Music as Meditation

Photo: Light Festival in Amsterdam
Photo: Light Festival in Amsterdam

I spent quite a bit of time on trains, planes, and buses this Christmas vacation. While so much time in transit wasn’t always fun (not to mention tough on the lower back), it gave me ample opportunity to do something I love: listen to music.

Music has been one of my greatest passions for as long as I can remember. Actually, passion is a bit of an understatement. As cliché as it sounds, calling it my oxygen may be more accurate. I got my first Walkman tape player (paired with Little Bow Wow’s “Beware of Dog”) at the age of nine, and since then I’ve spent most of my waking hours with headphones on, an array of different beats and melodies pumping into my ears.

A Changing Relationship

When I was younger, listening to music was an activity in and of itself, and I would find myself completely entranced by the songs I listened to. However, as I’ve grown older and busier, my relationship with music has changed. It’s now more of a background presence in my life, something I always have but don’t give my full attention to. Rarely do I listen to music without doing something else at the same time.

That’s something I want to change this year.

Since being mindful is my main focus in 2017, I’d like to explore listening to music as a means to do that. This means fully engaging with the music I listen to. Instead of only listening to music while going about my day, I want to set aside an hour or so each week to listen to a full album or playlist while not doing anything else. No phone. No internet. No trying to be productive. Just listening.

I guess you could say I’m trying to make listening to music a form of meditation. And in the process, I hope to rediscover the joy that music once gave me.

My recent travels gave me a chance to try this. On two separate train rides I was able to listen to two albums in their entirety. While I did occasionally check my phone and chat with whoever I was traveling with, I spent the majority of the time just focusing on the music, letting my eyes casually take in the passing landscapes.

As I allowed myself to really pay attention to what I was hearing, I noticed that everything sounded slightly better that usual. For the first time in way too long I felt like I was truly hearing the music.

Weekly Listening Updates

In order to hold myself accountable, starting next week I will be posting listening updates on a weekly basis. I’m still not completely sure how they’ll look, but I imagine them as a mix between album reviews and reflections on my mindfulness practice. At the very least, they will give me a space to share my love of music with the blogosphere and hopefully explore some new music as well.

Here are the two albums I listened to while traveling, plus my favorite song from each. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Run the Jewels 3 by Run the Jewels (Rap/Hip-hop)


Zaba by Glass Animals (Indie Rock)


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