Meditative Melodies

How Sound Deepens Meditation



wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com

When life is stressful, we know we need to relax. The question is how. Many wonderful ways involve combining music with a meditation practice. Although we can’t always control our surroundings, we can learn to control how we react to and internalize what happens around us.

On the value of meditation and mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, observes, “When we do studies of this, we find we can change our brains. We can change our relationship to our emotions. We can change our relationship to the actuality of things in ways that are healing. The immune system responds.”

Because sound affects us on all levels—emotional, mental and physical—combining musical processes with our meditation practice can be highly effective in easing stress. Cultures worldwide have long used music to lift the spirit and enhance meditation and healing.

Choosing Meditation Music

Choose recorded music that helps calm mental chatter. Here are some criteria.

• Slow rhythms. These entrain bodily systems, including the heartbeat, pulse, digestion, respiration and muscle functioning, to a more natural rhythm.

• Natural sounds. They give a sense of peace.

• Nurturing tones. Typically, these are clear, warm and gentle.

• Uplifting, not gloomy. The music should give rise to a sense of joy and beauty.

• Absence of hooks and refrains; avoid repetition and familiarity that engage the analytical mind.

• Flowing. It is soothing and feels akin to nature.

• Sub-audio frequencies. The presence of these is an optional way to entrain brainwaves to an alpha or theta state that allows relaxation and healing to occur.

• Intention. It’s important for both the musician and listener.

Here are several self-generated ways to further enhance meditation.

Controlling Breath

We can live without food for weeks and water for days, but breath for only minutes. A simple way to begin breath work is by taking a fast, full inhalation, followed by a long, slow exhalation. With practice, both breath control and stress levels will improve.

Vocal Toning

This uses the human voice to produce elongated vowel tones or humming sounds that can empower meditation. It also slows and lengthens our exhalation by putting a brake on the breath.

Begin by taking a deep breath and then, with the mouth open, make a simple vowel tone such as ahh or ohh. With the exhalation pushing out a sound, the tone follows naturally.

Mantra and Chant

Mantras can keep the demons of our monkey mind from distracting us. The word means “mind protection” in Sanskrit. A mantra is characterized by a short sound or phrase that carries a vibration and frequency that extends beyond the simple meaning of the words. Using mantras can help overcome mental chatter, de-stress and set us up for an expansion of consciousness.

Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, documented a phenomenon he named “the relaxation response”. His research discovered that those that repeated mantras for even 10 minutes a day experienced physiological changes—a reduced heart rate, slower metabolism and lower stress levels, all of which allow the body to return to a more natural state of wellness.

Singing Affirmations

Research led by Carnegie Mellon University’s David Creswell found that people using self-affirmation also can protect against the damaging effects of stress on problem-solving performance.

An affirmation is a positive statement spoken in the present tense asserting that a desired goal is already achieved. With sufficient repetition and focused intention, declaration becomes reality. Adding a melody to our affirmation and singing it repeatedly enhances its power.

Mind-body expert Dr. Deepak Chopra agrees, stating, “Music helps to take the affirmations to a deeper level of the mind so that a process of emotional and spiritual transformation can start.”

We are constantly affirming in our mind what we believe. With perseverance, repetition and steadfast belief in them, the words of our affirmations become a part of us. Before long, we notice we are achieving what we may have previously thought was impossible. Accessing the rich array of music and sound modalities available can help deepen meditation, decrease stress and allow us to benefit from a higher and much improved quality of life.


Dudley Evenson and her husband, Dean, are sound healing pioneers who have produced award-winning music since 1979 through their label, Soundings of the Planet. Their new book is Quieting the Monkey Mind: How to Meditate with Music. Learn more at Soundings.com.


This article appears in the September 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

News Briefs

Local Heart Walks Happening This Year

Local Heart Walks Happening This Year

Heart Walks fund the AHA’s research and awareness programs.
Unique Therapy Effects Transformation through Movement

Unique Therapy Effects Transformation through Movement

“Change the Dance of Life healing reshapes emotional patterns of life and relationships at the cellular and conscious levels by physically moving subtle energy.”
Local Wellness Coaches Building a ‘Gym for the Soul’

Local Wellness Coaches Building a ‘Gym for the Soul’

“The center will be a hub for heart-centered collaboration, personal evolution and business growth—a spiritual home for healers and those seeking healing, alike.”
World Tai Chi Qigong Day: One Breath, One World

World Tai Chi Qigong Day: One Breath, One World

On April 27, In Balance Tai Chi Studio, in Brewster, will invite the public to celebrate the 20th annual World Tai Chi and Qigong Day (WTCQD) with a presentation.
Qi Revolution Comes to Danbury

