Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Free

Is Listening to Music a Form of Meditation?

Yes, but it's best if you tune into the natural soundtrack of your life, not Billboard Hot 100. Here's how to practice the mindfulness of sound.

0 41
Author Image
Meditation Advisor
SHARE:

After leading meditation class, I’ll often ask participants about their experience and, on occasion, one will respond, “Do you ever play music during meditation?” Usually, I’ll discover in a brief conversation with this person that they have trouble sitting quietly with their own mind and breath. I totally get that. If someone tells me that they have trouble focusing or they are bored during their meditation practice, I am always the bearer of bad news: Meditation can, indeed, be hard and boring. Sorry (not sorry).

The good news is this isn’t always the case. One experience may feel boring or exhausting, but not all. You can—and will, if you stay with it—have many others that you enjoy. Some days your mind is very relaxed and creative; the next it may be filled with anxiety; the following simply restless and not wanting to focus. In that way, meditating is like taking your mind on a roller coaster; sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, and if you hang in there, you expe-rience both.

One of my favorite words for meditation in the Tibetan language is gom. Gom can be translated as “meditation,” but I prefer the direct translation, which is “familiarization.” When we board the meditation roller coaster, we must realize, we are becoming familiar with all of who we are, in-cluding the brilliant parts of ourselves and the neurotic parts as well. The more we become famil-iar with the totality of who we are, the more we befriend and, ultimately, accept ourselves com-pletely, instead of constantly trying to level up and be something else.

Music, too, can allow us to relax enough to remember who we are, much like meditation. Years ago, I surprised my then-girlfriend (now wife) when she came home by swooping her into my arms and dancing with her to John Legend’s “All of You” (it was the hit of the summer). This unforgettably sweet instance made it a natural choice for the first song at our recent wedding. The second the opening lines of the song played at our reception, the hundred or so friends and family disappeared, and I was back in that moment of just the two of us, intimately relaxing into one another. This is different than concentration meditation, where we aim to bring our focus back to an object, like the breath, over and over again. Here, I am talking about simple relaxation into a moment.

Where music and meditation come together, in my opinion, is when we talk about the mindful-ness of sound. In one meditation technique, we are instructed to bring our attention to the breath, but we also are supposed to bring our attention to everything else that we experience through our sense perceptions. That means feeling the body breathing right alongside noticing the color of the floor ahead of you, the smell of the incense burning, the feeling of the weight of your clothes on your skin, the taste of your saliva as you swallow and, perhaps most palpably, what you hear in the environment around you.

To return to the notion of “becoming familiar with,” this practice is not about lulling the mind into a state of ecstasy because you hear a lot of pleasant sounds. Instead, it’s about being there for reality as is. Yes, some nice sounds might pop up as you settle into your practice, like the snoring of your dog beside you. But if you live in a busy city as I do, you might hear your neigh-bors yelling at each other, too. We become familiar with all of it. Instead of rushing to give into the (very human) tendency to label things in the “I like this,” “I don’t like this,” and “I’m going to ignore this thank-you-very-much” categories, we can relax and be with all of the sound that is occurring.


Related: A Meditation to Enjoy the Great Outdoors


If you are interested in experimenting with this form of meditation, I recommend starting by just focusing on the breath for a period of time. If you are new to meditation, start with five minutes. If you are more experienced, go for 10. Open your senses up to the environment. It’s helpful to begin by listening to what you hear and then you can, at your own pace, expand into noticing what you see, smell, taste and even the feeling of touch.

Don’t get too lost in one aspect of your senses; this can be a holistic experience. You are aiming to be with all of what is happening in the present moment. If music is playing, great. If not, okay. When you get distracted and start thinking about your to-do list for the day, simply come back to feeling the body breathing, then expand outward to include your sense perceptions once more.

While music can be moving and powerful, and meditation can (at times) be the same, these are two things that serve different purposes. Yet, when we decide to bring our sense perceptions into our breath meditation, we are expanding our training by learning to be with our world on its own terms, as opposed to how we wish it were or how it used to be. That is a training in sound that is invaluable for everyday life.

