Can You Meditate With Music? (6 Steps to Listening to Music While Meditating)

  • By: Ryan Kane
  • Updated: May 2, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Can you meditate with music? Meditating with music is a totally valid option, even though not every meditation tradition does it. Music and guided meditations can be especially helpful for beginners, as a way to focus the mind, or for anyone who needs to meditate in a noisy environment.

Especially if you’re a beginner, it’s easy to feel like you might not be meditating “correctly.”

Music and guided meditations can be especially helpful for beginners, who often need extra guidance or a way to “set the mood” for your mind and remind yourself that you’re spending this period of time attempting to stay present and nonjudgmental.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to meditation – what works for one person might not work for another.

Here’s a breakdown of why you might consider meditating with music, including some of the benefits, as well as a few possible drawbacks to keep in mind.

Can you listen to music while meditating?

Can you listen to music while meditating
Listening to music while meditating is a popular option for many people

Yes. Absolutely. When I sit down to meditate, I use music every time.

There are hundreds of options here, like Insight Timer, Calm and Headspace. Brain.fm happens to be the one I prefer, because it also has great focus music for work. It’s entirely a matter of personal preference.

Meditating with music is what I like, and I’ve done it for years. But that doesn’t mean I’ll keep doing it that way forever.

You don’t necessarily need to meditate with music.

But if you feel called to try it, by all means, go for it.

What type of music should you listen to while meditating?

Ideally, you want music that’s relaxing and calming.

Something repetitive that doesn’t distract you from the task at hand: staying present and bringing your thoughts back when they inevitably stray to the past and the future and to wandering thoughts and judgments.

That’s why music with lyrics can be challenging.

There’s no reason not to try it, if you like. But it’ll probably make your experience more challenging. In addition to the thoughts generated by your own mind, you’ll also have to contend with the lyrics of the song as well as any associations they bring up for you.

You’re probably better off with instrumental music, classical music, nature sounds, or music that’s been made specifically for meditation.

Meditation with or without music (pros vs cons)

Meditation with or without Music Pros and Cons
To download a printable PDF of this image, click the button below

When you listen to meditation music, it can have a number of effects on the brain, from creating a more relaxed environment, to setting the stage for your meditation practice.

Pro: Creates a relaxed environment

Listening to music while meditating can help to create a more relaxed environment.

This can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety levels, especially if you are coming from a chaotic environment, or need to drown out the sounds around you.

Theoretically, this can be helpful in allowing the person to focus more on their meditation practice.

Pro: Gets you in the proper frame of mind

You may find that music helps create a type of Pavlovian effect to set the stage for your meditation practice.

If you play the same music before each meditation practice, it may help you get in the proper frame of mind.

Pro: Some music can reduce distractions

There are some types of music that attempt to create science-backed sounds to help you enhance your meditation environment.

Brain.fm, for example, creates music purpose-built to get you into a certain mental state with a sound technology called neural phase locking.

Their tracks are intended to sit in the background of your mind and reduce distraction.

Can You Meditate With Music
Music is a double-edge sword. It can reduce distraction in a noisy environment – but it can also be the source of distraction

Con: Music can also be a distraction

Meditation in a classical sense typically doesn’t involve music. Think of Zen Buddhism, which typically has practitioners sit on a cushion facing a wall, staring at the ground.

There may be sound reasoning behind this. Music can potentially be a distraction, even if it’s intended to be relaxing, calm meditation music.

Some people may find that adding music into the mix may also make it harder to notice when we’re getting lost in thought.

Con: You get less “real-world” practice

Meditating with music may give you fewer opportunities to apply your attention skills in a real-world environment.

If you’re meditating with music, you’re drowning out many distractions from the environment you’re in, from birds chirping to traffic noises to people talking.

At first, these noises can be distracting and bring you away from your practice. But over time, you can learn to tune them out and focus on your practice even with distractions. That’s why meditating with no headphones in a noisy environment can be a valuable practice, too.

Do you need music to meditate?

You don’t need music to meditate. You can meditate anywhere in silence, without any outside aid. It’s one of the great things about meditation.

Especially if you’re in a peaceful environment, like the woods or by the ocean, you probably want to forego the music and absorb yourself in the sounds around you instead.

However, depending on the environment you’re in, music may help drown out outside noises and prevent distractions.

In a noisy world, music can be a real help.

How to meditate with music

How to Meditate with Music
To download this image as a printable PDF, click below

Here are a few steps to meditate with music:

  1. Choose the right type of music. It is important to choose music that is relaxing and calming, and that does not have a lot of lyrics.
  2. Listen to the music with headphones if possible. This will help to ensure that the music is only audible to you.
  3. Sit in a comfortable position. You might want to use a meditation cushion or a yoga mat.
  4. Close your eyes. Listen to the sounds and allow them to wash over you.
  5. Let the music fade into the background and focus on your breath. The music is here for you as an aid, but it shouldn’t be a focus. Let the music drift into the background, and focus on an object of concentration like your breath.
  6. When you get distracted, come back to your breath. Bring your attention back to your breath when your attention drifts away.

Is it better to meditate with or without music?

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to meditation – what works for one person might not work for another.

If you’re in a peaceful environment, meditation without music is probably the better option. If it’s quiet where you are, you should probably try sitting in silence first. This may help you better focus on watching your thoughts nonjudgmentally.

If you’re in a noisy environment, or simply need a refuge, then music (especially with headphones) is probably the right choice for you.

Frequently asked questions

Can you meditate to music with lyrics?

Meditating to music with lyrics can be challenging.

This is because lyrics are designed to grab your attention. Since meditation involves watching your thoughts and turning your attention inward, meditation with lyrics can be counterproductive because it pulls you away from that focus.

Can you meditate with headphones?

Yes.

In fact, many people find that they can better focus on their meditation practice when they use headphones to listen to music.

This is because the music is only audible to them, and can drown out any noises and distractions from the outside world. However, it is important to choose the right type of music, as meditation music should not be too distracting.

Is listening to music meditation?

Listening to music isn’t automatically meditation. However, listening to music while meditating can help you to drown out distractions, improve your focus, and get into the right frame of mind for meditation.

Can you meditate while listening to music?

Not everyone can meditate while listening to music. But for many people, it’s a preferable option because it drowns out distracting noises. There are also specific types of music that are designed for meditation, and can help get your brain into a state that’s primed for relaxation.

Want More Content Like This?

Woman sitting in the forest after meditation

Previous Post

What to Do After Meditation (And How to Feel the Effects For Longer)

Next Post

Yoga vs Meditation (Plus Benefits of Each)

Woman doing yoga on a mat looking towards a window