Is it OK to meditate to music?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby AnthonyR » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:02 pm

Please excuse me if this has been asked before. I searched but didn't see a similar topic. Some people have told me that you shouldn't meditate to music because it can be distracting. However, I've been meditating to the Meditations for Transformation Series CD's by Snatam Kaur, and I find it relaxes me and increases my positive energy. Does anyone have any guidance to offer on this?
_()_
AnthonyR
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 11:55 pm

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby justsit » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:35 pm

It depends on how you define "meditation" and how you define the "goal" of meditation.

If you want to relax, feel peaceful, bliss out, tune in to the universe, etc. - then sure, listen to music.

If you are following the path of the Buddha, and want to sit with awareness, observing your mind, learning how your mind works so you can dispel illusion and see clearly - then no. Music will only be distraction.

Just my .02. YMMV
:anjali:
User avatar
justsit
 
Posts: 641
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:24 pm
Location: Delaware

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:43 pm

justsit wrote:It depends on how you define "meditation" and how you define the "goal" of meditation.

If you want to relax, feel peaceful, bliss out, tune in to the universe, etc. - then sure, listen to music.

If you are following the path of the Buddha, and want to sit with awareness, observing your mind, learning how your mind works so you can dispel illusion and see clearly - then no. Music will only be distraction.

Just my .02. YMMV
:anjali:

Make that 0.04, because it's exactly what I was going to say.

:meditate:
Kim
User avatar
Kim O'Hara
 
Posts: 791
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:09 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:12 am

AnthonyR wrote:Please excuse me if this has been asked before. I searched but didn't see a similar topic. Some people have told me that you shouldn't meditate to music because it can be distracting. However, I've been meditating to the Meditations for Transformation Series CD's by Snatam Kaur, and I find it relaxes me and increases my positive energy. Does anyone have any guidance to offer on this?
_()_


what just sit said is correct
"If you are following the path of the Buddha, and want to sit with awareness, observing your mind, learning how your mind works so you can dispel illusion and see clearly - then no. Music will only be distraction."

BUT when you initially start meditation your mind might be bouncing off the walls everywhere,this monkey mind will hinder any one pointed awareness you are trying to achieve so you could first use music to calm your mind before you starting sitting meditation.

you could sit in meditation position and have the CD play for 15 minutes,and calm and still your mind and then after 15 minutes the song automatically shuts off and you can start sitting with awareness on the breath or Kasina or whatever your teacher advises you to do.
so you can use it as a meditation aid.
User avatar
Son of Buddha
 
Posts: 849
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:48 pm

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:30 am

No, you should not.

Breaking your dependence on sensory pleasures is part of what allows you to focus on your meditation object unwaveringly. If you're feeding on the music you won't enter concentration.
Ramon1920
 
Posts: 231
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:57 am

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Jul 20, 2013 2:05 am

Ramon1920 wrote:No, you should not.

Breaking your dependence on sensory pleasures is part of what allows you to focus on your meditation object unwaveringly. If you're feeding on the music you won't enter concentration.


That's actually not true
you can enter into meditation based upon any of the senses.
MOST people enter meditation based upon the awareness/concentration upon the sense of "feeling" which is the awareness of breath "feeling"(either in the nose or abdomen)

others use Kasinas where their concentration/awareness is based on "sight" using a visual image from the "sight/eyes" they can then transfer it to a mental image

in the surangama sutra(25 sages of speak of Enlightenment) ALL senses are used as the "object" of awareness in many different ways so "hearing" can also be used as for this purpuse.

(but again "hearing/object" is not easy to concentrate on but it is very useful in stilling and calming the mind to great degrees where it makes it easier for one to attain awareness of the breath/feeling/object)

first you have to still the monkey mind music helps,going straight into awareness on the breath can be an uphill battle against your wavering awareness to the onslaught of random thoughts.
User avatar
Son of Buddha
 
Posts: 849
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:48 pm

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:20 am

Son, I am surprised you know about the mental image(nimita/sign) necessary for the kasinas. That makes it easier to talk about these things.

I have only heard of reputable instructions using sound as a meditation object in the form of seed syllables and such, and even then the nimita must be used.

The nimita here, not meaning a vision, is the purified mental image and a wavering sound will not suffice in the same way that staring at a coloured disk, with it's colours changing hues due to our imperfect eyes, would not do.
Ramon1920
 
Posts: 231
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:57 am

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:57 am

Ramon1920 wrote:Son, I am surprised you know about the mental image(nimita/sign) necessary for the kasinas. That makes it easier to talk about these things.

