‘Next to meditation is music. But it has to be soulful music, the music that stirs and elevates our aspiring consciousness. When we play soulful music, psychic music, then immediately we are transported to the highest realm of consciousness.’
This article will consider the benefits of using meditation music as part of our daily meditation practice. The mysterious power of music has been contemplated for thousands of years and countless books have been written on the subject but there is a consensus of opinion that music resonates with the deeper parts of our being. In our struggle to still the restless mind during meditation and especially in the early stages of learning, meditative music can be of tremendous help.
Many people who are inspired to learn to meditate have often attended a meditation class of some kind or read up on the subject. However, as soon as they sit down on their own and start trying to mediate they find themselves assailed by countless bothersome thoughts.
Perhaps you have chanted a few mantras, diligently tried some basic breathing exercises, maybe even visualised yourself on top of a serene Himalayan snow-capped peak, only to find the mind is still racing and the annoying thoughts seem, if anything, more plentiful than ever before. Sadly many people give up at this point , deciding that they are not meant for meditation or that it is simply impossible to calm the restless mind. This is a great moment to reach for a meditation cd or some meditative music.
We might think of meditation as similar to switching on the light in an untidy room, only to realise just how much things are in disarray. It soon becomes clear that everything was out of place before we switched on the light, only we were less aware of the disorder. As well as shedding light on what is out of place, meditation is also the energy and power to put it all back to normal. It can also be a very joyful and fulfilling process.
If we have been struggling to still our minds using the various techniques we have come across, then this is just when meditation music can be most helpful. It can take us directly into the world of meditation bypassing much of what we have been trying to grasp with our minds. We instinctively tend to overcomplicate what should be a natural process. As Sri Chinmoy says:
Our senses are restless. Therefore, our mind suffers. Our mind is doubtful. Therefore, our senses suffer. The mind has no capacity to bind or discipline the senses. Here music comes to the mind’s rescue. With the help of music, the mind binds and disciplines the senses and makes them into perfect instruments so they can be inundated with peace, light and bliss from above.Sri Chinmoy
Different kinds of meditation music
So what kind of meditation music should we use to help us with our meditation? Even a cursory search for meditation music on line will elicit a wide range of different kinds of music. It is useful to think of music in terms of being a reflection of the consciousness or state of mind of the performer, thus it is important to choose carefully the best meditative music available.
Some kinds of music are clearly not conducive to meditation. Witness the power of music to stir groups of people almost into a state of intoxication and how their behaviour may become disruptive and uncontrolled. In his early formulations of how an ideal society might be created, Plato viewed the role that music would play as being pivotal. It could be a potent force for either creating social harmony or discord.
Given the connection between music and consciousness it is always advisable to listen to music played by a spiritual teacher or people who practice meditation. They will be in a position to inspire you through their playing and help you progress in your meditation.
Soulful and spiritual music really helps us; it feeds our inner life. Music has tremendous power. With fire we can burn ourselves, or we can cook and do many other good things. It is the same with music. Divine music immediately elevates our consciousness, whereas undivine music immediately lowers our consciousness and tries to destroy our sincere inner cry for a better spiritual life. The spiritual person will immediately be affected by this music. So music can change our consciousness provided it is the music that comes from the heart and enters into the heart. The music that touches the very depth of our heart can elevate our consciousness.Sri Chinmoy
Music that ‘comes from the heart’
The quote above talks of music that ‘comes from the heart’. In our discussion of meditation, and particularly the approach considered here, you will come across this idea of focusing the energies on the heart. For a more detailed explanation of this see this article.
Many Eastern systems view the being as composed of different parts, thus in the simplest formulation we have the mind, body, heart, soul and the lower vital energies. The vital energy is the underlying life force or the essential powerhouse of our being. It is ‘lower’ not in a moral or judgmental way, rather in a structural sense just as the trunk might be the lower part of a huge tree, or a beautiful building is rooted in the ground with solid foundations. It is all part of the same essential ‘stuff’. The vital energy is naturally composed of powerful forces that can be both unruly and undisciplined as well as dynamic and progressive.
Music can be produced and transmitted from all these different parts of our being but for purposes of our meditation it is best that we choose the music of the heart or soul rather than the vital. We have to decide what inspires a yearning and love for something higher and what merely stimulates our lower nature. Ultimately this is our decision and may vary to a certain extent from person to person.
…if you want to make a comparison between music that comes from the dynamic vital and music that comes from the tempting or tempted vital, easily you can see the difference. From this other kind of music, you may get enthusiasm, but it is not the pure enthusiasm that will elevate your consciousness or spiritual life. While you are in that world of music, you will notice your consciousness going down, or you will find that it has gone down.Sri Chinmoy
Using meditative music in our meditation
Having a clearer idea of the kind of meditative music that will be suitable how do we now incorporate this into our meditation? This is the beauty of using music as there is really no specific technique that we need to worry about. This frees the mind from having to worry about the other techniques and leaves the elevating power of the music to do some of the work for us. We only need to allow ourselves to merge and identify with it and if thoughts come then we need not let them bother us unduly. Try to imagine you are the sky and any unwanted thoughts are just birds flying by, or else imagine you are a solid tree and the thoughts are merely the branches rustling in the breeze. As Sri Chinmoy says:
Let us not try to understand music
With our mind.
Let us not even try to feel it
With our heart.
Let us simply and spontaneously
Allow the music-bird to fly
In our heart-sky.
While flying, it will unconditionally
Reveal to us
What it has and what it is.
What it has
Is Immortality’s message
And what it is
Is Eternity’s passage.
At the same time we should not be complacent and it is important that, even though we are using meditation music, we still maintain the same focus and discipline as we would with the other meditation techniques that we have been trying out. We need to be in clean and quiet surroundings away from external distractions as far as possible, and also relaxed but maintaining as upright a posture as possible. This is an important step beyond just using music as a relaxing addition in the background whilst our minds are busy thinking more mundane thoughts.
Effort on some level is undoubtedly required but if we have been struggling with other approaches to enter into meditation then meditative music can really help us progress. Many more experienced practitioners of meditation report that it is what really helped them get started in the early stages.
When we listen to soulful music, or when we ourselves play soulful music, immediately our inner existence climbs up high, higher, highest. It climbs up and enters into something beyond. This Beyond is constantly trying to help us, guide us, mould us and shape us into our true transcendental image, our true divinity. When we hear soulful music, or when we play a soulful piece of music, we feel a kind of inner thrill in our entire existence, from the soles of our feet to the crown of our head. A river is flowing through us, a river of consciousness, and this consciousness is all the time illumined.Sri Chinmoy
Here is an exercise you could use to meditate using meditation music:
Exercise on how to become one with soulful meditation music
- Select some appropriate meditation music, for example you might like to try this meditation music free download.
- Adopt a suitable posture for meditation similar to what has been described earlier.
- Let the music wash over you as you focus on your breathing. As you breathe in imagine the breath is entering into your inner self. Really try to convince yourself that this is happening. Feel that a higher truth or reality is entering into you.
- As you breathe out try feel that you are breathing out everything that is blocking and standing in the way of this deeper inner self.
Further reading suggestion
To gain a deeper understanding of meditation music it is also highly recommended that you read some writings of an expert in meditation or from a real spiritual master. You might be interested to read:
God the Supreme Musician by Sri Chinmoy
available on line here: