Should I listen to music while meditating?

Dee asks…

“I am a music lover. I was curious if you think it is acceptable to have instrumental music playing in the background while meditating.

I find listening to world music such as Indian relaxation music and things of that sort tend to relax me. Should I meditate only in silence, or can I have instrumental as well?”

© Fernando Butcher
© Fernando Butcher

Listening to music is certainly an enjoyable, relaxing thing to do. People use it a lot to shut the mind up — it works. But it’s not so effective at generating awareness, which is what meditation is all about.

We want to be noticing thoughts pop, and have our attention in the space that thoughts happen. That is what calms the mind over time, and allows us to think on purpose again. 

Listening to music, watching movies, watching comedy, driving, reading — these are all good activities, in that they need steady focus. As a result, they have a calming, centering effect.

But we want to have the effect without the prop, so we can always find center, whatever is happening — even when the proverbial hits the fan. The beauty of the Happy Guide meditation technique is that it can be used any time, anywhere.

So listen to music because it’s enjoyable, centering and relaxing — but not as a direct replacement for meditation.

Best wishes,
James

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