Which Is More Effective? Meditation with or Without Music?

Meditation is something that millions of people all around the world do on a regular basis. With as many different people meditating as there are, it should come as no surprise that there are many different types of meditation that one can practice. This also means that there are very few hard and fast rules to abide by when you are meditating. However, you might wonder if having some soothing music in the background while you are meditating would be helpful or detrimental.

Because the crux of meditation is to be mindful of yourself, your thoughts, and your state of mind, the addition of music can actually be detrimental in helping you focus. The added sounds can make it harder to focus on yourself, and may bring you out of focusing on your subconscious and into a form of multitasking. Multitasking is the opposite of what you want to do when you are meditating.

With that being said, it can be hard to believe that soft, soothing music can have all that much of an effect on the way that you are meditating, especially if you choose very slow and harmonic music to listen to. In fact, some people may even find the silence that you are supposed to turn to in meditation to be deafening in a sense. Whether you want to learn more about how music affects the meditation process, or you want to find another sense to focus on that will not be as distracting as music, there is a lot to learn about how music can affect your meditation session.

Does Music Really Make a Difference in Meditation?

The ultimate goal of mindful meditation is, and always has been, to quiet down your conscious mind so that you can listen to your subconscious. To get ready and prepare for meditation, most people need to make sure that they are in a quiet environment where they can focus on their breathing.

For example, most people aren’t going to want to meditate while their roommates argue about Dwight Schrute and Dunder Mifflin. The environment plays a massive role in meditation, and some people even have specific locations they go to when they want to meditate during the day. Imagine putting in all of the work to find the perfect place to meditate, where there aren’t any distractions or commotions that would bring you out of the mindfulness that you want to experience, but then the sound of music distracts you from paying attention to yourself.

Whether you are repeating a mantra, being mindful, or simply trying to give your conscious mind a break, adding music to meditation can quickly become a form of multitasking that you do not want when the focus is on meditating. Even if you are not purposefully listening to the music, your brain still needs to process the noise it is hearing alongside performing the mantra, focusing on breathing, and other common parts of meditation.

This will not allow you to give your conscious mind the break it needs, since it will still be processing the music you listen to. By turning your meditation into a multitasking time, you are taking away from the fact that meditation is meant to be a task that has one focus. For some people, the effects of this are going to be more profound than others. Some people may find that they need the music to actually help them focus and keep their minds from wandering, whereas other people might actually begin to have their minds wander and daydream when listening to music.

In essence, part of getting into meditation is finding what works for you. This might mean that you go through a phase of checking to see if adding music to your meditation process is something you want to do. The best part about this is that adding the music to your meditation is something that will not cause any harm, so there’s no reason not to try it.

Finding What Works for You

If you go around asking different meditation experts whether you should include music in your meditation process, there’s a good chance that you are going to get conflicting answers. Some experts are going to say that for traditional meditation, silence is going to be the best medium to work with. Other experts believe that music meditation is a new modern spin on older and more traditional forms of meditation that younger people might be more interested in. There are even plenty of people who believe that music is important, but only at certain times during the meditation process.

Needless to say, there is no clear-cut and defined answer to whether or not music is the “right” choice for meditation. After all, finding what works for you is a huge part of most meditation processes (aside from more traditional forms of meditation such as tai chi). From deciding what position you want to sit in to how you want to decorate your meditation area, the choices are all up to your preference, so why not music as well?

If you are someone who finds complete silence to be more distracting than quiet and faint background noise, then adding music to your meditation might end up being more effective than meditating in silence. On the other hand, if you are someone who tends to daydream and get carried away into imagination when idly listening to music, then it might not be the right choice for you.

There are actually quite a few different ways you can incorporate music into your meditation program without adding the music to the meditation itself. It is actually quite a common practice to listen to soothing, meditation-focused music to get you in the right headspace to meditate, but then turn the music off when it is time to be mindful. Some people will do the opposite, using the music to slowly bring them out of their mindfulness and back into their conscious world around them.

Especially if you are new to the idea of meditation in the first place, it may very well be worth giving it a shot to listen to music to help you focus on the meditation and not focus on the distinct lack of noise. Meditating once or twice with music and then a few times without music to compare how well you can meditate is not something you should be ashamed of doing. All you are doing is trying to find what method of meditation is going to bring you the best benefits in the most efficient manner.

