“Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.” -Diana Robinson
I will offer you a guide on how to meditate with music, summarized in 10 easy steps to make the most of this kind of meditation.
1. Choose a good piece of meditation music or meditative, inspirational, instrumental music. Why instrumental music? Because instrumental music stimulates your right brain’s activity (the intuitive side of your brain). Music with lyrics involves your left brain’s activity (the rational side of your brain), because linguistically spoken words makes you think. When you meditate, what you want is to quiet and transcend your rational mind, which is usually overtaxed by hectic modern life styles. So choose an instrumental song when you want to meditate with music. Songs with choirs are fine as long as the voices do not utter linguistically spoken words. A notable exception to this might be the so called sacred sounds coined in ancient languages, which are used as mantras along with the music, as in the case of Tibetan music.
2. Go to a quiet, peaceful place. Take the phone off the hook. Make sure you will not be disturbed or interrupted. Find a comfortable, relaxed position to sit or lie for a half hour. The more relaxed you are, the more beneficial your meditation with music will be because you will grasp better the music vibrations. This is due to the fact that, as you relax, you become more sound sensitive. So before you listen to your piece of meditation or inspirational music, you may wish to spend some moments focusing your quiet attention on each part of your body, starting with the feet and moving up to the top of your head, while you breath deeply but slowly.
3. Next, listen to your meditative music with headphones, at a comfortable volume. You can use a cassette deck, a CD player or an iPod to meditate with music, but the use of a pair of good quality headphones is necessary to better receive the musical vibrations. It does make a difference. If you use an iPod, make sure that your selected music has been converted by your iPod system to the highest possible bitrate (ideally to WAV or AIFF music files) to ensure maximum sound quality (you can edit your preferences in the advanced/importing menu; then right click on the song and choose “convert to”).
4. While you listen, use a natural (not forced) diaphragmatic breathing to meditate with music. This is the so called “belly breathing”. On inhaling through your nostrils, direct your breath into your abdomen and feel it rise. On exhaling through your nostrils, feel your abdomen fall. If you want to center even further, lightly press your tongue against the roof of your mouth while you inhale deeply (but slowly) through your nostrils and exhale not through your nostrils but through your slightly parted lips.
5. Relax. Do not worry about what you should be thinking, visualizing or doing while you meditate with music. This is not about “doing”"but about “being”.
6. When different thoughts cross your mind, just let them be and pass away. Focus on the music. Let the sounds be your mantra. If you find yourself directing your thoughts or attention to the past or the future, return to the here and now. Be present in the moment.
7. As you focus on your inspirational music, allow its vibrations to passively stimulate your positive energies. Give yourself up to the music. Allow it to naturally work upon your emotions, mind and soul. Feel it surrounding you, embracing you, filling you. Absorb its vibrations with each breath. When you begin to resonate with the music, you will notice that your breath and your heartbeat gradually synchronize to the “pulse” of the music. This is called entrainment. Your mood is matching the mood of the music and moving already into the desired direction.
8. Once you have reached the entrainment point, enjoy it. Stay there as long as it feels good to you. If the music stimulates your imagination at this stage, enjoy it. That signals the release of stress. If you fall asleep, do not worry. That is also a sign of the release of stress. You can end your meditation with music at this point. You would be refreshed afterwards and in a better position to go back to your daily life.
9. While at the entrainment point, some people may wish to go further and incorporate visualization tools to your meditation with music. This entails visualizing yourself comfortably succeeding at a specific goal of yours. Do not do this before you reach the entrainment point, since it could transform your meditation with music into a mere exercise of will power in the arena of your rational mind. Do it only after you reach the entrainment point and you are in a relaxed state. At this point you can incorporate visualization tools.
When doing so, vividly imagine the experiences you want to have. I say to visual people: visualize your dreams; to auditory people: hear them; to kinesthetic people: feel them; to smellers: scent them; to tasters: relish them.
A word of caution: do not waste your time visualizing or wishing things that may invade the sphere of other people, since this will take you out of the positive energy creative field, wasting your meditation energy and making it work in reverse, against you. Your desires must be honest and aligned with the highest good of all, pursuant to the law of unity.
10. Once your meditation with music ends, do not rush back into your daily life. You have to ground and assimilate the energy. Remain still for several minutes. If you meditated with your eyes closed, gently open them and let them adjust to the light. Slowly stretch each major part of your body. Sit or lie quietly for about five minutes. Notice and enjoy how relaxed, refreshed and strengthen you feel. Finally, express gratitude for the benefits of your meditation with music.
Javier Ramon Brito is a musician, composer, music h