Monday, January 16, 2012

The Practice: Music Meditation

Depending on what level you find yourself, meditating with music can foster a relaxed body and a clear mind when done right.  Let's start with the beginner's meditation and end with an advance music meditation.

Beginner: First thing you need is a piece of music performed on one instrument such as a piano, flute, or guitar with a duration of 3 to 5 minutes.  If you get easily distracted try listening to the piece of music on low volume through headphones, otherwise listen to the music on another type of device.

Similar to breath meditation, you'll employ a singular focus, this time on the music itself.  Ask yourself is the music falling or rising, ascending or descending or are you listening to clusters of notes? Is the music soft, slow, fast, and hard around the edges? Listen for dynamics, tempo, tone, timbre, and emotions. Do you connect with the performer or do you only notice the music? Do you connect with the composer.

Next, what images come up into your mind? Don't cling to the images or feelings, just let them pass through. Are you experiencing nostalgia from a familiar piece of music? Again observe the thoughts then let them go. Then when you have completed your 3 to 5 minute meditation, write down your observations in your music journal.  This process takes practice.  Your mind will wander and you might feel restless.  Keep returning your mind to the music. Keep practicing until you reach the point where you notice nothing but the music and your physical and emotional responses to it.

Intermediate meditation: Now choose a piece of music (jazz, classical, traditional or sound healing), with two or three instruments, with a duration of 10 minutes.  Follow the steps in the beginning meditation, but expand your focus to include how the instruments interact with each other.  Do you feel the music conversation? What emotions come up? Can you connect with your natural rhythms, (heart beat, pulse, breath)? Do you sense your pulse speeding up and slowing down with the music? How long can you keep your focus and intent on the music? When you complete your meditation write down your observations in your music journal.  Experiment with music representing different tempos, timbres, and genres.

Advance meditation: Now choose a piece of music (classical is best) that last 20 minutes.  Choose a complex piece of music with an orchestra and at least 3 movements representing different tempos such as with a concerto.  Experiment with different composers and see if you can connect with them through their music.  What does this music say to you? Do you feel pains in your body? Does your breath speed up, slow down, do tears rush to your eyes, or laughter to your lips? Follow your heart beat and your pulse as the music speeds up and slows down.  Do you observe your body entrain to music? Where do you feel the resonance in your body?

If you work with sound healing tools or toning, end with this practice.  Then pull out your music journal and record your experiences with the music meditation.

With any type of meditation or healing practice, if difficult emotions or challenging situations come up, seek the help of a professional sound healer, music therapist, or other type of healer.

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