The art or practice of meditation has been around since antiquity. From prehistoric times and onward it has been used in religion, health, business, and many other aspects of life. Despite this very long tradition, it is not an easy word to define, simply because it varies across cultures and people. It can be described as increased mindfulness, relaxed focus, specific movements and chanting, and in some cases prayer.
Meditation can mean a lot of different things to many folks. In our modern times it’s fair to say meditation is for clearing one’s mind, helping one to focus, and potentially removing negative ideas from a strained thought process. That’s not meant as some flippant pseudoscience hippy mumbo jumbo, as having a more positive mindset is truly beneficial to one’s health. While meditation isn’t completely agreed on or fully understood, nearly any medical professional would tell you it is a healthy brain exercise to meditate. Of course not everyone is comfortable with meditation, perhaps that can be helped by adding something more to it.
Another human activity that has been around for many a millennium is playing music. For most people music is their greatest joy and can change one’s mood instantly depending on the song or genre. In the 20th century the two collided and meditation music became a very popular thing. The Beat poets of the 50’s and flower children of the 60’s embraced eastern philosophies, mind expanding drugs, and new music technologies. Eventually folks decided they wanted to alter their minds but in a more natural way. With meditation music the goal was to find enlightenment by flooding one’s senses with pleasant sounds while focusing on very deep relaxation. As the 20th century progressed our physical and mental health became a trillion dollar market. So much so that it’s hard to filter through what is legitimate advice and just nonsense meant to earn someone a quick buck.
Below we will go over some of the major aspects of meditation music and what is popular these days. One of the main aspects of this genre is binaural beats for meditation. Because binaural beats copy specific frequencies of our brain waves there is a strong chance that they are helpful in relaxation, rest, and enhanced mental health. These meditation beats help add an extra dimension to our tracks. Plus binaural beats and meditation music together may be just enough to help those who have trouble meditating. If you are easily distracted these can be great to keep your focus.
Ambient and Natural Sounds
One of the basics of meditation music is simple ambient sounds and the noise from the natural world. The most common new age music aimed at mindfulness is made up of calming sounds like rain, water flowing, ocean waves, even light human activity is acceptable. Ambient music is a style with no specific beats, chord progressions, melodies, or hooks. You can plug a synth into a couple delays and reverb pedals and play one chord to create and entire ambient track. The point of ambient music and natural sounds in meditation music is to create a mood or atmosphere. This is so you can remove yourself from your surroundings and focus on your concentration and breathing. It really helps block constant thinking for those of us who can’t shut our minds down!
It is even ok to use normal instruments when making ambient trackmeditation music; the key is to keep the playing very simple. You don’t want it to draw too much attention to the music or noise. Otherwise you lose the whole atmosphere and it just becomes overbearing instead of relaxing. For example you wouldn’t want trap beats or death metal dissonance to interrupt your mood. Just like in the nature sounds you wouldn’t want crashing thunder and annoying crows jostling you from your relaxation. With very simple audio and synth software it is possible to make your own backing meditation with music to suit your needs and goals if you decide to try the homemade route.
When two frequencies that are slightly different interfere with one another it creates a beat. If you can hear that beat as both tones play it is called monaural. If you take headphones and play one frequency in one ear and the other in the opposite ear it is called a binaural beat. Even more specifically to make a binaural beat the two frequencies must be under 1500 Hz with less of a difference than 40 Hz. If one tone is 540 Hz and the other is 530 Hz that will work, because they are only 10 Hz apart.
The binaural beat that we think we hear is only an illusion. Your brain actually hears the 530 and 540, but it also thinks it can hear the interval between them. So you are never really hearing a binaural beat, only perceiving it. The reason we add this auditory illusion to our mediation music is because depending on the difference binaural beats copy the same frequencies as brain waves. If you were to hook your body up to an EEG it would likely read one of these waves below.
Beta- at 13-30 Hz the brain is still awake, perhaps concentrating on a task.
Alpha- at 7-13 Hz we are dipping further into a relaxed state, still awake but not nearly as alert.
Theta- at 4-7 Hz we are in deep meditation or at REM stage sleep. Theta waves can be helpful for those looking for just deep relaxation not deep sleep. When using binaural beats for meditation these will be very helpful.