Qi Revolution Comes to Danbury

The three-day training will be available in Danbury, Connecticut, from April 13 to 15 at the Amber Room Colonnade.
A Quarter-Century in Green Lawn Care and Pest Control

A Quarter-Century in Green Lawn Care and Pest Control

“I do a lot of research and testing of my oils; I even make a pet line and a human line. It’s all safe and natural."
Bethany Arts Community Accepting Applications for Artist Residencies

Bethany Arts Community Accepting Applications for Artist Residencies

The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EST on April 30
Awaken Wellness Fair Returns to Tarrytown

Awaken Wellness Fair Returns to Tarrytown

April 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel
Arts Therapist Offers Friday Workshops in Hastings-on-Hudson

Arts Therapist Offers Friday Workshops in Hastings-on-Hudson

The group is for adults wanting to explore and work through challenging issues in their lives, expand their creativity, overcome creative blocks and strengthen their inner resources.
Environmental Group Asks New Yorkers to Press for Climate Bill

Environmental Group Asks New Yorkers to Press for Climate Bill

“To save our future, we’re asking people to urge their state assembly member, state senator and Governor Cuomo to remove the loopholes and set stronger objectives in the CCPA and remove nuclear energy from New York’s future energy portfolio.”
CranialSacral Therapist to Lead Mount Kisco Workshop

CranialSacral Therapist to Lead Mount Kisco Workshop

2 to 4 p.m. on April 27
Balance Studio Launches 30-Day Custom Wellness Program

Balance Studio Launches 30-Day Custom Wellness Program

Those interested in learning about it is invited to register for the studio’s free information session on April 1, when they can meet the team behind the program.
Spa Week at Sarah’s House of Health

Spa Week at Sarah’s House of Health

April 1 through 6
Great Saw Mill River Cleanup Set for April 13 and 14

Great Saw Mill River Cleanup Set for April 13 and 14

“Volunteering at this feel-good community event is great way to celebrate Earth Month.”
New Armonk Shop Carries CBD Products

New Armonk Shop Carries CBD Products

“Our goal is to help educate our customers on its benefits while bringing the best-quality CBD products to our community.”
Solar For All Program Assists Low-Income New Yorkers

Solar For All Program Assists Low-Income New Yorkers

Eligibility for Solar for All, which is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion NY-Sun program, is based on a resident’s location, household income and annual electric usage.
The S P A C E Sanctuary Opens in Chappaqua

The S P A C E Sanctuary Opens in Chappaqua

“It was created as a place to gather, rest, breathe and heal.”
Bernadette Bloom Discusses Esoteric Healing on The Transformation Show

Bernadette Bloom Discusses Esoteric Healing on The Transformation Show

5 to 6 p.m. on March 7
Ward Off Spring Allergens with Nettle Leaf Tea

Ward Off Spring Allergens with Nettle Leaf Tea

Something as simple as drinking nettle leaf tea prior to and during early spring can be a helpful preventive practice.
Petition Demands Environmental Impact Study of Cricket Valley Project

Petition Demands Environmental Impact Study of Cricket Valley Project

Davenport is urging people to sign the petition asking New York leaders for an updated environmental impact study of the Cricket Valley Energy project.
Fresh Organic Becoming ‘Go-To’ Salon for Hair and Scalp Issues

Fresh Organic Becoming ‘Go-To’ Salon for Hair and Scalp Issues

Feeding the Future in Yonkers

Feeding the Future in Yonkers

Feed Your Future is part of a larger mission to empower communities to reclaim and revitalize environmentally and economically under-served neighborhoods.
Riverkeeper Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Riverkeeper Film Screening and Panel Discussion

5:30 to 9 p.m., March 5, at the Newburgh Brewing Company
NewLife Expo Returns to New York City in March

NewLife Expo Returns to New York City in March

March 22 through 24
Hilltop Hanover Farm Holds Maple Fest Weekends

Hilltop Hanover Farm Holds Maple Fest Weekends

March 23 to 24 and March 30 to 31
Rhinebeck Pilates Plans April Conference at Jacob’s Pillow

Rhinebeck Pilates Plans April Conference at Jacob’s Pillow

April 26 to 28
CBD Info Talks in Bedford Hills

CBD Info Talks in Bedford Hills

Free informational session on CBD products every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Juice Detoxes Work Better and Faster

Juice Detoxes Work Better and Faster

“The body doesn’t have to break down the solids, and the results are faster and better.”

Add your comment: