When we meditate, we don’t tend to associate it with doing something else, as meditation on its own is a standalone practice that serves us to relax the mind and body, as well as synchronize the two.
But there’s been a division of opinion when it comes to meditating with music, but in the end, there’s not exactly a black and white answer to this question, because it will vary from person to person.
Some may never get to experience a full immersive meditation without relying on music because they’ve associated meditation with something that only can be pleasant with music.
In this article, you’ll get some perspectives as to why you may want to meditate with music or why you should stay away from it.
The short answer is that if you can keep your focus on music, meditating with music shouldn’t be a problem, but it doesn’t make sense for most people to meditate with music.
It’s worth noting that meditation is quite broad, if you ask the average Dan that doesn’t know about the topic much how they see meditation, they may assimilate it as a relaxing practice with no deep spiritual meaning, whereas if you ask someone that’s been at it for years, you’ll often get a different answer.
But for the general consensus of what meditation is and what it’s aimed to achieve, we’ll define it as a deep relaxation practice where you can feel a deep connection with yourself, as well as a connection between your body and mind. Something often referred to as mindfulness meditation, which often isn’t done with music.
Sometimes, it really does take music for you to experience these benefits to the degree that it’s advertised, at least, at the beginning.
Music Can Interrupt The Immersion
While I’m not telling you whether you should or shouldn’t meditate with music, doing the practice with music can divert your attention from the meditation, and rather than focusing on the silence and peace meditation is supposed to bring you, your mind starts wandering off. This is because you’re not teaching your mind anything new.
Your mind is already acquainted with listening to music, so even if you’re just sitting there, thinking you’re meditating on music, in reality, you may be just sitting there listening to music and zoning out, tricking your mind into thinking you’ve achieved a deep level of relaxation.
This is quite common in meditation, especially with new practitioners. It’s over a span of months that your mind gets better at realizing when you’ve zoned out and is able to bring your awareness back into the present and meditation practice, to begin with.
The whole concept of mindfulness consists of being able to look at yourself from a third-person perspective, in this case by staring at your thoughts.
And later on, apply it to your day-to-day life. Which in turn, can help you to live a better life by, for instance, not taking things personally during a hard situation or being able to separate from suffering. Mindfulness is notorious for being able to train an individual’s detachment.
However, all this effort goes to waste if no concentration is placed on the meditation at the time of doing it. Music gives us something to focus on, which for some, can be beneficial when there are many things to focus on.
However, when we observe our thoughts, we’re tapping into new territory, something more personal, something of us. Meditation can be a surprising experience because you’re not ready for what thoughts you’ll stumble upon.
Each meditation can be different and changes can be observed in our thoughts over time. But meditating with music can make the meditation somewhat more monotone and predictable, not allowing us to tap into new territory.
The whole idea of meditation is disconnection, but music, because of its physical nature and not being a thought emanating from ourselves, isn’t always gonna teach us something new, to the same degree our thoughts are.
That’s not to say it can’t. But music adds another variable to focus on, aside from our thoughts in which sense, which can make the meditation harder to do.
As we’re exploring both sides of meditating with or without music, it’s not advised to meditate to normal music that’s constantly changing tone, because it easily makes the mind distracted.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, for instance, some people work out to music that’s constantly changing, and because there’s no strict meditation on meditation having to be a certain way, it could still count as meditation, just not in the traditional sense.
That is, if we base this thought on the idea that anything can be meditation. However, when we talk about meditation, while it has a broad definition, if we’re talking about the one that immerses you and allows you to explore places that you weren’t aware of, the meditation that expands your consciousness, you’ll want to keep your focus limited.
If your focus is scattered across different places, such as constantly changing music and meditation, your concentration suffers and thus, the meditation experience becomes one of less quality.
But that’s not to say you can’t meditate on music. Music tailored to meditation may complement the meditation perfectly.
I mentioned constantly changing music for a reason as that one is obviously disrupting the focus for most people, but music that’s consistent and maintains one rhythm can be of help. This type of music tends to be instrumental music or some kind of calming melody that allows you to keep a flow state.
The key is finding that balance where you feel a connection between your body and mind. There are those that won’t find peace in meditation without music, and there’s a good reason for that.
When Music and Meditation Are Necessary
Some live in a distracted environment constantly, and find it hard to relax their mind. For those individuals, it makes sense to meditate on music or sounds. Such as, for instance, white noise.