I have only heard of reputable instructions using sound as a meditation object in the form of seed syllables and such, and even then the nimita must be used.

The nimita here, not meaning a vision, is the purified mental image and a wavering sound will not suffice in the same way that staring at a coloured disk, with it's colours changing hues due to our imperfect eyes, would not do.


like you said not many teachers will teach using the sound as an meditation object.
I find it taught in some chinese chan sects,where they will use the Amituofo chant.

Now you already know that the visible "sight" object is replaced by the "mental image"(not actual eye sight)
Have you ever heard of the "hearing" object being replaced by the "mental hearing"?(being able to hear the chant mentally without hearing ears)

Some chan teaches speak of this type of mental hearing nimitta instead of the mental image nimitta.
(i can dig up a you tube video if you like.)

My personal opinion and general meager experience..is that when I try to sit with awareness of breath (feeling object)i have a hard time maintaining awareness of the breath,due to my mind jumping everywhere,then I experience the aggitation because "i" know my awareness is being disturbed which is further counter productive,then on top of that you fight boredom.

I find when I do chanting Amiuofo with gong sounds causes the random thoughts assaulting me to cease, the chant replacing all random thoughts and causing my mind to still and remain calm and in bliss.
After 15 minutes the chant ceases and I have very little or no resistance when i transtition into awareness of the breath(feeling object)

So I use "hearing object" as a meditation aid to help still the mind enough to have a smooth awareness of breath practice.
User avatar
Son of Buddha
 
Posts: 849
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:48 pm

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:46 am

Son, there are sound nimitas. It is uncommon for it to be spelled out in the generation instructions of texts, several things are skipped over, but sometimes you will see the explicit instruction for the syllables to also produce their sounds. I should say it because it comes to mind, there is a standard six step generation for yidams, it is almost never explicitly taught so you should get a book or something to learn about it and it is very important. It is laid out clearly in the grounds and stages of tantra teachings and teachings like the ngag rim? I forget the name now. It's like lam rim, but for tantra. The lam dre probably has it too but I don't remember now.

It occurred to me between this post and the previous that one of the 84 mahasiddha stories involves a man who gained some attainment by playing a sitar or some such instrument. The 84 mahasiddhas are not necessary people you want to imitate though.

In the case of the Amitofu, that is would be a verbal fabrication aimed at calming the mind.

Since you seem to use breath as the object.

The Satipattana sutta gives instructions on how to calm the mind and body with the breath by exerting a perception fabrication. "He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.' " - MN 10

If you are looking for instructions on this from a Vajrayana context you can, if you have instructions, do 9 stage vase breathing or check your respective manuals under "pacifying the winds to make the body and mind serviceable to calm abiding" or some terminology like that. It is possible that you received Vajrayana teachings on subtle karmic winds, you can use those instructions also to calm the body quickly.

While there is a subtle distinction between the lam rim topic of pacifying the winds and the 5 hindrances, you could also check any old manual from the Vishuddhi Magga to the Heart instructions of various teachers.
Ramon1920
 
Posts: 231
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:57 am

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:07 am

Ramon1920 wrote:Son, there are sound nimitas. It is uncommon for it to be spelled out in the generation instructions of texts, several things are skipped over, but sometimes you will see the explicit instruction for the syllables to also produce their sounds. I should say it because it comes to mind, there is a standard six step generation for yidams, it is almost never explicitly taught so you should get a book or something to learn about it and it is very important. It is laid out clearly in the grounds and stages of tantra teachings and teachings like the ngag rim? I forget the name now. It's like lam rim, but for tantra. The lam dre probably has it too but I don't remember now.

It occurred to me between this post and the previous that one of the 84 mahasiddha stories involves a man who gained some attainment by playing a sitar or some such instrument. The 84 mahasiddhas are not necessary people you want to imitate though.

In the case of the Amitofu, that is would be a verbal fabrication aimed at calming the mind.

Since you seem to use breath as the object.

The Satipattana sutta gives instructions on how to calm the mind and body with the breath by exerting a perception fabrication. "He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.' " - MN 10

If you are looking for instructions on this from a Vajrayana context you can, if you have instructions, do 9 stage vase breathing or check your respective manuals under "pacifying the winds to make the body and mind serviceable to calm abiding" or some terminology like that. It is possible that you received Vajrayana teachings on subtle karmic winds, you can use those instructions also to calm the body quickly.

