Meditation and Music
Music and chanting have been part of meditation and spiritual practices for a very long time. Our tribal ancestors spent many an evening together chanting and making music as a spiritual ritual, bringing togetherness, oneness and connection to spirit.
These days we are so privileged to have easy access to vast music libraries, and this music can help us so much in our meditations. Of course the music needs to be conducive to going within and to closely match what you need in that particular meditation.
Listening to music can be such a powerful thing to do, helping us to calm down and relax, open our heart, mind, and our body. This opening can bring us healing from past hurts and pain and music can inspire us to move through suppressed or denied feelings. When listening to music, one can truly enter a meditative state and when in your actual meditation, music can add so much to your experience.
In meditation, the music can create and stimulate an energy which can carry us. Music can be such a great tool to support the work of going within. However, it can, as with everything, also become an obstacle when not used in the best way, or when used as a crutch, like only ever meditating with music and never in silence. There are appropriate times for music in meditation, and there are times for silence.
We can practice meditation with or without music, each having its appropriate place in or lives. For some people who have only practiced meditation in silence, it can be challenging to try music in meditation, especially when there are also vocals in the music. To gain the full benefits of music in meditation one must try it and try it again, and again. If a person tries it once or twice and decides it’s not for them, then they are not open enough to keeping going and to seeing what amazing things can happen for them.
Thus, it is always important to be open regarding everything in meditation. For someone who is not used to meditation with music, it takes a little bit of perseverance until they experience for themselves the incredible benefits.
Try the following:
When going into meditation, try to not listen to the lyrics of the song or follow the mood or energy of the music. Your meditation is going on much deeper then that. Go deeper then the music. Let the music create that ambience, an energy to hold the space for spiritual endeavour in your focus and desire. You will soon on forget about the music and travel within so deep to places unknown.
Music in meditation is intended to be like “wind beneath your wings”. Music supports our meditation by creating a feeling and an energy which actually speeds up our meditations, allowing us to go further and deeper, and to get more from our time in meditation. The energy of the music can catapult us into deeper states of spiritual desire and longing which in turn creates a movement of opening, deepening, and connection. Music conveys emotion through melodies and words. Musical instruments and human voices have pitch, timbre and tone that are vibrations stimulating emotion and wonder. Music can help us to open our hearts, bodies, and minds and can bring us healing. Through feeling the emotion of music, we can experience the opening of our heart and the freedom of our soul. Music can help bring us closer to our experience of unconditional love and divine love.
What music to play in meditation
There are many different styles and genres of music, so there are many different emotional openings that can happen in meditation through music. Not all music is suitable for meditation. There is a strong need for music that produces depth, no matter what genre. It has been scientifically proven that different music has different effects on the brain and body. It is also scientifically proven that healing can come from certain vibrational frequencies. Music can bring tremendous healing on a physiological level.
It is important to choose the right kind of music that the moment calls for. If one is sad and needs to feel sadness to its core to get through something, then they could play some sad songs in meditation. If there is frustration or anger that needs to move, play some aggressive rock or metal music and get into and through those feelings in a safe yet freeing way. If you want to open your heart more, then play music that touches you deeply. If you want to relax, play deeply relaxing music. If you want to feel devotion, play devotional music. Vocals in music can be very helpful. We humans are so individual; to one person a particular song might bring some kind of trigger that seems to have a negative connotation, and to another person the same song can bring an incredibly positive experience. Again it is important to go through whatever the experience arises for you in meditation.
The most effective music for my meditation work is not music I would necessarily choose to listen to or even like for pleasure, however playing it in meditation can carry me through something so profound and it encourages me to go much deeper.
Another benefit of music in meditation is that it can help so much with the mind. Music can help people with a busy mind. It can help nervous or uptight people to relax and let go. A side benefit is that while the brain is processing the music, it can help as a way to guide the ego-mind aside, so that our meditation can proceed with much less interference from the mind. Let the music help you!
With the support of music we can meditate for extended periods of time, such as a few hours, that can be very helpful towards going deep and advancing far in your meditations. This is how music in meditation can be an incredible support towards vast spiritual advancement. When the music is over, there can be such a beautiful peace and depth that can bring us to deep tranquility and even deeper into our spiritual connection. The music in meditation is intended to help us to let go, open up and go deep.
Chanting & Mantras in meditation
When situated within, it can be very helpful to make a sound with your vocal cords. In mankind’s history, many tribes have practiced chanting to bring them to a deeper spiritual connection. Today, many people know about the “Om” where one can chant “Om” and linger on the hum of the “Mmmmm” sound.
Another excellent mantra is “Supreme Almighty, Almighty Supreme” - a powerful present day mantra. These are two examples, but there are so many other possibilities with mantras and chanting. By focussing on the repetition of the same words or sounds, repeating them over and over and over for some time, you can experience a kind of “Pop”, a phenomenon where the mind lets go, or something within us releases, and the chant seems to take on a life of its own. It happens effortlessly when one is in the flow. So many different things can happen for you from chanting and you will know when your time of chanting comes to an end because it will feel natural to finish. Now in this depth so much else can happen for you!
If your desire is to come closer to God, to connect more deeply with the Divine, chanting is a way to express this desire in a devotional way. The chanting focuses your mind on God and your devotional heart keeps calling out. Some time during the practice the mind lets go, and deeply personal experiences with spirit can occur.
Through chanting, you can also become more connected to yourself, more present and less repressed, especially in the vocal area. Chanting is an essential part of becoming spiritually freed-up. Try it!
