It is widely known that music enhances our physical and mental health. The ancient Greeks knew that music has healing properties and that is why they used it to cure various diseases. It has also been found to be beneficial to listen to certain types of music at certain times of the day.
In the morning we need to listen to music that gives us energy, while in the evening it is good to listen to music that relaxes and calms us down. The Indian musical tradition is particularly rich. Music plays an important role in the daily life of Indians and is mainly performed to praise and glorify God. This music is particularly healing and relaxing. It is said that the Indian music system comes from the Vedas (ancient scriptures of the Hindus).
The system of Indian music is based on modes and patterns of rhythms: a) raga and b) taal. Raga, which in Sanskrit means “colour” is related to melody, and taal to rhythm. In ancient India it was discovered that there are seven basic musical tones, which were derived from sounds of nature and animals. Each musical note corresponds to one of our 7 energy centers (chakras). When the frequency of a musical note is coordinated with the corresponding energy center, then it is activated and strengthened. We can also use the musical chants in combination to unblock and activate our energy centers and channels.
Music has a way of conveying divine vibrations, but music must also be divine. If it’s the right kind of music, then it can communicate. But this distinction comes only after self-knowledge. What one enjoys is the vibrations. One feels the divine vibrations and enjoys them. The cool vibrations are soothing.
In Sahaja Yoga, the awakening of the kundalini is done through music, as musical notes vibrate the chakras and the kundalini is awakened. The kundalini reaches the Sahasrara by passing through the Sushumna (the central energy channel) and through the chakras. Then the kundalini becomes one with the divine. The vibrations begin to flow, the yogis enter Nirananda (meditation with joy) and the seeker begins his journey on the path of evolution.
According to a recent study by the University of California, singing also can improve our health. During this research, an increased level of proteins, which our immune system uses to fight disease, was found in the oral cavity of people who sang. An increase of around 150% was seen in the singers during practice and an increase of around 240% during the concert. Many singers also reported feeling happy and euphoric when they sang.
The researchers hypothesized that the increased levels of these proteins may be due to the mental state of the singers as they familiarized themselves with the music. Also, some of the people in question had deep emotional reactions to singing. That’s why the researchers hypothesized that there could be a link between the immune response and the singer’s emotions.
Meditation: How to do it with music
When you hear the word “meditation” you may think of people squatting in a state of nirvana, but in reality, meditation is not for the few and chosen but for everyone who wants to unwind. It is no coincidence that meditation is one of the most popular strategies for managing stress. Through this practice you have the possibility to relax your body and “empty” your mind from the stresses of everyday life.
Music is also known for its ability to relieve stress and improve concentration. Thus, by combining the relaxing properties of meditation with those of music, you will be able to calm your body and mind and focus on the here and now. In fact, combining meditation and music can enrich the positive effects of both and provide you with greater stress relief.
Especially if you are new to meditation, listening to music can make the process much easier for you.
The steps for music meditation
1. Choose a meditation music that helps you relax
This practically means any music you like to listen to. If you don’t like classical music, for example, don’t choose it. You should also look for music with a slower tempo and preferably without lyrics, which can be distracting and thought provoking.
2. Find a comfortable position and relax
Many people think they have to sit with their legs crossed a certain way or use a pillow, but actually the position you feel comfortable in is the position you should try. For example, some people avoid lying down because they fall asleep that way when they are tired. In any case, you can experiment and decide what is right for you. Once you find your position, close your eyes, relax your muscles and make sure to breathe through your diaphragm.
Let your shoulders, your stomach, and even the muscles in your face relax. Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling your belly (instead of your chest) with air, then exhale through your mouth.
3. Stay focused on the music
If you find yourself thinking about other things (or even thinking about the music you’re listening to), try to redirect your attention to the present moment, the sound of the music, and the feelings the music is making in your body. Try to really feel the music.
4. Continue this practice for several minutes, until the time runs out
As thoughts enter your mind, gently let them go and redirect your attention to the sound of the music, the present moment, and your sensations.
The goal of this practice is to quiet your inner voice and just… be. So, try to fully immerse yourself in the music and you’ll feel more relaxed pretty quickly.
How to make the process easier for you
* You may want to start with a few melodies and progress to more as you get used to it.
* If you find that the music you initially chose brings up a lot of thoughts, memories and inner dialogue, try a different kind of music. Instrumental music can be less distracting than other types of music.
* You can calculate your meditation time based on the number of songs you choose, so you don’t have to worry about whether you need more time.
* If you find yourself thinking too much, don’t get discouraged. This is normal for those new to the meditation practice. Instead, congratulate yourself for noticing your inner dialogue and try to redirect your attention to the here and now.
Make sure you are dressed in comfortable clothes so nothing else will distract you.
How much time should I spend?
While 20 minutes is a good minimum time to benefit from a combination of meditation and music, even a song can help reduce stress and de-stress.