The first answer to meditation with music or without, has to be that your meditation belongs to you, so there are no set rules stopping you from doing it exactly how you feel best resonates with you.
But . . . having got that out of the way, there’s quite a lot of interesting matter to take into account if you’re contemplating whether to meditate to music or not.
And the answer, you’ll find, is quite often divided right down the middle.
There’s the side that says music is relaxing and improves the quality of their meditation and the side who say that true meditation which reaches into the depth of your inner mind only takes place in silence, and that music is a distraction which will lessen the quality of the meditation.
It’s just one of the questions on what to focus on while meditating.
So let’s look at it in a bit more depth to answer whether to choose to meditate with music.
And if you think you can’t meditate, think again because everybody can learn to meditate.
Table of Contents
Can I Meditate with Music?
You may ask Is there a wrong way to meditate? but actually it’s more about finding the right way for you for where you’re at on your journey at this moment in time.
For example, if you’ve ever wondered whether it’s ok to meditate with eyes open, the answer is yes, it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right way for everyone.
Some people may think there’s a set of rules which you must follow in order to get meditation right. That they absolutely have to behave in a certain way, or otherwise they won’t be meditating in the right way.
But actually, there are nuances rather than right or wrong ways to meditate.
For example, the question of whether to set a timer while meditating will depend on each situation. It can be positive just as it can be negative.
Bodhipaksta, who’s been a meditation teacher and practising buddhist since 1982, points out that music in meditation is a modern concept, that it’s nowhere to be found in the ancient practises of buddhism or meditation.
So does that make it wrong?
Beneath the umbrella of what can be called meditation, there’s a huge amount of information that can be studied, along with plenty of deep traditional practices and spiritual paths. And then there’s the more modern approach of using meditation more for relaxation and stress release without the associated studying and learning.
And the word meditation covers them all.
So the answer to the question may depend on what your motivation for meditation is, what you hope to get from it, and how you connect with your meditation practice.
Is this the Right Meditation for Me?
When you sit and meditate (with music or without), ask yourself; does my practice make me calmer, more loving, more focussed and more mindful?
Does it bring me closer to myself and open my mind up to more insightfulness?
If it does, you’re on the right track, but conversely, if it doesn’t lead you in the right direction, don’t immediately think it’s the wrong way to meditate.
For most of us, beginning a meditation practice takes time to get into.
You might just need to practise for a bit more time, or more regularly before you start to feel the benefits, rather than the actual practice being at fault.
Ultimately, if your meditation doesn’t move you in a peaceful and beneficial direction, you may want to try a different style to see if it resonates more.
And you may wonder how to meditate on a question to seek insight into a situation if you’re not sure which way to turn, and it can be done of course.
Many times during or just after meditation the answer to something will pop into your head, clear as daylight.
So don’t be afraid to play around with your meditation preferences, but whenever you try new methods, give them a few weeks to see how they pan out.
Why Meditate With Music?
- Meditating with music may be easier for you if you’re just starting out with meditation, as music can both calm and distract the busy mind from thought and in doing so, help to reduce the inner chatter.
- By choosing soft music which you already like, you can start your meditation with the anticipation of relaxation and pleasure and this can take away some of the initial apprehension over starting to meditate.
- Music is can raise your mood, release stress, reduce anxiety and bring you a feeling of overall calmness.
- Listening to music can be a great way to practice being mindful, and you may like to treat your meditation as a mindfulness meditation focussing on the music and turning your session into a music meditation of its own right rather than a meditation with music (see more on this further down).
- If you’re meditating in a noisy environment, music can help to stop the mind from being distracted by the noise (although meditating with noise around you can also be a great way to strengthen your meditation practice).
Why Meditate Without Music?
- Traditional meditation’s either practised in silence or with the natural ambience sounds from nature, such as bird song, the buzz of insects and the sound of flowing water from a nearby river.
- For a more authentic, spiritual experience, you may prefer to try meditating in silence, without music.
- If you practise mantra meditation or focus on your breath while meditating, playing music can make your mind multitask and dilute the experience as well as distracting you from reaching a deep spiritual connection with your inner self when you meditate.
- Music can conjure up thoughts and images and take you down paths of imagination, further weakening your meditative experience.
- Ultimately, meditating with or without music is a personal choice and neither are inherently right or wrong, they’re just two different ways to achieve two different things.
Which is More Effective, Meditation With Music or Without?
Meditation with music and meditation without music are both effective for different people, different moments, and different outcomes. Both are equally effective at achieving their respective things.
Meditation with music is generally very effective for increasing relaxation and for mindfulness meditation, which are incredibly effective practices.
Meditation without music is preferred by many who want to achieve a heightened state of consciousness through traditional meditation methods.
Music isn’t considered beneficial for mantra meditation or transcendental meditation where the sound of the music may cause your brain to multitask, thus creating a barrier to the practice.
Meditation with Music for Relaxation
In today’s world of stress and rushing and balancing different aspects of your life while multitasking between home and family or our working life, it’s no wonder we end up living in our heads, often missing much of the day because we’re living in the future or the past.
Taking 30 minutes out of your day to sit quietly in a comfortable position and meditate with some gentle music that you love can bring essential benefits such as reducing stress hormones and offering an immersive relaxation that in turn can help with anxiety related disorders.
