Can You Meditate With Music? 5 Music Meditations Explained


“Next to meditation is music, soulful music, the music that stirs and elevates our aspiring consciousness.”

– Sri Chinmoy

Can you meditate with music? It’s a question that stirs quite a discussion.

There are many purist schools of thought that believe meditation should be done without external stimuli and “distractions”. Present across cultural and traditional lines, this has created quite a bit of skepticism surrounding the compatibility of music with meditation.

We’re here to try to break the skepticism. While many people prefer meditation without music, the truth is simply that it’s a matter of individual preference and also the type of meditation being practiced.

While some may find sounds distracting, others find that music during meditation gives them something tangible to focus on, allowing them to go deeper into their practice.

In this article, we’re going to go through five different ways that you can meditate with music. Specifically, we’ll be looking at:

  • Mindful listening
  • Nature sounds
  • Mantra meditations
  • Dance music
  • Breathwork music meditations
a woman sitting on a bed meditating and listening to music

Can you Meditate with music? 5 Methods Explained

Can you meditate with music? Absolutely! And in this article we show you how.

The techniques and steps below cover some of my favorite ways to meditate with music, designed to guide you to immerse in each meditation practice. We wish you a rich and meaningful experience!

#1: Mindful Listening


This simple technique is inspired by both Western and Eastern contemplative practices, drawing inspiration from mindfulness and awareness techniques in the West, where being present in the moment is emphasized.

In the East, it’s inspired particularly by Zen Buddhism, where a great tradition of “listening” meditation exists that encourages practitioners to deeply attend to sounds and vibrations, feeling and really hearing them.

How to:

  1. Find a quiet space, settle into a comfortable position, and select your chosen music.
  2. Tip: We recommend choosing softer, instrumental music that resonates with your mood or intention for the meditation.
  3. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.
  4. Start the music and pay attention to the details of each note.
  5. Observe the instruments, noticing the interplay of tones and rhythms. Be curious – what story does the music tell? How do the sounds change from moment to moment?
  6. Allow the music to evoke emotions without judgment; embrace the experience.
  7. Notice how your body responds, noting any tension, relaxation, or other sensations.
  8. If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to the music.
  9. Engage in this mindful listening for at least 10-15 minutes.
  10. Gradually transition as the music fades.
  11. Reflect on the emotions and sensations stirred by the music.
  12. Open your eyes and try to find 3 things that you’re grateful for about the meditative experience.
a man sitting in meditation listening to music

#2: Nature Sounds and Drumming Meditation


This meditation technique embodies the rich traditions of drumming and nature-based spirituality found in indigenous cultures globally, reminding us of the interconnectedness of all things – all creatures beating to the rhythm of the same drum.

Drumming in ceremonies for healing, spiritual connection, and communication is prevalent in indigenous traditions across the globe, from Native American tribes to African and Australian indigenous cultures, it makes for a beautiful music-based meditation.

Nature sounds, revered in indigenous traditions, symbolize the connection between all living beings and reflect a deep respect for the rhythms of the Earth.

How to:

  1. Find a comfortable spot where you can sit or lie down undisturbed.
  2. Then, find some music that combines nature sounds with drumming rhythms (Spotify and Youtube have lots of great playlists for this!)
  3. Close your eyes and take deep breaths to ground yourself in the present moment.
  4. When you feel ready, start playing the nature-infused drumming music.
  5. As you breathe naturally, connect with the primal rhythm of the drumming and the grounding sounds of nature.
  6. Visualize yourself in a natural setting, surrounded by the sounds of the environment.
  7. Let the drumming and nature sounds synchronize with your own inner rhythm.
  8. If distractions arise, just smile at your human mind and gently bring your attention back to the drumming and nature sounds.
  9. Engage in this meditation for at least 15-20 minutes.
  10. Gradually transition into stillness, allowing the echoes of nature and the pulse of the drums to linger.
  11. Reflect on the sense of interconnectedness with the Earth and the primal energy of the drum.
  12. Open your eyes with gratitude for the grounding experience.
people lying dow with someone banging a drum for music meditation

#3: Mantra Chanting Music Meditation


This mantra meditation is inspired by origins in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In Hinduism, mantras, sacred sounds, or phrases, hold great spiritual significance and are used in various meditations to connect with divine energies and to contemplate and commit to virtues.

