Meditation is stillness. Stillness reflects back the fact and the texture of both the mind’s and the body’s awarenesses. This reflecting can allow insight, peace or bliss, or it can unmask troubling impressions that are requesting resolution, height or discharge.
There are components or facets of meditation:
1) a still mind (or at least a mind which is not at all ruffled by its thoughts.
2) a blissful state, which may or may not be recognised as such.
3) that the body doesn’t siphon attention to any discomfort.
4) that interviews with difficult emotions that arise may assist finding a deeper state.
Meditation is the gently intentional act of either allowing or pursuing the establishing of a dialogue or unity between one’s deeper self and the surface, personality self. It is both an activity and a result, a ritual and an experience, but it reaches to embrace what is beyond obvious experience.
A contemporary person doesn’t need to follow instructions, meditation is something that can be cultivated as a natural extension of relaxation, of quiet reflection or even a thoughtful or intuitive reading atmosphere.
Goal and no goal:
To have a goal in meditation can be off-putting because, as with attracting the mythical unicorn, there are experiences that are new, transformative and unfamiliar even if they might feel familiar once embraced.
One goal though could be to use a sound as a lens for attention, a chant, one’s breathing, background sounds, for instance, in order to occupy the mind with simple observing, so as to then free it.
A sixteen year old student of mine used what he called a mindless computer game to occupy his mind in a banal way, so as to allow emotional experiences of the day at school to realign and sift themselves. That to me is meditation and illustrates well the use of a foreground image to free the unconscious mind to settle itself.
Meditation can use a simple or repetitive image or sound to turn the mind’s beam of attention back on its source.
Bliss can come from very gently and quietly digging into the root of one’s identity, even if initially the emptiness may not yet reveal itself as a wonder. With practise, the background presence will reveal itself as having always been there.
Any form of music can be used for meditation. The important thing is that it not disturb one’s attention from becoming aware of itself.
In many ways, listening to any music can be a form of meditation, in that it establishes an “energy discussion” with the deep unarticulated realm of experience. If music can assist in taking a large percentage of attention off itself into the interior of the self, then it can be particularly useful.
Some of the first ever music specifically for meditation was created by myself in the UK and Stephen Halpern and Iassos in the USA in the mid 70s. It is a very personal choice as to what one chooses to meditate to or what one responds to, and as to how any piece of music might be truly useful for your meditation.
So-called minimal music was developed in the 60s by my friend Terry Riley, and by Charlemagne Palestine and LaMonte Young, as well as by Philip Glass, Steve Reich and John Adams, who made it more popular. (I would recommend all 6 – particularly the first 3, but choose carefully to suit your taste and sensibilities).
Minimal music uses limited information or material (less is more) usually through repetition or drones, so that the listener is made as aware of their own listening process and its selective shifting, as they are of the objective music “out there”.
This focus on presence (rather than on form which is the case with most music) can at best be a wonderful music that leads one into the depths of personal recharge and discovery of huge proportions.
Conclusion: You may or may not use sound or music as a catalyst towards meditative presence, If you do, remember that the means and goals are at best temporary and that meditation is ultimately about transcending everything. Including placebo effects to occupy the foreground mind.