10 Best Albums of Music for Meditation
Meditation music is an interesting concept because the goal of meditation is to empty the mind of thoughts (or at least detach ourselves from them). If we use an external input like music to “replace” those thoughts, there is always the possibility that we will fixate on and become attached to the music instead. We can start to think… Do I like what is playing right now? Does this feel right? What does my response to this music say about me?
Mediation is something we carry with us that requires nothing other than our dedication to doing it.
As a frequent meditator, I have spent time meditating in almost every situation imaginable: alone at home, in a parked car, in a raging after-hours warehouse party, economy airplane seats, train stations, classrooms, park benches, etc. I have always felt that mediation is something we carry with us that requires nothing other than our dedication to doing it. We could be naked and possessionless, and still, we have everything we need to meditate.
And yet… music can be an amazing enhancement to the process. Like a verbal guide instructing us and encouraging us to go deeper and let go, music can take us on a journey in a way nothing else can. With this in mind (pun intended), here is what I look for when selecting music for meditation (when I do choose to add music to the experience).
Criteria for Good Meditation Music
Wordless – Words are the quickest and most sure way to get our minds actively thinking and reacting. For meditation music to be helpful in our ability to let go of thoughts, the first thing it needs to do is avoid inserting more thoughts through lyrics. Now, the occasional word or short phrase can be fun for those who are more advanced to see if and how we respond, but complete songs with lyrics are not helpful for most meditations.
Subtle – During meditation, we become hyper-aware of our senses – both physical and spiritual. For example: if our eyes are closed, then our hearing and feeling senses are enhanced. The meditation music I prefer has enough layers and subtlety to be deconstructed by the mind and heard differently through focused and conscious listening. If there is percussion, it is usually diminished in the mix, sounding more like an instrument than a feature. We could say that music for meditation should imply rather than insist. Another element of subtlety would be smooth transitions. My favorite changes are the ones that I don’t fully notice until it has already completed.
Harmonic (Consonance) – Most meditation music has some melody and harmony, with percussive elements either completely missing or diminished in the mix. To promote relaxation, the melodies and harmonies should be pleasing and resolve themselves in satisfying ways. For those new to the word “consonance,” it is the opposite of dissonance or discord. It means that tones are harmonizing with each other in pleasing ways (typically in major and minor keys). Dissonant sounds are more often used to create tension and suspense in film and television. We are conditioned to respond negatively to discord. That said, the advanced meditator may find it interesting to allow for some dissonance in their experience to see if and how they respond – a great lesson in resilience in the face of potential disruption.
Warmth & Shine – These are all about the mix. As a music composer and audio producer, I thoroughly enjoy hearing a world of sound crafted to perfection. I define warmth as round and present low and lower-midrange frequencies (roughly 20 Hz – 250 Hz). These can be felt in the body more than heard with the ears. These low tones have the ability to stimulate the body and help us to relax. Shine comes from clear and distinct higher frequencies (roughly 2 kHz and up). The combination of warmth and shine can help us to let go and feel rather than think. When both are present, I can feel chills up my spine. The mid-range frequencies are typically easier for composers and producers to work with and are generally where most of what we perceive as music is taking place. A true master of sound knows and can capitalize on opportunities to expand our sensory awareness at the extreme low and high frequencies.
Consistency – Meditation music is working when we don’t have to pay attention to it. If it is constantly changing, then it becomes entertainment and a distraction from our inward focus. Mediation music should be more like a natural environment – like air or light – something we can be aware of but is also just there, suspending us in the space we are creating. I look for slow and gentle changes that transition between similar or related sound palates. We can let go when we are not wondering what is going to happen next.
The Journey – Within the consistency described above, there is still room to move through different sonic spaces. A great album of meditation music brings us along on a feeling journey with heights and depths, introducing us to different corners of the world of sound we are inhabiting. A common journey may consist of establishing the world, exploring the world, introducing some light tension, then resolving that tension with a blissful reward and release.
What you WONT find in this list…
The Meditation Technique I Use
There are many techniques and methods for meditation. The method that I use definitely informs the music I select for meditation. I work with a system taught by The Modern Mystery School called The Max Meditation System™. This technique combines meditation styles from Japan, India, and Tibet with modern psychology and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). In this system, we achieve detachment from thoughts and clarity of focus by moving through the following stages.
using NLP to command the body to relax
- Passive Meditation
emptying the mind of thoughts
- Active Meditation
focus on a single word/concept
- Guided Visualization
engaging the imagination
- Soothing Down
slowly returning to normal consciousness
If you are interested in trying The Max Meditation System™, please check our schedule of events.
A List of My Favorite Meditation Music
This is a list of my favorite albums to meditate with. I have ranked them from most accessible and universally useful to the most challenging. If you give them each a listen, you will find that the lower albums on the list have a greater range of feeling and some include some uncomfortable moments that do eventually resolve. So, if you want endless bliss, start with number one. If you are ready for a journey, skip down the list and see if you can find something you like. What is most important is finding something that works for you and gets you into that state of clarity and non-attachment. Ultimately, we may all find that the best music for these goals is no music at all.
#1 – Lucid Surrender: The Ambient Meditations
#2 – Weightless (10 Hour Version)
by Marconi Union
#3 – Caverns of Time
by Evan Bartholomew
#4 – Music for Airports
by Brian Eno
#5 – A Winged Victory for the Sullen
by A Winged Victory for the Sullen
#6 – Flying
by Garth Stevenson
#7 – Solaris – Original Motion Picture Score
by Cliff Martinez
#8 – And Awake
#9 – Deconsecrated and Pure
by Alio Die
#10 – Somnus
Am I missing something?
Do you know of some other great meditation music albums that are not on this list? Please share the album name and artist with a link to hear it in the comments below.
An initiated Spiritual Guide and Ritual Master in the Lineage of King Salomon through The Modern Mystery School. He works with the universal system of Living Kabbalah to help others cultivate the Tree of Life in their own lives and become powerful creators. Osiris produces events and original music through Blessoteric Records, using this medium to showcase conscious artists and music.