While there is a subtle distinction between the lam rim topic of pacifying the winds and the 5 hindrances, you could also check any old manual from the Vishuddhi Magga to the Heart instructions of various teachers.


good stuff.

yea sound nimittas are something that is so rarely mentioned that I rarely even bother to discuss them with anyone.
heck your the first people I have talked to that didn't cock his eye or post ??????????????????? when i brought Kasinas up
I was beginning to think only backwoods cambodian Thervadans had ever heard of Kasinas much less practiced them.

I LOVE the practice of Kasina but I'm not good at holding the mental image.

do you have any advice on strengthening this practice
or any manual that can lead me through a stage by stage process?
User avatar
Son of Buddha
 
Posts: 849
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:48 pm

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby lobster » Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:37 am

AnthonyR wrote:Please excuse me if this has been asked before. I searched but didn't see a similar topic. Some people have told me that you shouldn't meditate to music because it can be distracting. However, I've been meditating to the Meditations for Transformation Series CD's by Snatam Kaur, and I find it relaxes me and increases my positive energy. Does anyone have any guidance to offer on this?
_()_


You have to be distracted and motivated into meditation. This is happening. Now as relaxation and positivity is increased, what is your plan? :popcorn:
User avatar
lobster
 
Posts: 951
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Ramon1920 » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:46 am

Son of Buddha wrote:
good stuff.

yea sound nimittas are something that is so rarely mentioned that I rarely even bother to discuss them with anyone.
heck your the first people I have talked to that didn't cock his eye or post ??????????????????? when i brought Kasinas up
I was beginning to think only backwoods cambodian Thervadans had ever heard of Kasinas much less practiced them.

I LOVE the practice of Kasina but I'm not good at holding the mental image.

do you have any advice on strengthening this practice
or any manual that can lead me through a stage by stage process?


Very few teach the kasinas to lay people because they are incredibly difficult to cultivate compared to the breath or the divine abidings.

If you want to cultivate a kasina you will need to practice very strict and continuous sense restraint, possibly for months, on a single kasina.
You will also need to become very familiar with the 5 hindrances and their antidotes to troubleshoot your disposition and energy.
Making merit will improve your meditation drastically.
Making the image stable is something like learning to hold back a sneeze, there are impulses to jump off or to pay uneven attention to different details and after you've dealt with the hindrances to the best of your ability it's a matter of developing a skill.
Caffeine may help you, but as firmly as I believe caffeine to be a major food group I've heard it makes some people anxious.

You will want to get a copy of the Vishuddhi Magga. It has a section on the kasinas that has practical instructions on setting up disks, the progression of developing the individual kasinas, and which kasinas are suitable for which temperaments and the powers developed. There are a few short instruction manuals online that I've seen on colour kasinas but they did not have anything very useful.

The kasinas are practiced in the Vajrayana, but like most things in Vajrayana they are integrated into the larger practice of particular deities.

Some time ago I put a lot of effort into developing a colour kasina, I did not develop even the purified nimitta in a way I think was satisfactory. With colour kasinas people distinguish 2 nimittas, one being the stain on your eye when you close it after staring, and then another being the stainless purified colour disk nimitta you mentally create and have stabilized.

Developing even a single kasina is very hard, I don't actually know how hard because I've not done it yet, but it was still very worth while for me to try and there was a lot of benefit. The most notable benefits being increased understanding of how to meditate, validating some of the Buddhas' claims about the joy of a concentrated mind, recognizing the burden of sensory pleasures and notions of who I am, and the improved skill to stabilize visualized images so they can become more luminous, clear, detailed, textured, and in other ways refined.

As a side subject, I think you should put daily effort into developing your memory so these things you read and hear will be accessible to you whenever you or other people need them. A wide range of detailed knowledge and the ability to cite the source raises the standard of everyone and is indispensable to others on the path. I recommend Manjushri practice for this, but practices to develop special memory are not limited to Manjushri. Manjushri can also help with school grades immensely.
Ramon1920
 
Posts: 231
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:57 am

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:02 am

"Ramon1920"
Very few teach the kasinas to lay people because they are incredibly difficult to cultivate compared to the breath or the divine abidings.

agreed


"Ramon1920"If you want to cultivate a kasina you will need to practice very strict and continuous sense restraint, possibly for months, on a single kasina.
You will also need to become very familiar with the 5 hindrances and their antidotes to troubleshoot your disposition and energy.
Making merit will improve your meditation drastically.
Making the image stable is something like learning to hold back a sneeze, there are impulses to jump off or to pay uneven attention to different details and after you've dealt with the hindrances to the best of your ability it's a matter of developing a skill.
Caffeine may help you, but as firmly as I believe caffeine to be a major food group I've heard it makes some people anxious.