By

SHARE:

Comments (0)

Load More

Find us on Instagram

@LIVESONIMA
  • We hope everyone is having a wonderful Saturday! Our founder, @soniayogi snapped this beautiful photo of her niece, Lizzy, who has been practicing since she was 8 years old.
  • We begin our practice of yoga with an opening prayer.
It is a time to direct our minds in a more positive way so that our whole lives become brighter and better. 
We have to respect each others’ practices as personal journeys but continue to support and uplift one another along the path. 
Through our daily practice, we fortify this intention. .
“When the mind is pure, and steady, and stable, then our actions will be pure, and steady, and stable.” - Sharath Jois .

You can read more words of wisdom from Paramaguru Sharath Jois on our website. 
Don’t forget to sign up for advanced notice to register for the 2019 Spring tour with Paramaguru Sharath Jois. 
See the link in our bio for details and leave your email 📧 🙏🏽.
.
.
.
@joisyogaencinitas @miamilifecenter @eddiestern @sharathjoisr @ashtangayogastanford 🙏🏽
.
.
Photo by @ifilmyoga 📸💜
.
.
.
  • Ths busy executive transformed his health with our 8-minute Elev8d Fitness workouts, and you can too. Read his story at the link in our bio. #LiveSonima
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#fitnesstips #workouttips #brianbradley #freefitness #bodyalighment #overallwellness #healthandwellness #toobusytoworkout #transformyourbody #changeyourlife #mindbodybalance #elev8dfitness #elev819 #healthyliving #livebetter
  • Save The Dates!  April 22 – May 16, 2019

We are so excited to announce that Paramaguru Sharath Jois will visiting America in the Spring! Join us at one of his yoga workshops taking place in California, Florida and New York. 
REGISTRATION OPENING SOON. 
Get all the details and stay up-to-date on how to sign up for advanced registration at Sonima.com

See the link in our bio!

Also Sponsored by @miamilifecenter @joisyogaencinitas &  Brooklyn Yoga Club 🙌🏼🙏🏽♥️
.
.
.
#sharathjoisusa2019
#sharathjois #guruji
#sharathtour2019 #ashtangayoga #ashtangapractice #ashtangavinyasa #ashtangalove
  • Are you curious about the diet that claims you’ll lose weight by eating more fat? Our nutritionist weighs in on everything you need to know about the ketogenic diet. Visit the link in our bio to read about this food trend that isn’t slowing down anytime soon. .
.
At the end of this article, you’ll find the recipe for these keto-approved, DELICIOUS, no-bake, vegan, gluten free enchiladas from @thehealthyapple! 😋#livesonima .
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 #keto #vegan #glutenfree #ketodiet #ketogenic #morefatlesscarbs #healthyliving #2019goals #foodie #healthyfoodie #healthyeeeeeats #ketofood #ketoapproved #ketogenicrecipes #ketorecipes
  • “Anyone can practice. Young man can practice, old man can practice, very old man can practice, the man who is sick, he can practice, the man who doesn’t have strength he can practice, except lazy people, lazy people can’t practice yoga.” - Sharath Jois - .

A clip from the documentary Ashtanga, NY - filmed in 2001 and released in 2003. 
This is Paramaguru Sharath Jois as a young man around age 29 reminding us of the wisdom taught by his grandfather.

Anyone who has the desire to practice yoga is able to learn and practice yoga. The only obstacle is our own inner inertia and laziness! .
Tomorrow is a new day! 
No more excuses... Get on your mat and start. .

To assist you, we offer several excellent classes of various lengths: 10 minute, 25 minute, or longer 45 - 55 minute classes with Sharath Jois featured on our website. .

Follow the link in our bio to practice along with him! 🙏🏽🙌🏼 @sharathjoisr . . . . .

Thank you to @mysorebarcelona and @mysoresheikhzayed for the original post of this short video clip. . . . . .
.
.
.
.
.
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!