Music for meditation can add an inspiring element to your mindful day or spiritual practice, whether you’re looking for a way to take your breath work to a deeper state of awareness, or are new to meditation and need help aligning with your higher self.
Through the ages, sacred music and soulful sounds have played a part in spiritual meditative traditions all over the world – they help to bring us closer to a feeling of universal oneness. From the calming, soothing and spiritually stirring sounds of monastery bells and zen-related wind instruments and on to the soulful chants of Tibetan and Buddhist monks – right up to the modern nonmelodic strains of electronic music, specifically created to vibrate with the cellular experiences of inner peace and well-being – these sounds have long enhanced the practice of meditation.
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The ambient sounds of music for meditation help you focus on your breathing, reduce stress, and slow down your heartrate – even your brainwaves – to help you turn your attention inward. “The power of music to induce or enhance deep states of relaxation has been strongly supported by scientific studies, dating back to the 1800s” reports psychologist John Ortiz, the author of The Tao of Music. Ortiz points out that when you choose meditation music that resonates with your inner being, it can help you quiet your mind more quickly and deeply – and help you stay centered much more easily.
However, not just any music will do. The best music to “Om” by is slower than your usual iPod fare. It doesn’t feature a melody, or lyrics that you can follow. Unlike most song lyrics, chanting songs are monotone – or simply vocalized prayers that allow you to be in harmony with the prayer, and not worry where the melody is going.
If you’re not familiar with the wide variety of meditation CDs that are out there, here’s a little insight into some of the most sought-after compilations:
Meditation for beginners
Some of our favorite gurus, such as Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle have guided mediation CDs that move you into a deeper consciousness, and to help you align with your higher self. Gamma Meditations, one of Dr. Jeffrey Hunter’s Brainwave Series, incorporates mesmerizing sonic sounds and relaxing meditation suggestions, which are at just the right frequency to activate a natural state of attunement with the universe.
Inner peace music
One of the most prolific producers of contemplative music is Steven Halpern, whose Chakra Suite is one of the best selling meditation CDs ever. Try his Relaxation Suite, with its “Mello Cello” and “Dharma Duet” tracks. The CD features melodic sounds of the cello, flute, piano and harp. Considered the pioneer in the field of effective soundscapes for meditation, Halpern has been creating electronic musical experiences as a background for heightening self-awareness in meditation, relaxation, sleep – and even driving more mindfully – for 33 years.
If electronic music doesn’t relax you, there are the classic zen sounds of Riley Lee on the shakuhachi flute. The simple bamboo instrument featured on Music for Zen Meditation is a more traditional accompaniment to meditation, with its uncomplicated, soothing pieces with titles such as “Tranquil, In Time Suspended,” and “Echo of the Sacred.”
The sounds and chants of Tibetan monks, with their gongs and singing bowls, appeal to many. But the spiritual tradition of yoga has also brought about a long list of chanting chanteuses, including new-age chart topper Deva Premal. Moola Mantra, one of her many popular CDs, is a unique version of the Sanskrit mantra, accompanied by Indian fusion sounds. Brand new in new-age stores is Kundalini Meditation Music, featuring seven 10- to 14-minute chants. Each features different blessings – from prosperity to healing.
If you’re a newbie to meditating with music, choose a CD – or even just one track – that you can play on repeat. It should be one that you find deeply soothing. You might want to begin your meditation with this progressive relation exercise. If you use headphones it might make it easier for the sounds to help you relax.
Sit comfortably, and breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Then allow the meditative sounds to enter your feet. Release your tension by focusing on the music. Move up the body from the feet to your head, repeating the entire exercise and always allowing the sound frequencies to relax your body and open your mind. When you have completed the exercise, continue to breathe in the sounds in the clearness of your mind.
Whether you download the music of the ocean, or listen to slowed-down classics, New Age CDs with mainstream appeal like Enya – or the vibrational sounds of echoing Tibetan bowls – to play as background music to your meditation, choose music that you personally find calming, centering and reflective. These meditative soundscapes also work well to reduce stress while you are working, or to set a serene mood around the house. And many, once you’re comfortably tucked in to bed, will lull you right to sleep!
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