When early forms of meditation were first developed in ancient Asian societies, they would typically be practiced outside, amongst the natural sounds of birds, insects, rivers, and winds.
So why are some modern meditators insistent that meditation sessions should be totally silent?
There can be real benefits to having a soundtrack to your meditation session. While it doesn’t sit right with some people, for others, healing music can be the perfect accompaniment.
That’s why this article is going to focus on the topic of healing meditation music and the role that sound can play in these mindful moments.
We’ll be exploring these key points:
- Should Meditation Be Silent?
- How Can Music And Sound Help Us With Meditation?
- The Science Of Healing Meditation Music
- What Type of Music Should I Choose?
- Free Playlists To Help Enhance Your Experiences Of Meditation
Let’s get started!
Should Meditation Be Silent?
Traditionally speaking, meditation would usually be done in silence.
Some people might argue that incorporating sound into your practice causes distractions and takes your mind away from the main focus of your session.
It’s hard to disagree with this in some cases. For example, the idea of meditating to a backdrop of heavy metal or punk music might seem a little strange. But that doesn’t mean you should rule out implementing music at all.
Certain types of sound can sit alongside your meditation session in a subtle, harmonious way.
Shortly, we’ll explore the best types of music to listen to whilst meditating. Before we get onto that, though, it’s worth noting a couple of meditative styles to which you probably shouldn’t add sound.
Firstly, if you’re taking part in a guided session, whether that’s in person or remotely via an audio device, your focus should be solely on the voice guiding you through the practice.
Meditation styles that encourage the repetition of a mantra, such as Transcendental Meditation, are also best practiced with no accompanying noise to distract you.
However, there are plenty of contexts in which the integration of certain kinds of music can be seen to enhance the ‘healing’ qualities of a meditation session.
But what exactly do we mean when we discuss healing meditation music? And how can it actually help us?
How Can Music And Sound Help Us With Meditation?
We’re all aware of the immense power of music. Listening to music and playing it yourself can provoke feelings of intense joy and present moment focus, while simultaneously reducing feelings of stress or anxiety.
You might have noticed that the powerful surges of energy and feeling that occur when you take in your favorite tunes have a fair bit in common with the meditative goal of expanding sensory experience.
This discovery gives us some insight into how we can use healing music to get the best out of our mindful moments of peace.
Various practices have been developed with this knowledge in mind. Take a look at our article on the gong bath to find out more about one of the best examples of this.
Listening to music while meditating can have some real benefits. Let’s take a look through 3 of the most important effects.
#1. Reduced Stress
Creating a greater sense of calmness in the mind and body is one of the foremost goals of meditation. Incorporating soft, calming music into your meditation sessions can be excellent for stress management.
#2. Increased Present Moment Focus
Listening to music and sound encourages us to focus closely on the present moment and the sensory stimuli within it. Neuroscientists suggest that this has a similar effect to meditation. Incorporating the two can further enhance this sense of present-mindedness.
#3. Enhanced Insight
Music is about self-discovery. Listening closely to instrumental and lyrical music can be a profound experience that promotes greater insight and reflection. Why not try to access these experiences during a formal meditation session?
But how exactly are these benefits achieved? Let’s take a look through the science to back it up.
The Science Of Healing Meditation Music
If you’re not convinced of the benefits we’ve discussed here, there’s thankfully plenty of evidence backing up the efficacy of music meditation.
Studies have shown how healing music meditation can help reduce stress and bring a sense of calmness to participants, while neuroscientific research has underlined how listening to music produces very similar effects to more traditional meditation practices.
One report conducted by Science Daily found that music activates the waking rest state of the default mode network (a system of interacting brain regions that is active when we’re not focused on the outside world).
This can be highly beneficial, removing us from the stresses around us while stopping us from experiencing negative mind-wandering. This can help us achieve greater peace of mind.
What Type Of Music Should I Choose?
Having now tackled the science behind music meditation, there’s one big question we need to answer. What type of music should we choose?
There are many types of music that can be used to bring a more soothing quality to your meditation practice.
Some popular varieties include Indian classical music, Gregorian chanting (a type of baritone singing), Primordial sounds (like “OM”, for example), or minimalist instrumental music.
Lots of people also choose to play nature sounds while they meditate. It could be waterfalls, waves crashing, or birdsong; whatever you prefer, the sounds of nature can be the perfect accompaniment to a peaceful, productive meditation session.
In the same way that the type of music you’re choosing is important, so is the type of meditation you dive into. Some meditative practices work well with some healing sleep music or another sound in the background, while others won’t so much.
Mindful Movement Meditation is a good place to start. By playing some calming, sensual music and becoming more mindful of bodily motions and postures, you can encourage some wonderful experiences.
Similarly, yoga goes hand in hand with healing meditation music. Most yoga instructors will choose to put on some light, soothing music while they conduct their session.
Check out our article on building a daily yoga routine to find out more about what a typical session might look like.
Okay, so now that we’ve recapped the best types of meditation to try with a musical background, as well as exploring what sort of music you should use in this context, it’s time to give you a few resources to help you out.
Free Playlists To Help Enhance Your Experiences Of Meditation
Even though you’ll now have a better idea of how music meditation works and what sort of sounds you should be integrating into your practice, you might still be wondering where to find them.
Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.
Below are 5 free playlists that are publicly available on Spotify. Give them a listen, and see which ones work for you!
#1. Meditation Station – Meditation Music 2022
Collating a wide variety of ambient, atmospheric sounds and compositions, Meditation Station’s 2022 playlist can act as a backdrop to hours and hours of quiet practice.
Some of these sounds are so relaxing they could also be used as healing sleep music. Check out their healing music YouTube channel for more content.
#2. New Earth Moods – Indian Yoga Music
This is a highly versatile mix of traditional Indian classical music. Totaling just under 2 hours, this mix will keep you going throughout the longest of sessions.
#3. Radio Meditation Music – Deep Meditation
If you want to experience the kind of deep awakening associated with advanced meditation practices, this Radio Meditation playlist could help you along the way. It’s over 7 hours long and features natural sounds and ancient instruments such as the Tibetan singing bowl.
#4. Calmsound – Relaxing Nature Sounds
The sounds of nature provide the perfect backdrop to a relaxing meditation session. This Calmsound playlist collates over 10 hours of natural sounds including ocean waves, arctic winds, woodland rainfall, and even humpback whale song.
#5. Ashtanga – Primary Series Playlist
This Spotify playlist features some truly beautiful music that can be used in all sorts of meditation and yoga sessions.
Fusing contemporary beats and ancient Indian instrumental music and barely any lyrical vocals, this mix can provide a calm, comforting, but engaging soundtrack, without distracting you.
Find The Right Soundtrack For You
You should now have a good idea of the kinds of musical sounds that work best in a meditation session.
Picking the right kind of music and aligning it with your meditation or mindfulness practice can help reduce stress, focus your mind, and take you away from internal monologues or external pressures.
Whether it’s nature sounds, minimalism, or ancient Asian instrumentalism that you prefer, there should be a playlist here for you. And if, after taking all this on board, you realize you’d rather practice in silence, that’s totally fine too!
Ultimately, it’s all about what works for you. Some people might like to keep things traditional, but meditation is a highly personal experience. Try out some different sounds and see what the results are. Only then will you know how to get the best out of your practice.
And if you want to find out a little more about what to listen to to boost your mindful experiences, check out our article on mindfulness book and podcast recommendations.