Background music during meditation

Background music during meditation

by Headspace_HQ » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:14 pm


What do you think about using relaxing music or repetitive noise (e.g. rain drops) in the background when you are meditating? Or what can I do if there is external background music during my meditation?

Andy's Answer:

Yeah, I notice that here in the west it is very common for teachers to use music, sounds of nature or white noise as a backdrop to guided meditation. As I have not trained in any of these techniques or indeed used any of them myself, it probably wouldn't be right for me to comment.

However, I would be more than happy to share my teachers thoughts as to why these elements were not included in traditional meditation techniques. When we sit to meditate, we are looking to create the most favourable conditions for meditation. This means being undistracted. So from this point of view, to intentionally add a distraction such as music does not make a lot of sense.

Some people say that they find music and sounds very relaxing and of course that's a good thing. But it's important to remember than meditation exercises and relaxation exercises are two very different things. Relaxation exercises are just that, a way of feeling more relaxed. Meditation exercises on the other hand are designed to train attention, awareness and compassion. Ultimately, it is knowing the mind as it really is. Contrary to popular opinion, relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is merely a pleasurable by-product, so we do not need to look for ways to enhance or induce a feeling of relaxation.

The final issue is one of dependence. If we become dependent on anything for our relaxation, be it music, sounds or anything else, then we are setting ourselves up for difficulties in the future. The idea of meditation after all is to train the mind to be free of any dependence. If we can only be relaxed when we hear calming music, then what will we do when we are in the heat of an argument or on a busy train? However, if we have trained the mind to be at ease with itself - as opposed to some kind of external support - then we will be able to find calm and stillness in every area of our life.

As I say, this is simply the advice of my teacher and having not used these other techniques myself, I am not best placed to comment. But I found this advice helpful and I hope you do too.

If the music is coming from elsewhere and is out of your control, do not use as an excuse not to meditate. Focus on the reaction to the music - happiness, frustration etcetera - and focus on the associated feeling.
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