Mindfulness and Music: Learning to Love Your Headphones
For the many people out there today wanting to adopt a more mindful approach to their everyday lives, there is no end to the different approaches and strategies that you can use in order to be more mindful. For many, this approach simply lies in daily meditation. Studies have found that meditation can help promote relaxation, reduce stress, improve focus and re-energize us, all while increasing overall mental health and well-being. This form of mindful meditation is all about becoming more aware of ourselves and the world around us. It is about paying attention and focusing on every little thing while we meditate, including our breath as we slowly breath in and out and take some time to ourselves.
Daily practice such as this can not only help with things like stress and focus, but new studies have found it can help improve working memory, reduce pain and help manage chronic illness. So, where does music come in? There are a number of ways that you can start including music as part of your own mindful practice and ways in which you can truly learn to love your headphones and start utilizing them as a way to better yourself.
Choose the right music
The first thing to remember when it comes to mindfulness and music, is that you need to choose music that is specifically designed for this type of focused meditation. One of the most common forms of music that meditators will listen to is mindfulness bell recordings. These recordings give you a focal point, or something to focus in on and listen to so that you actually practice mindful listening, instead of just zoning out while listening to music. When you listen in this type of way, you can enter into a deeper and more effective form of meditation than you would if you were just meditating without music.
There are some more advanced meditators that can listen to other forms of music with a certain beat in the background that they focus in on. This isn’t normally recommended for first-time mindful listeners, as it can be difficult to push out distractions such as melodies, other instruments and lyrics just to mindfully listen to one beat. Start with something such as these bell recordings and use it to help you practice true listening, learn a deeper form of mediation and to start clearing your mind.
Taking the bell approach and focusing in on one solid tone or beat is just one approach to adding music to your meditation practices. There are some people who really thrive using this method, but others who prefer soothing and environmental sounds or soft, relaxing music. There are a number of recordings and songs out there that are designed specifically with meditation in mind, and even guides that come with them that may encourage you to focus on certain elements of the music. Many people who utilize meditation as a way to destress find that this approach works best because it helps them get in this state of relaxation and it helps bring a sense of calm to their overall demeanor and mindset.
If you are going to try this approach, to mindful meditation, here are some tips for making sure you get the most out of listening to music while you meditate:
- Sit alone in a room and turn down the lights
- Turn off your phone
- Listen to the music and don’t try to do anything else
- Get in a comfortable position that allows you to still be alert and pay attention
- Take it seriously, go into the experience with the intention to listen mindfully
There are some meditation “purists” who may believe that music shouldn’t be part of a mindful, meditative practice. Ancient forms of meditation typically forbade music as part of the practice. However, over the past several years more “modern meditation” approaches have begun springing up as modern day mindful practitioners have begun tweaking ancient Zen approaches to fit today’s modern world.
Keep these music and mindfulness correlation in mind next time you are looking for new ways to improve your own mindfulness study and to start to see some of the benefits of adding music to your daily life. You can do this in addition to your current meditations or practices or use it as a way to jump into the world of mindful meditation, no matter where you may be on your current journey with this practice.