I’ve always thought meditation should be carried out in as much silence as possible, and that’s how I’ve always meditated. Today, however, I tried meditating with some ambient music in the background.
This was partially done on a whim, but it’s also something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. Google research after the fact turned up a range of opinions, from websites that thought music could be distracting to ones that sold tracks crafted just for meditation.
It’s worth pointing out that during my first stay at a Buddhist monastery a few weeks ago, silent meditation was punctuated by chanting and bowing. Relatively raucous stuff when compared to breathing in absolute stillness, and this coming from people who meditate professionally.
So I decided to give it a shot. I chose a spacey ambient piece, as Lamb of God would make a terrible soundtrack to enlightenment. Here are my observations after one trial run:
1) Time absolutely flew. An unbroken 20 minute meditation session is usually hard to achieve. This time, though my back was a little uncomfortable and I had to adjust position once because my leg was asleep, I was shocked when the alarm went off.
2) It really did help still my mind. Even though I still had a fair amount of chatter going on, something about the music just seemed to make it easier to focus on breathing. I had a pretty powerful sweep of euphoria around the (I’m guessing) sixteen minute mark. My whole body started tingling for maybe a full two seconds right as I was getting the most focused. This has happened once before, but so far it’s proving hard to maintain. I don’t think such an experience is the point of meditation, but it’s interesting and does encourage one to continue.
3) I’d like to use this in the future, but I think several modifications might increase its efficacy. For one, I’d like the sound to surround me more, rather than feeling beamed from laptop speakers. Also, I think it would be good to fade into silence very slowly. Finally, the music should probably be as minimal as possible, maybe even just one deep, slowly changing tone. I think much more than that would start to prove a distraction.
I’ll be trying this again in the future. If it proves interesting or useful I’ll write more about it then.