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Why Does Sound And Music Meditation Work Faster And Is Easier To Shift Consciousness Than Other Meditation Practices?
Particular sounds, frequencies, and rhythm patterns have an undeniable influence on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states. Unlike traditional meditation techniques sound and music meditation engages multiple layers of our beings simultaneously making it easier to access a deep state of relaxation and inner stillness.
From ancient times different cultures have drawn upon specific resonating sound patterns in community for the group unification and for connecting within and with the group, developing collective resonance, alignment and harmony. Ancient cultures also drew upon these specific frequencies and patterns for individuals healing sessions because of the deep and profound changes that are transformative.
What are the properties of these particular sounds and their patterns? How are the sound and music meditations different from other kinds of meditation? Are all sounds and music the same?
Properties and Differences: Monotony and Predictability Lead to An Absorptive State
Characteristics of particular musical listening meditations have a predictable and deliberate use of monotonous external sounds as stimulus that create a state of awareness called the ‘absorptive state’. The absorptive state means because of the monotony and the predictability of the sounds the listener shifts their awareness inward releasing the external world, while transferring their attention into an internal world.
The absorptive state is also a narrowed awareness of external surroundings, being in a state of flow as an openness to whatever arises, and a hyper-focused, immersive, and inner amplified experience. Being still and having eyes closed also contributes to shutting down the external world and going inward.
Monotony and Predictability
The same monotony and predictability of the sound patterns that carry the listener inward are also accessing states of consciousness where our highest functioning occurs. The highest states include where we experience insight, intuition, creativity and creative ideas which are components of problem-solving.
These areas occur outside the rational mind, and arise within without direct focus, and are accessed when we are in a relaxed state. When we access insight, intuition, creativity and problem-solving, competing thoughts are no longer present. The continuous, repetitious, monotonous, and predictable nature of the particular sound patterns brings us into this transformational consciousness through listening.
Opposite of Most Mind-based Meditations
When people draw upon a meditation that focusses on the mind there is an intensified awareness of thoughts. Mind wandering, cyclic thoughts, thrashing ideas repeatedly, and intrusive thoughts all show up in mind-based meditations. Often there is a cycle of thoughts that occur repeatedly, and one thought leads to the next thought.
This process of thought-watching continues within each meditation. This thought watching is often defeating, and people then quit meditation or say they are no good at it so they no longer consider it something they will do. This is unfortunate as shifting out of ordinary consciousness into meditative states offers a myriad of benefits that are amazing! Plus, simply thorough listening accessing the shifts in consciousness occurs.
In sound and music listening the process of listening is the focus and not the thoughts which mostly supersede thoughts.
In listening to the sound and music there is an unfolding that occurs because of the continuation. This unfolding engages the listener which overrides intrusive thoughts, the desire to move and general restlessness. If there is an intrusive thought the listener simply reconnects to the sound patterns and they are immediately carried easily back into the flow of the unfolding sound pattern. It is a simple process that is easy and gentle to navigate.
When using a quiet or non-sound and music meditation there is a consistent reckoning on the time that is passing and the time that has passed. Even when a timer is used there is a continuous sense of time passing, or not passing fast enough, that is until the person is able to shift out of ordinary consciousness which can seem extraordinarily long. When using particular sound and music meditations the structure of the patterns creates a continuous format. The flow of the listening is transformative. There is no need or concern for the time passing. The format defines the time with parameters gauged by the rhythmic continuous patterns. And the sounds change towards the end which is the cue to the ending which prepares the listener for reintegration into ordinary consciousness.
Another Marker of Effective Meditation
And music and sound meditation listening has another component of time perception added into it. Because the sounds carry our awareness, our perception of time often changes and can feel more expansive, as if more time has passed, or time can feel contracted, as if only a short time has passed. This is compared to the actual time on the clock and the minutes that have elapsed. This aspect of time perception, being longer or shorter than the minutes that have actually passed, is another identifier of effective meditation.
When using particular effective sound and music patterns they are all based on repetitions. Human beings primary learning is through the use of repetitions. And sound and music are always composed of repetitions in different formulas making learning from and with repetitions especially easy. Repetitions are the mother of all learning! These particular sound and music listening repetitions have a hypnotic and entrancing quality that facilitates the listener into a changed state of awareness and shift that improves focus beyond or outside of ordinary consciousness and within the meditation process.
