Having been meditating daily for a while now, I’ve finally made up my mind about the role of background music in meditation. For me, I prefer going without.
Music, even without lyrics, is fundamentally distracting. I mean, I’ve begun to see it as literally (yet another) form of distraction to stimulate our mind.
When our goal is to sit upright and use our breath to focus on being present, music only serves to whisk us away into the infinite horizon of our mind.
I think this is particularly true for short meditation sessions. For me, it’s 10 minutes every morning after a full glass of water and before breakfast.
In short sessions, I’ve found that music serves as a soothing stimulant rather than a catalyst for being present. I usually don’t feel much calmer and on top of things after meditating with music.
I’m not sure how it’d work for much longer sessions though. It could be that after passing a threshold, our mind adapts to the music and it actually starts helping us come back to the breath and being present. There’s certainly something else to be said about music that matches the natural rhythms of one’s daily life!