Updated: Oct 28, 2021
‘Music is meant for meditation.
That is the prime purpose of music.’
~ Brahmarshi Pitamaha Patriji
People have always recognized the power of music to uplift the spirit, nourish the soul, and connect with the divine. Pythagoras, unifying spirituality and mathematics, spoke of the ‘Music of the Spheres’—a harmonic resonance created by the motion of all the celestial bodies in the universe. The 3,400 years old Hurrian Hymn—the world’s oldest melody found inscribed on clay tablets in Syria—is dedicated to the goddess of abundance. Hindus, Buddhists and Jains say that the most soulful music is created by Gandharvas, heavenly beings and divine musicians.
Many Indian spiritual movements integrate spiritual music forms—bhajans, kirtans and ragas—as a part of a seeker’s sadhana. In the Sufi tradition, the qawwali devotional singing is placed at the very core of the mystical experience. Sufu music pulls both the performer and the listener into an elevated states of consciousness, which is often described as divine ecstasy, deep surrender, spiritual union, or a feeling of oneness. The holy Gospel music is another Christian form of praise, prayer and faith in the divine. Church chorus singing as a spiritual practice has been present among religious orders in both the Eastern Orthodox (liturgic music) and Western Catholic Christianity (Gregorian chant). Such ritual music performance has the power to create a state of ‘group flow’ which leverages synergies of the group, facilitates social connections, and amplifies the benefits for everyone participating in the activity.
‘Music is the only language that comes very close to silence, the only sound which is able to create the soundless. . . . The ancient-most tradition of music is that it was born out of meditation.’ This is how Osho spoke about music and meditation, and emphasized: ‘We are made of music.’ He further said: ‘There is nothing closer to meditation than music—wordless, meaningless, but tremendously significant.’
Guru Nanak—the founder of Sikhism—accompanied by his disciple and musician Mardana, always began his discourses with a veena music performance. Music created the right atmosphere, and became a medium for conveying profound spiritual truths. ‘One cannot separate music from the Guru’s teachings,’ it is often said in Sikhism.
G.I. Gurdjieff—one of the greatest spiritual masters of the 20th century—spoke about the power of the ‘objective music.’ Music was one of the key integral components of his teachings. He believed that the ‘objective music’ is eternal, that it represents an encoded or condensed form of esoteric knowledge, and that it has the capacity to direct one’s spiritual development.
The Buddhist Jātaka Tales contain a story about one of Buddha’s earlier incarnations, as a veena player in Varanasi. Known under the name of Master Guttila, he was so talented and skilled, that he was known as the best musician of that time. It is very likely that this exposure to music significantly contributed to his karmic evolution. Even after attaining nirvana, Buddha used the metaphor of a musical instrument, to convey a deep spiritual teaching. He described the Middle Path in the following way: ’If the strings of the veena are too tight, they will break; if they are too loose, they will not create any music. The spiritual path should be similarly tread.’
Music has a well-known therapeutic effect. Scientists have shown that music can regulate blood pressure, ease pain, help recover injury, and decrease the risk of heart disease. Carefully curated music has the power to enhance one’s life and to heal the body, mind and the spirit. Greek physicians have used various music instruments, including the flute, to heal patients. In many tribes and cultures, shamans have used ‘healing songs’ known only to a limited number of insiders. Today, music therapy is a growing field in both the traditional and modern fields of medicine.
Spiritual music has the power to uplift the spirit, calm the mind chatter, and stabilize the breath pattern. Music can be a powerful aid to meditation, as it almost effortlessly creates a positive shift in our state of mind. It helps us withdraw our senses towards a place of inner calm.
Scientific studies have shown that music can lower the secretion of the stress hormone (cortisol). Listening to music triggers a release of several hormones—the neurotransmitter dopamine (’the feel-good’ hormone), serotonin (a hormone related to immunity) and oxytocin (which plays a role in our ability to connect/bond with others). Meditation also rewires our brain, so that we become open to receiving and experiencing positive emotions. Scientific studies have concluded that listening to music also strengthens memory and our capacity for learning, and also raises IQ and verbal intelligence. From treating insomnia to using it in pain management, scientists continue to explore the wide range of benefits of music therapy.
Different types of sound have specific frequency range. It is scientifically proven that listening to music changes the bioelectrical brainwave activity and enhances brain plasticity. When music is used as a background for meditation, we can more easily alter the state of consciousness and shift our brainwave activity towards the alpha-theta bands of brainwave activity.
While we are in active, wake state, beta brainwaves (13–38 Hz) are predominant. These are the brainwaves of an active mind. Meditation and mindfulness reduce the beta waves and induce the alpha band of frequencies (8-12 Hz). The alfa brainwaves are known to suppress stress, promote the release of serotonin, and boost creativity. In deeper states of meditation, we stimulate the theta waves (5–8 Hz), which have low-frequency and allow us to experience elevated consciousness, develop creative visualization, and access the subconscious mind.
In terms of subtle energies, music promotes full-body aura cleansing, balances the seven-chakra system, and helps in releasing negative emotions or suppressed traumas. In that respect, music can be a powerful self-healing tool.
Meditative music, especially when performed by a spiritual Master, has the ability to raise your personal vibrations, open up, cleanse and heal your Heart Chakra (Anahata), and create the right Heart-Mind coherence. When combined with meditation, music becomes a gate towards higher dimensions. It enables you to connect with your Higher Self and with the divine Source of all things and all beings. Our loving Master, Brahmarshi Pitamaha Patriji, is also an accomplished flute player and an engaging singer. He has devised techniques which combine music with meditation, for experiencing profound spiritual states.
Join a 4-day festival of Music and Meditation at Pyramid Valley or online PMC Youtube channels from Nov 5th to 8th 2021. Jointly presented by Pyramid Valley and Pyramid Music Meditation Academy, this event has around 8-hours of music every day - performed LIVE by renowned classical musicians. Admission is FREE. Check out the details at https://pyramidvalley.org/pmmfest.