I have often been asked to comment on music as a tool to access the deeper realms of meditation. Each person who meditates has their own way of attuning themselves to their inner dialogue. What might be a very calming and reflective piece for one person may sound jarring or distracting for someone else. Perhaps using a small water fountain is pleasing. For other people total silence is key. For many people music can be a great way to help them focus or even to heal. The right music can relax us or actually evoke brain wave frequencies associated with meditative states.
Why would we use music for meditation? There are a couple reasons why I often use it in my classes:
One, it can help block ambient sound, so there's less distraction.
Secondly I believe that musical frequencies, some of which are actually designed to help induce a meditative state, help us to entrain our brains, and even our internal organs to certain levels of frequency that is meditative and opening. I like to sometimes meditate listening to music and I try to imagine that the sound is penetrating and filling the spaces between each cell in my body.
Thirdly, music that is repetitious helps create the one-pointed focus that is the very definition of meditation.
Finally, familiar music played during meditation can reinforce in a suggestive or Pavlovian way the act of sitting in meditation. If you are listening to some music and get fully relaxed while you meditate, then the next time you hear that music it will remind you of what it feels like to be in that state and make re-entry easier.
To find music that you might enjoy, you can look at my website for a partial list of music that I have used during my meditation classes. You can also explore by going to bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and listening to some of the New Age pieces that are available. There you can get a sense of what the music is going to sound like before you purchase. You can also do that on Amazon and sound healing websites such as Soundstrue.com and HealingSounds.com. Another site is HealingProducts.com which offers a wide choice of music and especially the powerful works of sound healer Tom Kenyon.
And for many, traditional spiritual music such as hymns or classical instrumentals is another option. In 1994, the album, Chant, a recording of traditional Gregorian chants from the Catholic Mass, became a surprise world-wide best seller. Recently, I was given a CD entitled The Magic of Gayatri, a beautiful modern recording of an ancient prayer mantra that includes the story of how the Gayatri continues to inspire the composer. One third of proceeds from the sale of the CD goes to support an orphanage in India for blind children.
Also on my website list is some music to assist with certain kinds of healing. For instance, there is a crystal bowl healing album that is used by an oncologist in his practice that he thinks it is helpful to the healing process. There are some others engineered to entrain our brains to specific frequencies for meditation or even the delta sleep frequency. These can be particularly helpful when you're traveling.
Last spring I had the pleasure of attending a short afternoon workshop conducted by Lenore L. Wiand, PhD. Her CD, called Ancient Spirits was used in a study (see Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine, Volume 17, Number 3, Page 249) to assess the effects of Native American flute music on people who had experienced trauma. Its formless melody seems to lead the mind and body towards deep relaxation, expanded awareness and a sense of interconnectedness. For some it is transformative. Dr.Wiand recommends, when listening to the CD for the first time, to just listen to the first track and to wait up to a week before listening again. It certainly seems to stay with the listener.
In conclusion, use music you are drawn to. Do a little research and a little experimenting. When you find something, use it as much as you like, but remember, as with all meditation, don't get too attached to it. We all need to learn how to be connected to our most peaceful self no matter where we are or what we might be hearing. The real learning comes from the voice that bubbles up from the deeper silence of the inner self.
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