Exploring Music's Complexities

Meditation Techniques

Meditation Techniques

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Most dictionaries simply define meditation as a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a pattern of subjective functioning, either to realize some benefit (1) or as an end in itself (2). Given the number of available meditation styles and techniques, anyone contemplating perusing meditation is advised to take time to determine what system will provide the best fit.

Concentrative and Non-concentrative Meditation Techniques

Most researchers agree there are two different categories of meditation techniques: concentrative and non-concentrative. An example of concentrative involves focusing on an external objective or sound. Non-concentrative technique offers a broader choice including environmental sounds or internal body states. Its purpose may run the gambit from techniques designed to help one to relax, develop internal energy or compassion, and love, to those designed to develop concentration and mental responses to health issues and human emotions and prayer. Over time, one may experience an altered level of consciousness (an overall pattern of subjective (psychological) functioning (3)) and experience prolonged positive changes in happiness (4).

Since the word meditation has come to include references to both Eastern and Christian systems one might consider the religious context within which it is practiced (5). For example, meditatio was a Greek 12th century term used to describe a stepwise system designed to of meditation. The Tibetans used the word (Gom) to describe how one becomes familiar with states that are beneficial or those practicing Buddhism and Hinduism the term was dhyana from the Sanskrit root dhyai. It may also refer to Islamic Sufism or Jewish Kabbalah and Christian Hesychasm (6).

Scholars have noted that “the term ‘meditation’ as it has entered contemporary usage” is parallel to the term “contemplation” in Christianity, but in many cases, practices similar to modern forms of meditation were simply called ‘prayer’ (7).” Christian, Judaic and Islamic forms of meditation are typically devotional, scriptural or thematic, while Asian forms of meditation are often more purely technical (8).

Meditation Techniques

Just as there are multiple ways to meditate so are there numerous techniques. These include focused meditation, activity focused meditation, mindfulness meditation, and spiritual meditation (9).

Since music has a very powerful therapeutic effect on the human psyche it is logical for it to become an important component in the practice of meditation. When incorporated into meditation practice, music serves to assist one to be aware of moods and emotions by focusing on the sound and vibration of each note and allowing the music to experience the feelings it brings up within (10). Try singing. Singing is a good way to slow down and regulate breathing and promote relaxation (11). Try not to do anything else at the same time. Don’t read, catch up on paperwork, and turn off your cell phone.

As far back as 4,000 years ago the chanting was a means to use the voice to associate musical sound with prayer (12). Mantras, which are simple phrases, were incorporated into practice with results similar to those found when chanting. Here again, music can be a powerful aid to meditating.

As a musician who has been involved in the use of music as therapy I would like to suggest that properly done, music can be a meditation technique in itself. Listening to Buddhist meditation music such as “Songs of Tara is an example. It is a meditative collection of mantras, chants, and praises to help connect to the energy of this swift and heroic goddess (13). Tibetan Meditation Music provides an environment designed to quiet the mind and bring peace to the heart (14).

If these suggestions are not your cup-of-tea, think about calming your mind by listening to classical Western music (16). Daniel Kobialka’s catalog of music provides a number of selections, which serve this purpose. Try listening to his renditions of Mystique .

Since the primary object of meditation is to live in the moment, creating your own music is an extremely good way to practice mindfulness. Because it is a whole-body experience it not only requires proper breathing but also a full awareness of the mind. As with other meditation techniques one must take the activity seriously.

References

  1. Lutz et. al; Slagter, HA; Dunne, JD; Davidson, RJ (2008). “Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation.” Trends in cognitive sciences 12 (4): 163–9. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2008.01.005. PMC 2693206. PMID 18329323
  2. Watts, Alan. “11 _10-4-1 Meditation.” Eastern Wisdom: Zen in the West & Meditations. The Alan Watts Foundation. 2009. MP3 CD. @4:45)
  3. Tart C. States of consciousness. — New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1975. Web edition (1997): http://www.druglibrary.org/special/tart/soccont.htm
  4. http://stress.about.com/od/lowstresslifestyle/a/meditation.htm
  5. Christian spirituality: themes from the tradition by Lawrence S. Cunningham, Keith J. Egan 1996 ISBN 0-8091-3660-0 page 88
  6. The verb root “dhyai” is listed as referring to “contemplate, meditate on” and “dhyāna” is listed as referring to “meditation; religious contemplation” on page 134 of Macdonell, Arthur Anthony (1929 (1971 reprint)). A practical Sanskrit dictionary with transliteration, accentuation and etymological analysis throughout. London: Oxford University Press.
  7. Jean L. Kristeller (2010). “Spiritual engagement as a mechanism of change in mindfulness- and acceptance-based therapies.” In Ruth A. Baer & Kelly G. Wilson. Assessing mindfulness and acceptance processes in clients: Illuminating the theory and practice of change (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger): p.161. ISBN 978-1-57224-694-2.
  8. Halvor Eifring, “Meditation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Technical Aspects of Devotional Practices”, in Halvor Eifring (ed.), Meditation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Cultural Histories, 2013, ISBN 978-1441122148 pages 1-16.
  9. Elizabeth Scott. Benefits and Different Types of Meditation Techniques.
    Techniques for Relaxation. Retrieved April 8, 1014.
    http://stress.about.com/od/lowstresslifestyle/a/meditation.htm
  10. Elizabeth Scott. Everyday Mindfulness Exercises For Stress Relief. Pick Your Favorite Mindfulness Exercises. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
    http://stress.about.com/od/tensiontamers/a/exercises.htm).
  11. Twelve ways to Reduce Stress with Music: Fill your Life with Music that Reduces Daily Stress. http://helpguide.org/mental12-ways-to-reduce-stress-with-music.
  12. Sonia Gallagher. Why Use Music for Meditation. Retrieved April 8, 2014. http://www.mymeditationgarden.com/learn-to-meditate/meditation-music/why-use-music-for-meditation/
  13. Sounds True. http://www.soundstrue.com/shop/3665/3665.pd. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  14. Tibetan Music Therapy with Spiritual Music Sounds for Zen Meditation.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJS98i7Ci8Q
  15. Deep Tibetan meditation music.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc6VqCdOqpY
  16. Prabhjit Singh Role of Music in Human Life. http://EzineArticles.com/3235603. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  17. Daniel Kobialka.
  18. A Whiter Shade of Pale / Air on a G String – Daniel Kobialka

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