4 min read

Meditation Music

Are you brand-new to meditation? Or maybe you’ve been honing your practice for some time. Either way, you may wonder: Should I use meditation music to meditate?


Why Is Meditation Music So Important?

Are you brand-new to meditation? Or maybe you’ve been honing your practice for some time. Either way, you may wonder: Should I use meditation music to meditate?


It’s a common inquiry, and it’s important to note that there is no single answer.

In general, it may appear that beginners tend to appreciate calming music during meditation. And those who practice regularly may prefer silence. A study asking participants what background sounds, if any, they liked during meditation found this to be true1.

On the other hand, everyone is different. Just because you’re a beginner doesn’t mean you have to listen to soft Zen music during meditation. Even if you’ve been meditating for years, this doesn’t mean you should always have to meditate without music.

For those who prefer music, science supports its positive effects on the brain. This is true whether it’s positive & spiritual meditation music, Tibetan meditation music, or the sounds of crashing waves.

A recent study explored this2; looking at people listening to their favorite music during fMRI scans,  the researchers found that “connections in the area of the brain known to be involved in internally focused thought, empathy and self-awareness” lit up.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you should listen to your favorite pop tracks during meditation (although incorporating your favorite tunes into your practice can have positive effects3 too!). Rather, we can appreciate the power that music can have on our brains and awareness in general.


Is There a Specific Type of Meditation Music?

Yes and no.

Yes, because, if you’re looking for music made specifically for use during meditation, you can surely find it. No, because you’re also free to find your own ideal meditative music.

Some will claim otherwise, but when it comes to the calming music used during meditation, there is no “right or wrong”.

But let’s talk briefly about some of the music that’s unique for meditation. If you’re just starting out, this might be a good place to begin.

This type of relaxation music generally has the following things in common4:

  •  Soft and even: Never spiking with intense or raucous moments
  •  Slow moving: Never faster than 60 beats per minute
  •  Non-melodic: Doesn’t carry a ”catchy” tune that may distract you

This type of music may or may not incorporate the peaceful sounds of nature as well — for example, the sounds of:

  •  Falling rain
  •  Soft thunder and rain
  •  Running water in a stream
  •  Beach waves
  •  Wind in the trees
  •  Birds
  •  Whales

One of our instructors' playlists can be found through this link

Often, the soft & calm relaxing music you hear during meditation classes is ambient music. Ambient music usually uses electronic instruments. It produces atmospheric music that has no perceivable beat or tempo.


Why Is Music an Important Factor During Meditation?

Some may say that music is unnecessary for successful meditation. Still, having some calming music to play (especially when you’re just starting out in meditation) carries a number of advantages.


1. Silence can be scary.

If you’ve never meditated before, and you try it in silence right off the bat, the quiet can sometimes put people on edge.

This may actually be biological as scientists have found that the cessation of sound can induce the fear response5 in mammals. Fortunately, some soft peaceful music can help.


2. Music helps you understand the passing of time.

Try to notice how often you check the time in your daily life. Most of us like to know what time it is. We want to know how fast time is passing. And this is never more true when we’re doing a slow, monotonous activity — like meditating.

In this case, some slow relaxing music can be a comfort in that it helps you perceive the passing of time.


3. With music, you can ease into what it feels like to meditate.

What a lot of people will not tell you is that meditation can be “boring” — but only inasmuch as it’s not big on stimulation.

That is, it’s not entertaining like a movie. It’s not thrilling like a ride. It doesn’t “take your mind off things” like an engrossing book. Quite the contrary, in fact. You sit, you don’t speak, you don’t move (if it’s not walking meditation), and you are alone with your thoughts.

Now, these seemingly “boring” factors can have absolutely amazing and profound effects on your life. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

The “boredom,” though part and parcel of meditation, shouldn’t put you off to the practice entirely. It gets easier, and there are times when you will grow to appreciate those moments more than you’d ever know at first.

Still, some meditation music can ease the transition. It can make the experience of sitting more palatable and pleasurable. This is especially true for beginners.


4. Meditative music can help you focus.

This one is key. Many practitioners of meditation use a mantra. This could be a sound, word, or phrase. It is repeated mentally in order to maintain focus on the meditation. Mantra means instrument of thought in the ancient language of Sanskrit6.

Like a mantra, music provides a focus for the mind. This is why, when you are a beginning meditator, music can be a particularly useful tool. Meditation music for kids, for example, is especially popular.


5. Sleep meditation can be more effective with relaxing sleep music.

Finally, if you’re hoping to use meditation to help you sleep better, sleep music for meditation can be an amazing tool. Guided meditations for sleep will often use soothing music at the end of the sequence to help you drift off softly and slowly.



Additional Resources

  1. https://content.iospress.com/articles/work/wor192917
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170412181341.htm
  3. https://www.lionsroar.com/music-meditation/
  4. http://www.music-for-meditation.co.uk/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212006604
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5472955/

The act of meditation is being spacious.

– Sogyal Rinpoche


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