The LET GO! Meditation
Your ability to let go directly and immediately affects the quality of your life and your state of consciousness. In so many moments in our lives we just need to let go. Every day in the life of a human being requires letting go just to deal with and process what happens during that particular day. Also, when you want to discover what your ego is and how to get free from its binding nature, there is a great and deep letting go that needs to happen.
How does one let go? When you meditate and you are sitting or lying on the floor, you can have music playing which helps you to move inside. This movement helps your inner letting go. Now the mood and energy in your meditation space can become elevated when the music is elevated. So for example, you could put on a few dance songs and continue your meditation by standing up and moving your body. This movement can become what one could call a dance meditation.
The important thing to know and to practice is that this is a meditation, which means your focus is inward. Your body moves and you are meditating and letting go! Practiced correctly, this can be a powerful and transformative aspect of your meditations.
Some key points for a powerful dance meditation:
- When you dance stay within. Keep your eyes closed if your in a space that is safe to do so, like not hurting yourself by bumping into things.
- Connect strongly to your spiritual desire, your longing.
- Whilst situated in your heart, allow your self to feel and express all your feelings. Feel free to be authentic. Stop thinking and feel.
- If you get pulled back in the mind, get back to your heart.
- Let the movement take you over. Become absorbed in the feeling of freeing yourself of any self absorption and letting go.
- Find that prayer in your heart that you might have been afraid to pray.
In some meditations you might connect to an inner warrior. It is a dance of connecting to your strength and courage. Sometimes you let go in extravagant ways, getting your self out of your mind as you let the dance take over your body, there is a feeling of surrender and coming home to yourself. At times you connect to the energy as your body lets go to the music, you might feel a sensual feeling awakening you. Trust! And sometimes you let go so deeply that the dance and the dancer become one.
A most beautiful way to describe this way of meditating is this poem.
“Consciousness expresses itself through creation.
This world we live in is the dance of the creator.
Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on.
On many, an occasion, when I'm dancing,
I've felt touched by something sacred.
In those moments, I've felt my spirit soar and become
one with everything that exists.
I become the stars and the moon.
I become the lover and the beloved.
I become the victor and the vanquished.
I become the master and the slave.
I become the singer and the song.
I become the knower and the known...
I keep on dancing and then, it is the eternal dance of creation.
The creator and creation merge into one wholeness of joy.
I keep on dancing, and dancing, and dancing,
until there is only... the dance.”
A silent or monk meditation
As there is time for music in meditation, there is time for silence in meditation. Are there any rules? No: it is for you to discover by applying yourself, experimenting, and learning and what music and sound does for you in your meditation.
The silent meditation is a practice where you cultivate inner stillness and awareness without the use of external guidance or distractions. It is a time for you to connect with your own inner wisdom and observe the present moment without any external influences.
During silent meditation, you are encouraged to find a comfortable posture, whether sitting or lying down, and gently close your eyes. The focus of this practice is to bring your attention to the present moment, observing your thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they arise, without judgment or attachment, just as explained in the observation quote we studied previously.
“Begin a careful observation of all that you do and all that you think.
Do not judge it by thinking “this is good” or “this is bad”.
Simply observe it.
Pay attention and notice how observing it changes your consciousness.
If you approach your difficulties in this way, then what you really desire will grow and what you do not desire will diminish."
In silent meditation, you could anchor your attention on a specific point of focus, such as your breath, an inner mantra, or the sensations in your body. This point of focus serves as an anchor to bring your attention back whenever your mind starts to wander. I personally rest my focus in my heart, on the very reason why I sit down and meditate.
As you go within, you may notice various thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations arising. The goal is not to suppress or control them but to observe them with a sense of curiosity and non-judgment. Allow them to come and go, like passing clouds in the sky, while gently redirecting your attention back to your chosen point of focus.
Silent meditation provides an opportunity to cultivate a deeper connection with yourself, to develop self-awareness, and to tap into your inner stillness and intuition. It can help you develop a sense of self bringing calm, clarity, and presence in your daily life.
Remember, silent meditation is a personal practice, and each individual's experience will vary. Approach your meditation with an open mind and without any expectations. It is okay if your mind wanders or if you find it challenging to stay focused. With regular practice and patience, you will gradually deepen your ability to be present and find peace within the silence.
As with all meditations, there is no right or wrong way to practice. The journey of self-discovery and inner stillness is unique for each individual and will vary each time you go within.
- Music can be a powerful tool to support the work of going within.
- Music can, as with everything, be an obstacle when not used in the best way, or when used as a crutch - meaning only meditating with music. There are appropriate times for music in meditation, and there are times for silence.
- Music supports our meditation by creating a feeling and an energy which actually speeds up our meditations, allowing us to go further and deeper ,and to get more from our time in meditation.
- It is important to choose the right kind of music that the moment calls for.
- Chanting is an essential part of becoming spiritually freed-up.
- Let Go for a better life!
MEDITATION EXERCISE 2
Start to experiment with music in your meditations. When listening to the music, observe yourself. Ask yourself:
• What does music do for me in meditation?
• What music is most effective, and helps me most in finding my way within or going deeper?
• When does music feel like an obstacle for me?
• When I listen to music as I am meditating: Is my desire/prayer leading me or is the music guiding me?
• Does certain music or a song have a certain effect on me whilst in meditation? (e.g when I play this song I always cry)
• Are certain songs/music genres more effective than others?
• When should I play music in meditation and when not?
Schedule and do two silent meditations this week.