The Relaxation Response
In listening to specific sound and music patterns there is a transition of consciousness into the Relaxation Response. The Relaxation Response encourages your body to release chemicals and signals the brain to slow down muscles and organs and increase blood flow to the brain. Dr. Bernard Benson, a Harvard MD identified the Relaxation Response that is the opposite of stress and the stress responses of fight, flight, or freeze (and fawn). Learning to access and trigger the Relaxation Response is a helpful way to release stress. The Relaxation Response is also beneficial for other mental and physical health conditions that are exacerbated by stress including immune compromised illnesses, insomnia, hypertension and heart disease, anxiety disorders, and gastrointestinal ailments.
Like Listening to a Lullaby
There are particular sounds, rhythms, and musical patterns that have a specific repetition with spaces between the sounds that simultaneously align and shift respiration, heart rate, and brain waves into the meditative state. These shifts are also the release from ordinary consciousness into the relaxed state of the Relaxation Response. The simultaneous shift in respiration, heart rate, and brain waves are the method of identifying effective meditation which is called entrainment.
Entrainment means synchronization of the beats or rhythm of the sound patterns and music with the natural functions and processes of the physical body which is what is occurring through the changes in the heart rate, brain waves, and respiration. Listening to these sound and music patterns is like listening to a lullaby; there is a gentle and imperceptible transition from one state of consciousness to another. In the lullaby the listener changes their breathing, heart rate, and brain waves simply by listening into sleep from waking consciousness.
Accesses Healing Endorphins
Sound and music listening releases positive endorphins, the natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body. These same endorphins help to alleviate pain, pain intensity and elevate mood, creating a state of calm, peace and mental clarity. While the endorphins are released there is a simultaneous diminishment of cortisol, the stress hormone.
The diminishing of stress and the release of endorphins build inner resources and strength. This confluence of different responses triggered by sound and music meditation leads to and develops resilience. Resilience is adapting to life-changing situations and emerging stronger than before. It is a coping strategy and is the ability to successfully navigate challenging situations, or a crisis through mental, emotional, and behavioral adaptions with flexibility and adjustments. The use of sound and music meditation, and especially consistent practice develops and deepens resilience.
Sound Familiarity, Neural Pathways and Feeling Awareness
When we listen to particular sounds and music that shift our consciousness and create the relaxation response and entrainment, we are creating a new neuropathway that is easy to connect to. Because of the repetitions and the shifts in heart rate, brain waves, and respiration there is a familiarity with the feeling of the process, from before without the change, the feeling of how the shift occurs, and then the feeling of being in the Relaxation Response.
When there is familiarity with the particular sound and music meditation, the person can hear the very beginning tones and patterns of a sound and music meditation they have familiarity with, and immediately and easily connect into the shifts in consciousness. This is because they remember the experience of the feeling and because they have created new neuropathways with the sound patterns. Their auditory receptivity cues feeling awareness with and through the neurological system.
Shift the Listener into the Heart
In sound healing meditations the musical patterns and tones shift the listener into the heart and feeling awareness, which is a resonant connection within and not into the mind. The sounds drop the listener into their body, into their inner self.
The location of connecting into the body is within the heart, the center balance point between being connected with Earth and being grounded and present, and with our spirituality and higher awareness as a place of centeredness. The heart-centered sound patterns de-emphasizes the mind and restores inner connection, which is the foundation of healing and sustaining balance.
This connection is significant for our relationship with our intuition, creativity, insight, and problem-solving as they are directly related to trust building. Intuition and trust building strengthen our healing and expand and deepen our inner relationship with our spirituality.
Whole Being Hearing
Contrary to what most of us are led to believe we hear with more than our ears!
While the ears are a dedicated organ for listening, we also hear with our whole being not just our ears. Our body feels sounds through the cavities within it, and we also discern sounds as pleasant or uncomfortable, annoying, or harmonious through and into our bones. We hear strong, percussive and other repetitions that are both heard by the ear and felt through the body.
While we can listen to sound and music through our earphones or headphones, listening
through speakers offers the additional method of whole-body hearing which adds additional layers of sensory sound healing experience that heightens the feeling of being transported in the sound meditation experience.
Combined with all the physical mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of particular, monotonous, and repetitious sound meditation; all contribute to a faster and easier method to shift consciousness.
Now you can practice what ancient people knew; the repetitious and predictable sound patterns that effortlessly and simultaneously shift heart rate, brain waves, and respiration that easily access the relaxation response gives you the necessary methods for many benefits including deepening into transformation.
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Repetitive Sounds Are Music to the Brain. (December 18, 2017). Karen Hopkin.
Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/repetitive-sounds-are-music-to-the-brain/