With that being said, there are a few things to keep in mind if you are planning on looking for music to add to your meditation playlist.

What Kind of Music Can You Listen to?

In a sense, music can be a lot like vegetables. There is a plethora of both music and vegetables, but there are some pieces that are only good on certain occasions or in certain ways. For example, many people enjoy listening to music with lyrics, just as many people enjoy eating beets. However, music with lyrics can easily pull you out of a mindful stage of focus for meditation, and beets are not going to be the right vegetable to eat in a dish of fried rice. As with many things in life, there is a time and place for everything, and this applies to your meditation music as well.

In today’s more technology-focused times, music meditation is becoming a recognized form of meditation. As this form of meditation requires the use of music, this also means that more and more creators and composers are working on creating more tracks for you to choose from and listen to. No matter what your interests are, you will surely be able to find music that will aid your meditation process.

Some of the things you will want to keep in mind is that music for meditation is meant to be something akin to white noise or a background noise, rather than something you will actively be listening to. This means that as a general rule, you are not going to be listening to anything with lyrics. Lyrical music has a tendency to engage the conscious mind, whether it is for trying to decipher what the lyrics are saying, paying attention to the voice, or trying to relate to the lyrics being said. This is the opposite of what you want when you are trying to meditate.

Instead, you will want to choose something that you wouldn’t mind listening to. For instance, if you are not a fan of the violin, you are not going to want to choose a track with a violin. The music you choose should be pleasing to your personal tastes. You will also want to choose a song with a lower tempo to it. Studies have shown that your natural heart rate will often try and at least partially synchronize with music. For meditation purposes, an increased heart rate is not something you are going to want.

The lower tempo can ensure that you are not listening to anything that will bring you out of a relaxed state of mind. In fact, it can even help you to relax even further as you can breathe in time with the music. Most meditation music, especially tracks that are meant for mindfulness and focusing on the subconscious mind, are going to be slow instrumentals that you can easily breathe along with when you are taking deep breaths.

Music, as a whole, can have a calming effect on people who are more oriented toward responding to sounds. For people who either get too distracted by music or rightfully believe that music can interfere with the deeper meditation, there are plenty of other ways that you can make changes to your meditation area to bring about that same calming effect without ruining your mindfulness.

What Other Objects Can You Use to Feel Calm?

Unless you choose to meditate in a specific place outside of your property, most people have an area of their home where they practice their meditation. Some people might prefer to stay in the privacy and familiarity of their own room, while other people might try and meditate in the bathtub. Some people may even choose to go outdoors and to the backyard to get their meditation done. No matter where you are, if you want to bring a sense of calmness and peacefulness to your meditation, there are plenty of things that you can do besides bringing in music.

A lot of people underestimate just how much of an effect smells can have on your state of mind. There’s a very good reason why aromatherapy has been around for as long as it has. Incense, scented candles, herbs, and spices can all produce scents for your room that can help you to focus and feel calmer in a way that will not be multitasking. Instead of actively listening to the music that is coming from your phone, you will instead breathe in the smell of the room naturally when you breathe.

Scents and aromatherapy can do wonders for helping you to calm down and prepare to meditate, especially when you know that music is out of the question. Additionally, there are so many different kinds of candles, incense sticks, and other scented objects that you can place in your room that you will be able to easily customize the area that you are going to be meditating in.

If you have something that is meaningful to you and it will help bring a sense of peace and tranquility, you can hold and look at it either before or during your meditation time. This can be a photo of someone who is special to you, or someone you have good memories of, or it could be a crystal that you believe protects you and gives you the energy that you need to get through the day. There are plenty of people out there who also meditate alongside religious symbols and books, as these can bring a sense of peace to the people who follow them.

As the goal of meditation is to focus on yourself and your subconscious emotions and thoughts, making sure that you are at a peace of mind and calm is going to be an important role in getting the most out of your meditation session. While adding music to meditation may be a more modern idea that is not fully accepted, there is surely no harm in trying it out and seeing how it works for you. 

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