Or perhaps the sound of a waterfall. At this point, more than meditating on music it becomes meditating to sound. If we think of music with meditation in the sense of pop, rock, or anything that’s mainstream, that’s something that doesn’t go hand in hand with meditation.
If you’re, however, in spite of the music, still able to concentrate on the meditation and notice any benefits over the span of months despite meditating with music, you can continue that route.
So long as you feel like the music is required for your environment and complements the meditation, you’re fine and should, by all means, continue listening to it.
Guided meditations will sometimes use music, sounds, or melodies to relax their students. And with guided meditation, you’re given a clear blueprint to walk to achieve a certain result, you can even achieve deep levels of relaxation.
Someone may have a soothing voice that would be calming to you, in which sense, as long as you feel the effects of it, you shouldn’t stop. Anything that’s working for you, you should want to continue despite what you’ve heard about meditation having to be done a certain way. Some guided meditations even have a high success rate with many students returning.
Silence and Meditation
Silence is hard to stand for many people. There are some that meditate from a humming noise they make. Some need some sort of sound to meditate or keep their attention, many times because they haven’t taught their mind to be in complete silence. But in that sense, meditation can be an opportunity for that.
Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash
Meditation in the truest sense, when looking back at the traditional definition, it was done without music. And they were doing just fine.
Music is something experimental that many have been trying out to combine with meditation, even if it doesn’t belong to what meditation is supposed to be like.
But then again, what I’m saying here applies to most that are meditating, and may not necessarily apply to you. You are meditating correctly if you see changes that speak to what your goal is with meditation.
There’s something inexplicable about silence and meditation, something that it’s hard to achieve with music. When you disconnect your senses and just “be” as it’s often said in meditation, you open yourself to new experiences that you’d consider out of this world.
The idea is getting to that stage where you find peace within yourself and are able to disconnect.
That disconnection can often only be achieved in silence. Those who meditate with music can of course, feel good, but not meditate in a way that lets them connect with themselves. There are of course exceptions to that, for instance, guided meditation, as mentioned earlier.
Music Is External, Meditation Is Internal
When you learn to meditate with music, and you get used to it, you give your power away to something external to control your meditation experience. Even when you’re capable of doing meditation on your own.
This is a reason why mindfulness meditation is so popular because it’s arguably the easiest meditation to do and one of the most efficient ones. If you rely on music for your experience, you could deep down feel less confident in your ability to meditate, all because you think you would do it wrong.
But meditation can be a process of trial and error where you find peace within yourself, and don’t look for something external to find that peace, even if what you look for externally isn’t necessarily bad for you.
By now, you already know that the mind is already acquainted with listening to music, so you don’t open yourself up to any foreign experience you would’ve otherwise opened yourself to with meditation where you focus on your breathing or the present moment.
The less you externalize your meditation experience, the more you achieve the purpose of what a traditional deep immersive meditation is supposed to be like. But there’s nothing wrong with meditating with music, especially not if you’re starting out.
This is just to shine a light on the perspective that there’s an independent you capable of meditating with the help of no one but yourself.
That thought alone can be comforting for many who have a preconceived notion of what meditation should be like, but don’t understand the fundamental part that meditation is an experience of you where you know what works best for you in a quest to find the sweet spot flow state with meditation.
Earlier I mentioned that meditation music can be great if you’re starting out, and over time, learn to meditate without relying on music. But an alternative to that is combining meditation in silence with meditation and music.
Do each separately over the span of a few months. You may notice a change in a matter of days. But feel free to take a step back and observe your reaction to meditation with and without music.
Your ability to sustain focus is something you’ll want to take note of when doing the two. As it’s often the core aspect that meditation is supposed to improve.
If you see no changes whatsoever in your focus during the meditation or after the meditation, then it’s an indication that you should take a step back and ask yourself whether the meditation you’re doing is working for you.
Make sure the meditation in question is immersive, as that’s what often keeps people staying with the practice, or abandoning the practice when there’s no immersion.
Obviously, you don’t have to stick with meditation and music if after a few days you feel no different at all. Normally, it does take a few months to see any results with meditation, but to play it safe, my recommendation is to not use mediation and music, unless the music is tailored for mediation or you’re doing it as part of guided meditation.
The mind needs to experience meditation for it to not be seen as sitting still doing nothing. So how you respond to a certain mediation will be your best guide in whether you should pursue it or not.
There isn’t an exact science on how long you should pursue a type of mediation to determine its effectiveness, as there’s a lot of subjectivity to it, some are able to see results in just a matter of days. But your observation on your reaction to mediation with and without music will often be a good guide.