Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart. -Pablo Casals
What is it about music and meditation that cause them to be so important to me? Sound and vibration and silence and stillness are found throughout the universe. It seems to make sense to me that it would also speak to me, and that I would also feel the need for both in my life.
Music was the first to speak to me. As a small child it was music that helped me fall asleep and calm myself. As I learned to perform other’s music – Bach, Handel, Debussy, Faure and on – I came to understand that music provided a safe place to touch emotions I didn’t otherwise give space to in my day to day life. Music became deeply personal. As that happened, my ability to play in front of others diminished. Now, it is just for myself. Listening to music changed as well. I found that certain types of music connected to different emotional states I was feeling or wanted to feel. Listening to music became purposeful, as well as enjoyable.
Meditation extended the purposefulness into the realm of silence. I remember the first time I was guided through a meditation experience. I was 20-years old and working as the waterfront director at a summer girls’ camp, and the head of the camp decided that as part of staff training we would also participate in a guided meditation. My tent mate and soon to be best friend Anne practically quoted A Chorus Line after the guided meditation, “I dug right down to the bottom of my soul and I tried, I tried……but I felt nothing.” I, on the other hand, recounted to Anne all that I experienced. She rolled her eyes, and I was hooked.
When I listen to music or meditate I connect with something larger than my self. Both are heart-based practices. Both provide an opportunity to acknowledge and feel different aspects of my thoughts and emotions, to get out of my head and into my heart. They provide respite and recharge throughout the day. They help to release stress and anxiety, but more importantly through music and meditation I am able to soften and open my heart to all around me. I find my morning meditation to be my most powerful practice as it creates a foundation for the day. Morning meditation provides an opportunity for me to check in with my self and the universe. By focusing my mind, emotions, and senses first thing in the morning, the calm, peace, and devotion that arises sets the tone for how I approach challenges throughout the day. I am able to lead with my heart.
My morning meditation occurs at 4:30am while everyone in the family is still asleep and after Winston, our bull mastiff, and I have gone for our morning walk. I have a dedicated space, a cozy cushion to sit upon, and a candle. I sit in a comfortable seated position, roll my shoulders backwards, then forwards. I slightly lower my chin and just breathe. Some days I set an intention. Some days I chant. Some days I sing mantras. Some days I ask a question and then listen. Some days I focus on a natural element – earth, air, fire, or water – represented by a special rock or crystal, an aromatherapy blend, the candle, or a bowl of water. Some days I focus on an ancestor through a family heirloom. Some days I just sit and focus on 108 breaths. When I come out of morning meditation, I am able to carry the awareness that arose to all of my daily activities.
There are many types of meditation practices. All it takes to get started is a quiet space and a few minutes. Once I developed my practice I discovered I can drop into my meditative space any time I need it throughout the day, just like I do with music.
Some meditation resources:
- Jon Kabat Zin – guided meditation available on Audible: Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 1, 2, and 3
- Britt B Steele – guided meditations on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/8vWTW
- Insight Timer – is a free app for mindfulness that is available on Google Play and the App Store. I have used Insight Timer for years and love it because I love setting the timer how I want it – duration, starting bell, ending bell, etc. The app also has tons of available meditations (as well as music, yoga, courses, live events) – I haven’t explored them yet but they are there if I want to explore options.
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