Meditation with Music for Mindfulness
Instead of sitting down to meditate while listening to music, you may choose to actually make the music your mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness is about learning to become fully present in the moment, and aware of everything happening around us, as well as our emotional and physical reactions.
By choosing to sit in a quiet place and be completely mindfully present with the music we can use the music as a mindfulness meditation.
Practising in this way, you’re free to choose whichever music you like listening to best, as the focus will be on your awareness, rather than on relaxing or achieving a particular state of mind, other than being non-judgemental and accepting of everything as it arises.
If you want to practise mindfulness while listening to rap or to rock, and if that’s your thing, go ahead and see how you feel. (It will usually be easier to remain mindful with quieter music though.)
Many people ask how long it takes to learn mindfulness, but think of it more as a process rather than a finishing point. When you practise mindfulness, you’ll get more and more skilled at it over time but there won’t be a moment when you say; ‘That’s it, I’ve finished my training and I’ve passed the test of mindfulness!’
How to Meditate With Music for Relaxation
Meditating with music can be a relaxing experience and let’s face it, we’re not all, always after a spiritually deep experience.
Sometimes a nourishing and relaxing session can work wonders for the rest of our day.
Choosing Your Meditation Music
When choosing your music, if possible, listen a track or so before you start, so that you know it will resonate with you.
Go for slower paced, calming music. Music without lyrics is less distracting, but if there is a vocal involved, mantras would be better than actual singing lyrics which could distract your mind and start you off thinking.
It’s important that the music doesn’t irritate you, which could pull you out of your meditation but by the same token, it shouldn’t be a favourite from the past which will take you down memory lane and maybe trigger the thinking process.
If you have some music which you already listen to and feel will help you to relax, perfect. Otherwise you can search the genre of meditation music online for plenty of options. You can also find music with ambience sounds like water and bees etc.
As you sit quietly, allow the music to envelope you without it actually creating thoughts. If you find thoughts popping into your mind, return your attention back to the music.
Allow the music to be the back drop for your breathing. When you first start out, you might find 10 minutes is enough to start, gradually building it up to 20-30 minutes.
There’s no one type of music which you have to choose but here are a couple which I like listening to while meditation, on the odd occasions when I do listen to music while mediating.
The sound of inner peace by Paradise Tonight is a soft music with ambient sounds of running water along with 528 Hz frequency. Although I like to meditate to silence, this music is one I would definitely listen to when choosing to meditate to music.
It’s a personal thing and that’s just me!
Music Video By Mindfulness Meditation Music
Tibeten Healing Sounds to remove all negative energy and increase mental strength is an even calmer and more inwardly focussed music, one which I definitely enjoy listening too.
This one’s also good if you want to practise just before falling asleep. You can start out meditating and allow yourself to drift off to the gentle background sounds.
How to Practise Music Meditation for Mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation is about cultivating mindfulness in daily activities. You can practise mindfulness when you’re in conversation with your neighbour for example, and you choose to focus entirely on what is being said and the emotions shared.
Or you may practise eating mindfully. In fact, becoming mindful can end up changing your food choices as you begin to recognise the relationship between mindfulness and a vegan diet.
Learning to live mindfully can not only open up so many more experiences for us to enjoy, which before we rushed passed and missed out on, but also stimulates areas of the brain, encouraging more self control and peace in the face of turmoil.
By practising mindfulness while listening to music, you commit to being totally present to the reactions in your body and mind in response to the music.
You can choose whatever music you most love listening to. It doesn’t have to be particular meditation music as you’re simply training yourself to become completely immersed in and conscious of, the music.
Try it for just one song at first, then gradually build it up. Make sure not to multitask as you practise mindfulness to music.
Getting Comfortable for Meditation With Music or Without
Find a place where you’ll be comfortable and without distractions for your meditation. This might be sitting in an armchair, cross legged on a cushion on the floor, or even lying down on your bed or yoga mat (as long as you don’t think you’ll fall asleep and miss the meditation!)
Switch off your mobile phone or put it onto silent and ask people in your home not to interrupt you. Try to leave any thoughts or agitations at the doorway to your room. If you have something pending that’s playing on your mind, write it on a list so that you can let go of it from your mind for the time being.
Turn the lights down low and begin to breath deeply, feeling the air fill your belly first, then your chest before releasing the breath. Concentrate on the in and out breath as you relax into the moment and then, when you’re ready to begin, start to play the music.
Final Thoughts on Meditation With Music or Without
Meditation is a huge doorway leading to the next step in your self discovery journey and with each step along your path, you’ll find yourself at a different moment of your life. Your needs, your self awareness, your personal growth and your individual tendencies, will all be unique according to every single little piece of the puzzle.
Meditation covers each and every one of those billions of differences that we have between us as individuals and between ourselves from one moment to the next.
So it would be foolish to discard meditation with music just because it’s a more modern version of meditation, just as it would be a disservice to ourselves if we discard traditional silent meditation as being too spiritual, or too woo woo.
The truth is, every moment that we allow ourselves to meditate is a gift to self development, and the more tools we have in our tool box, the more valuable will be our gifts.
So go ahead and enjoy music in your meditation and also practise silent meditation and I’m sure you’ll come to see the benefits of both.
Will one method resonate with your more? Probably.
And that’s exactly how it should be.