase your motivation and confidence levels.
7. Music Assists Deeper Meditations
Just because you start meditating with music doesn’t mean you have to do the whole session listening to it. If you’re an advanced level meditation practitioner then you can easily use music to go up to the second stage of meditation and then keep meditating without it. This does not affect your focus or concentration at all during deep meditation.
8. Music Helps Improve Cognitive Function
Music’s effect on brain cognition is known as the Mozart Effect which refers to music’s ability to “warm-up” the brain and help it process information more efficiently. Further studies showed that the musics improvement on cognition was only slight. Still, even a slight improvement in memory and comprehension as a side-effect of consistently meditating with music is nothing to sneeze at.
9. Music Can Help You Eat Less
Meditating with music can help you maintain or lose weight as music’s effects on stress and mood can help alleviate the emotional reasons for overeating. When you combine the benefits of meditation with the benefits of music you can experience amazing changes.
10. Music Stimulates Creativity
Some of my best articles, and ideas come to me just after meditating and music can compound that effect even more. Studies show that happy music encourages divergent or creative thinking.
Types Of Music Used In Meditation
There are many categories and sub-categories of music online, thanks to YouTube videos, Spotify, iTunes and the like. For simplicity’s sake we will look into the classification of music for meditation before the internet era and classify the modern stuff under the category ‘New Age’.
Primordial Sounds and Chants
This is the oldest and most fundamental form of meditation music out there. Starting from the ancient Tibetan and Celtic ceremonial chants and sounds to the solemn murmuring if Gregorian monks, this style of music shaped and evolved meditation among different cultures for thousands of years. If you hadn’t had the chance to try this particular music genre before, you can try this excellent Viking chant music video on YouTube.
Almost as old as the primordial sounds and chants, instrumental music has also been incorporated into meditation for thousands of years. Instrumental music has the strongest capabilities to draw out your emotions through the beautiful and raw compositions devoid of words. Just try out this amazing soundtrack from the popular YouTube channel YellowBrickCinema to understand what I mean.
Sounds Of Nature
Nature sounds are a common staple among meditation practitioners. The sounds of water beating over rocks, rain, or birds chirping is incredibly peaceful and makes for a pleasant meditation experience. I personally meditate using the guided meditation app called Calm. Although Calm largely offers guided meditations, I primarily listen to their sounds-only meditation and my favorite is rainfall.
Affirmation meditations are affirmations recited over a soothing melody. The benefit of affirmation meditations is two-fold. The melody helps your relax into a deep meditation. And, while you’re relaxed you more easily receive affirmations that boost your mood even more.
Classical Indian Music
Classical Indian music and Tibetan monastery music has one thing in common; both were born out of attempts to fuse meditation with music. To be honest, I’ve found more than a few classical Indian soundtracks outlandish and high pitched for my test but there are some really beautiful classical Indian soundtracks for meditation such as this one composed by some of the most renowned Indian classical maestros.
If you’re religious and prefer to listen to religious meditations, there are loads of them available to you. For example, Christian music tracks for meditation such as this one will definitely help you focus your thoughts on God and feeling good while meditating.
New Age Music
Much of new age music is created with “zoning out” in mind. Oftentimes what we refer to as new age music can be any of the above-mentioned types of music combined with digital sounds and sound effects.
New age music was initially popularized by Yanni and Enya during the mid-eighties and countless other musicians since then has dedicated their talents to creating a versatile range of New Age music since then.