In Buddhism, chanting mantras is a common practice, serving as tools for concentration and mindfulness, especially in Tibetan Buddhism where mantras are utilized extensively in meditation and prayer.

How to:

  1. Begin by finding a space where you can sit comfortably, and choose any music featuring repetitive chants or mantras that resonate with your intention or mood.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to enter a calm, focused state.
  3. Start the chanting music and synchronize your breath with the rhythm. If unfamiliar with the mantra, open your eyes and use subtitles or find the lyrics online.
  4. Focus on the vibrations in the music and within your body as the mantra unfolds.
  5. Let the mantra become a focal point, a guiding force for your meditation.
  6. Contemplate the meaning of the mantra if there is one, deepening your connection. How can this meaning resonate with you?
  7. If distractions arise, gently bring your attention back to the mantra.
  8. Follow this mantra meditation for at least 15-20 minutes, before gradually slowing down your breath as the chanting subsides.
  9. Reflect on the resonance of the mantra within – how do you feel now compared to the beginning of the practice?
  10. Open your eyes, acknowledging the sacred space you’ve cultivated.
a hand holding red mala beads

#4: Dance Music Meditation


This energizing dance meditation is inspired mostly by Sufi and Native American traditions. In Sufism, a mystical and contemplative dimension of Islam, dance is a form of ecstatic worship, allowing practitioners to connect with the divine through physical movement.

Native American ceremonial dances, on the other hand, are integral to spiritual rituals, serving as a means of communication with the spiritual realm and a way to honor the cycles of nature. Harnessing the power of dance to escape from the habit patterns of the mind.

How to:

  1. Find a spacious area where you can move freely and without interruption.
  2. Find some rhythmic and meditative music that inspires you to move. This meditation should last for at least 15-20 minutes to really experience its benefits, so queue a few songs here.
  3. Close your eyes and start to let the music guide your movements letting go of inhibitions and ego. It might feel strange at first, but don’t be shy or embarrassed! As you continue, the movements will start to feel more and more natural and fun (promise!).
  4. Keep paying attention to the rhythm, allowing your body to respond naturally. Wherever your body wants to move, let it move.
  5. Gradually slow your dance as the music transitions to an end.
  6. Gently move into stillness, feeling the reverberations of the dance around your body.
  7. Spend a few moments in stillness, feeling the energy stirred around your body.
  8. Reflect on the experience and how you feel at the end of the session compared to when you started.
  9. Open your eyes with gratitude for the release and connection experienced.
a woman dancing in nature in a pink dress

#5: Breathwork Music Meditation


This meditation combines calm music with breathwork and has roots in various contemplative and mindful traditions.

While breathwork meditation itself draws from mindfulness practices in the East that emphasize the connection between breath, mind, and body, the integration with classical music brings a distinct Western influence that takes advantage of the serene soundscapes that such music can create.

But don’t feel restricted to Western classical music – any relaxing, rhythmic music works well for this technique!

How to:

  1. First, find a quiet space where you can sit or lie down comfortably without being disturbed.
  2. Select slow-tempo classical music that resonates with you. Piano music is a personal favorite of ours!
  3. Close your eyes and take slow, deliberate breaths to start with a sense of calm.
  4. Then, begin to sync your breath with the slow tempo of the classical music, allowing it to guide you.
  5. Feel the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen in harmony with the music. If you’re finding it difficult to match the rhythm, try box-breathing to the music instead.
  6. Pay attention to the subtle shifts in your body and breath as the music progresses. Do you feel calmer and more relaxed? More focused?
  7. If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to the breath and music.
  8. Practice in this breathwork meditation for at least 15-20 minutes before gradually returning to natural breathing as the music concludes.
  9. Reflect on the calming effects of synchronizing your breath with the music – how did you find the practice?
a woman sitting cross legged meditating surrounded by candles

“Hence my insistence that music and meditation should go together. That adds a new dimension to both. Both are enriched by it.”

– Osho

Further Reading:

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Tish Qvortrup is a Brighton-born Yogi, with a passion for living intentionally. A Yoga Alliance registered 500hr teacher, she found her calling in Yin and Yang yoga. In her spare time, she loves exploring the outdoors and cooking plant-based goodies.

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