What Is Meditation Anyways? A Question That Causes Tremendous Confusion!
To truly understand what meditation is, you need to first understand what meditation isn’t.
Meditation isn’t something you do. It’s not an act of sitting down with your legs crossed and your eyes closed!
Meditation is something you become. You become meditative when you shift from “doing” to “being”. The “doing” is something we’ve become accustomed to since our birth. From that time till now, 99.999% of your life has been spent “doing”. Now you might be thinking, how can that be so, how can it be that I’m “doing” something when actually I’m not really doing anything. I might just be sitting and not doing anything.
That is not so! Even when you’re doing nothing, you’re doing something, always cooking up something or the other in your mind through your thoughts and emotions.
Please look at it honestly and ask yourself when was the last time you truly did absolutely “nothing”? A time where you just sat absolutely still with not a single thought in your mind. If you’re most people, sadly this has never happened or might have happened for only a few moments over an entire life.
If you can maintain absolute physical and psychological stillness, then this is meditation!
Till then you’re simply trying to meditate, without having much success. If you’re like most people, you might sit for 15 mins and freak out because your mind is all over the place! Most people can’t come to terms with this so they quit altogether.
You need to understand one thing: all the crap that surfaces in your mind, all the thoughts and emotions are yours! You put that crap in there and now you’re freaking out when it plays out!?
If you want to become truly meditative (not western meditative!), then you first of all need to come to terms with all the rubbish in your mind. See if for the crap that it is and move on. Easier said than done of course but this is the only way. There are no shortcuts. Next time you hear someone talking about meditation, remember this one thing:
Meditation is not an act, it’s something you become! It’s something you become if you pay the necessary attention and maintain the necessary discipline.
Why Should You Listen To Me?
Everyone and their grandmother has something to say about meditation. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, although I do think people should speak from a place of experience. Actually even experienced meditators who think they know it all really know nothing! But having some experience does help.
Since April 2019, I’ve been meditating every day most days up to 3 hours, sometimes more, sometimes less.
Does that make me some kind of expert meditator? Absolutely not! I’m just as foolish as I was back in 2019, the only difference is I realise that more and have come to terms with it more. So should you listen to me?
Yes if you like an upfront, no BS approach to meditation. No, if you want to hear the same spiel 90% of other bloggers will already tell you. If you want the latter, best you Google and check out some other blog.
Should You Meditate In Silence Or With Music?
Should you sit in silence or with music? For the rest of this post I will dissect this question much deeper. At the end, I will share what I think might work best depending on where you’re at.
Before we even go any further, let me clarify: if you’re attempting to realize absolute stillness (from here on stillness refers to physical and psychological stillness), music is an absolute no-no!
When I say music, I mean listening to Rihanna, ASAP Rocky, Justin Bieber, or whatever other favourite artist you may have. If you want to listen to music, then go listen to music, finish with that and that only! In other words, don’t mix “doing” with “being”.
The question then should be should you sit in silence or with sound (not music!)? Let’s talk about sound. Sound, if used in the right way can have tremendous impact. Consecrated sounds specifically can totally transform you in ways you can’t imagine. I know this firsthand from experience!
How is this so? What is the science or logical explanation as to how certain sounds can be beneficial to one’s spiritual growth?
There have been studies conducted which conclude that meditation with sounds showed a significant increase in the well-being markers of the participants involved. In this particular study, a singing bowl was used as the means to produce sound. If you’re interested, you can check out the full article here.
As for the exact science and logical reasoning…..I unfortunately don’t have a suitable answer for you. However, I will say that there’s a time and place for logic. Logic works well at the survival process, but fails miserably when it comes to understanding the mystical.
If you wish to explore mystical dimensions, it’s best you keep your logic aside. Anyways the petty mind will never come close to grasping/understanding what truth is all about!
When I say put your logic aside, I mean shift your state of mind from “thinker” to “explorer”. In other words, move from trying to understand life, to instead exploring life. If you maintain this awareness alone, your life will become blissfully sweet! Coming back to sounds and meditation….
The right sounds arranged in the right manner can definitely help you get into deeper meditative states, no question about this. But what about silence? Should we never sit in silence? See it’s as simple as this:
People who cannot sit still need to focus their attention and thoughts onto something, so those people utilise sounds to help them. Those who have arrived at an understanding within themselves anyways know that their thoughts/emotions are all rubbish and do not need to be given attention. For these people, sitting in stillness is not a problem because they can become meditative very easily. The latter might be monks who’ve been practising meditation for several years consistently.
So there’s no right or wrong answer to this. It really depends on you. If you can totally surrender yourself both physically and psychologically to the silence, then no need for sounds. However, if you’re constantly dreaming up what you’ll have for dessert after dinner, then best to focus your attention on carefully consecrated sounds.
But What Sounds Should You Listen To?
Let’s try an experiment with you today: take your finger and drag your fingernail against an object to create a screeching sound. The best example of this is when you take a piece of chalk and carefully drag it along a blackboard.
When you hear the high pitched screech how do you feel? What impact does the sound have on you?
If you’re like most people, you want it to stop! This is the power of sound. Similarly, there are sounds which make you feel relaxed, joyful, and calm. Like the birds chirping in the morning, or the sounds of raindrops hitting the ground.
Generally, the more aware you are, the more you will start to realise how these things impact you. Here’s an interesting video where realised mystic, and New York times best seller, Sadhguru, talks about the effect of sounds on the human system.
Coming back full circle about what sounds are best to listen to…..this is a question best answered by experience of trying!
You must dedicate some time to explore this. Sit quietly, undisturbed for a period of 10-15 minutes with your headphones on listening to various sounds. Most people these days like to listen to binaural beats, as it helps quickly get them into deeper meditative states. If this is so for you, continue listening to binaural beats!
If you’re new to all of this and just want something new to try out, you can sit in stillness with eyes closed while listening to the below recording. This is called Nada Aradhana and it’s a kind of sound offering usually with no vocals. It’s pure sound! Meditating with these sounds in particular has been a tremendous experience for me. This video especially is quite magical, and you’ll quickly see why once you go through it!
I purposely selected this specific video because I know firsthand the kind of impact it can have. Once you experience this for yourself, you won’t need to read another blog post!
Like this there are tons and tons of awesome videos with sounds you can use to deepen your meditative practice. The best part is they’re all on YouTube and all free, although some of them have ads which does get a little annoying. Anyways, the best way to understand this as mentioned earlier, is by exploring and seeing for yourself how various sounds impact you.
I hope this post has been insightful, and if anything, I hope it inspires you to experiment with sounds and meditation. If you enjoyed reading, please consider sharing this post on the social platforms. Lastly, feel free to get in touch by dropping a comment down below. Take care and we’ll see you in a week’s time!