Here are three commonly held myths about meditation music:
1. You can’t meditate while listening to music.
A lot of people don’t believe it’s even possible to meditate while listening to music. If you fall into this category you may have only been exposed to certain methods, such as mantra practice or focusing on your breath. It’s true that neither of these popular approaches lend themselves to practicing with music. But the style of practice called mindfulness can be applied in lots of ways, including listening to your favorite music!
2. You can only meditate with relaxing music.
Many people believe relaxation is the primary goal of meditation. In fact, calming the mind is an essential facet of the meditative path. Equally essential, though, is the cultivation of insight. Mindfulness practice is designed to promote insight. In fact, it’s also known as insight meditation. With mindfulness, you’re not looking to achieve any particular state (such as relaxation). Instead, you’re working meditatively with whatever comes up. So, if you’re listening to music as your practice, you’re discovering what’s happening inside you while you listen to that music. You’re exploring your relationship to the music, as a path of self discovery. Ultimately, insight is what turns any ordinary experience, like relaxation, into a profoundly satisfying experience. And you can listen to any music you choose, to develop insight.
You might also find it helpful to be aware of the current scientific research on music therapy. According to the latest findings, music listening is healing when you enjoy the music you’re listening to. End of story. So, if heavy metal is your thing, rock on!
3. You can only achieve deeper states with certain kinds of music.
Lots of people believe music must be categorized as spiritual in order for the result of listening to be spiritual. If you have this preconception, meditating with anything other than kirtan, chanting, new age, sacred music, binaural beats etc. would seem less productive. If you enjoy these styles of music, then by all means, practice with them! You need to be doing whatever encourages and supports you in the challenging task of maintaining a meditation practice. And you’re the best person to figure that out.