Thursday, January 21, 2010

Music as Meditation

I once took classes in Transcendental Meditation at a TM center in Atlanta and I was surprised at just how well it works. After only a few tries I was able to get into a very still, peaceful place inside my mind. With practice I found I could stay there for longer periods.
I practiced it daily for a while but then somehow life sort of got in the way and I had less and less time to devote to it. I grew rusty, but I still remember my mantra.

For the past year or so I’ve been working on my own form of TM that involves boy choir music. Here’s how it works.

Find some time to be alone, just you and your stereo or your iPod. Take off your shoes and lie on the sofa or bed, or sink into your favorite chair with your feet up.
Turn on your favorite boy choir. Maybe you’re in the mood for some classical music from the Vienna Boys or some spiritual pop from Libera. Some hymns from the American Boychoir would be nice or, my favorite, that ambient, ethereal music on the album ‘Agnus Dei, Music of Inner Harmony’ from the Choir of New College, Oxford. It works with all sorts of boy choir music (although, I doubt it would be very effective with country or rap).

Now, close your eyes and relax. Free your spirit; clear your mind of all thoughts. Just hear the music, follow the music, but don’t think about the music, just go with it. Go like a boat on the ocean, like a kite on the wind, let it bear you aloft, feel the movement, the sensations.

The song is a stream that wants to carry you along through swift water and still pools. The voices are the sunlight that sparkles and dazzles your eyes, they are the deep, dark shadows that lure you with their mystery, they are the rhythmic ripples that form patterns around you. Float along freely, and don’t be afraid when you feel the music touching your very soul with its soft, cool fingers.

If you find that stray thoughts are trying to intrude just ignore them and switch your focus back to the music. Eventually it will become easier to do. Don’t go to sleep now. Just hear the music and drift along, letting your mind sink deeper like a rock in a pond seeking the bottom.

This is the way to enlightenment, my children. Now… send me all your money.


  1. This is one of my favorite meditation techniques as well. I just picked up some Celtic music which is really good for this.

    PS: The check is um... in the mail. Yeah, that's it! heehee

  2. Hi Larry.

    I'm not sure if you like the religious aspects of choir music but have you heard the webcasts by St John's College Choir, Cambridge? Tthe one for the Epiphany service is wonderful (thin A Festival of 9 Lessons by Kings but on the 12th day of Christmas). Many people consider St John's to be the better choir but I have a soft spot for Kings :)

  3. Charlene, I love Celtic music too. I love the traditional music and also artists like Enya and Anuna. Who are you listening to?

    Andy, I do get very moved listening to services. Unfortunately, I live out in the countryside and don't have access to hi-speed internet. There is no DSL or cable here and the big hill behind me blocks out satellite reception. What that means is that when I want to download something like a webcast I usually have to let it run overnight so I don't get to hear nearly as many as I would like.
    I agree with you, I love St John's but King's College is special somehow.