will attempt
"Ramon1920"
You will want to get a copy of the Vishuddhi Magga. It has a section on the kasinas that has practical instructions on setting up disks, the progression of developing the individual kasinas, and which kasinas are suitable for which temperaments and the powers developed. There are a few short instruction manuals online that I've seen on colour kasinas but they did not have anything very useful.

yea it seems most talk about the (after effect) or the result more than the step by step process needed for it,
i'm fimiliar with the full moon or candle practice,I have heard about the disks(and seen them on some websites) but I have never even seen a disk in person.
mostly used candle in center of pitch black room

"Ramon1920"
The kasinas are practiced in the Vajrayana, but like most things in Vajrayana they are integrated into the larger practice of particular deities.

I was beginning to think it only existed in some remote Thervadan schools

"Ramon1920" Some time ago I put a lot of effort into developing a colour kasina, I did not develop even the purified nimitta in a way I think was satisfactory. With colour kasinas people distinguish 2 nimittas, one being the stain on your eye when you close it after staring, and then another being the stainless purified colour disk nimitta you mentally create and have stabilized.

I was told the 2nd nimitta that was created was not a true Nimitta.
(EXAMPLE)1st is the stain on your eye, then you create a mental image "nimitta" from that stain,and maintain it(this replaces the "sight" sense stain of eye with a created mental image nimitta)
after that concentration is purified with the initial "created" mental image Nimitta.
the true natural arising mental image Nimitta arises without ever being created.
now you have your "created" mental image Nimitta and the "naturally arisen" mental image Nimitta
from there you switch to the natural uncreated image focus on the center with awareness...........................

(this is heard from explanantion not an actual experienced practice)
(also i have heard that its easier to use awareness of the breath cause the transference of awareness over to the natural arising Nimitta is easier to accomplish then from created nimitta to natural arising nimitta)

i hope I didn't confuse also this info might not even be correct hearsay can only go so far
User avatar
Son of Buddha
 
Posts: 849
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:48 pm

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Ramon1920 » Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:17 am

Your explanation of three nimittas makes sense.
I checked the VM and it only talks about the learning sign(the disk or whatever used) and the counterpart sign(the refined mental sign with no faults). I do know that others have further categorized the nimittas in developing a colour kasina though.


That version of the light nimitta, using a candle in the dark, is not the best idea. It might be better to go into a dark room and poke a hole through a wall so that some light can come in. This poking a hole in a wall is also used for the space nimitta. The VM goes into a fair amount of detail in how to make the kasina disks. Read the chapter on the Earth Kasina because most of it applies to all the other kasinas also.

When you develop one of the lighter coloured nimittas or a light nimitta, you can expand that light to encompass large areas to develop the divine eye. I heard that before but I don't recall it being in the Vishuddhi m.

Vishuddhi Magga http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... on2011.pdf
Buy a bottle of printer ink online for about $10 and refill an inject printer. It's really cheap to print in bulk this way. You might need a chip re-setter for some printers so check online first.
Ramon1920
 
Posts: 231
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:57 am

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby AnthonyR » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:09 pm

Thanks for all the input. Very interesting points made. I should note that when I say "meditate to music", I do not mean that I am concentrating on the music. The object of concentration is the breath. The music only serves as background. Personally, I find it no more distracting than, say, traffic noises, or birds chirping outside, or my cats meowing. What it does for me is calm my mind as I get started, and then reinforce the positive energy I feel as I meditate. Perhaps the best approach for me may be to use the music as I begin to meditate, and then turn it off after a few minutes, as Son suggested.
_()_

To answer lobster's question, I feel the relaxation and increased positivity lead to better awareness meditation.
_()_
AnthonyR
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 11:55 pm

Re: Is it OK to meditate to music?

Postby Jikan » Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:52 pm

AnthonyR wrote:Please excuse me if this has been asked before. I searched but didn't see a similar topic. Some people have told me that you shouldn't meditate to music because it can be distracting. However, I've been meditating to the Meditations for Transformation Series CD's by Snatam Kaur, and I find it relaxes me and increases my positive energy. Does anyone have any guidance to offer on this?
_()_


You haven't found a topic like this one here at DharmaWheel because this is a Buddhist site, not a comparative meditation one. The meditation you are describing belongs to a different tradition.
Thanks to the help of generous sponsors (most of them from DharmaWheel), I'm doing a Vajra Armor (Dorje Kotrab) self-retreat this summer. May the merit be yours!
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4946
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm


Return to Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

>