Delta- at 1-4 Hz we reach the stage of very deep sleep and no dreaming. These waves are better for trying to sleep. If used in meditation music, it will be interspersed with theta frequencies.
Since binaural beats can produce these similar tones they are used as potential tools to help us rest, relax, relieve stress, and focus. Especially with the theta and delta waves. To be clear the science behind binaural beats is not solid and still being researched. One must be careful not to believe any outlandish medical claims, but many researchers will agree that they can have very positive effects. Except for seizure warnings for epileptics, binaural beats for meditation will not present any harm. For the most part they will only enhance your meditation with music.
To be clear scientists know that entrainment of the brain does work, your brain can copy the frequencies. They just don’t know how the process works or even where the auditory illusion is occurring. So when we say we aren’t exactly sure how a binaural meditation can help, it’s not as a negative just the reality of where the science is.
As far as adding these meditation beats, there are a few ways to do it. First there are plenty of places online that offer ready-made binaural beats, otherwise you can download software to make them yourself. If you have decided to attempt the ambient music, why not take the time to learn how to make some auditory illusions! The software is not that complicated and takes care of a lot of it for you. If you are aiming for meditation music than you will want to stick to the 2-7 Hz range of theta and delta waves. This is the frequency most likely to relax your brain and put you into a state of deep concentration and maybe even sleep.
So far, we have ambient music, natural sounds, and binaural beats that can go in our track. And there is still even more you can add to your so far binaural meditation, and it’s as simple as noise!
Colors of Noise
In many binaural beat generators you can include various colors of noise. Just as light has different colors on the spectrum so does noise. When making binaural beats for meditation the software will also allow us to add in a few different kinds of colored noise. White noise is a sound that has an equal intensity as per the frequency interval. Which might be a little confusing. Not only does white noise have a specific sound it also creates this image here.
Even more confusing is the definition for pink noise, which is inversely proportional to the signal frequency. It’s not so important to understand the definitions of these frequencies. Pink noise happens to be the most common signal used in lifeforms and biological systems.
Brown noise is where the power density decreases as the frequency increases. If you play examples of each of these noise colors you will see they aren’t that distinct, unless you hear them compared to one another. If someone just played some noise it might be hard to discern which it is.
There are a few more noise colors out there but these three are the most common you will find in meditation music. There is no exact science as to which color has what effect. It is all about what helps you relax. If any noise like this is bothersome, then by all means keep it out of your meditation music. If you happen to enjoy the science of acoustics and would like to know a little more about the colors of noise it is a great topic to get lost in.
440 Hz or 432 Hz?
Under standard pitch the A note above middle C is tuned to 440 Hz. While this is currently the standard people have used different pitches as standard in the past, or just when they felt like it. Somehow in the online and social media world a conspiracy has popped up saying the true cosmic standard pitch is 432 Hz (commonly used in classical music). The reality is that it doesn’t matter. Our ears do not necessarily discern specific pitches what we pick up is the intervals. So it doesn’t matter what the standard tuning pitch is, because all the intervals we here will sound the same. We can prove this quickly by looking at our musical scales in different keys. All the intervals sound the same regardless of key, this is easily shown with a keyboard.
Also when discussing binaural beats for meditation above we learned the same fact, that our ears don’t hear the exact pitches but the difference in them. If you want to have your meditation music tuned to A440 or A432, it will not matter. Unless you are playing or recording with someone using another standard (then the music will likely sound dissonant and terrible!). The entire point of 440 or 432 is kind of silly and sold as healing medicines or vast conspiracies to those that don’t understand music and frequencies!
There you have the basic concepts of meditation music. It is ok to use all of these or just one at a time. Experiment and see if plain meditations with music have the same relaxing effect as your binaural beabts meditations. If you have zero interest in making your own tracks, no problem there are plenty companies that will sell it to you! If you really want to buy something nice you can get a mind machine. They are a little pricy, but they contain goggles and noise cancellingheadphones to give you the full experience. The audio aspect has binaural beats, ambient sound,a variety of noise, and plenty of meditation music. The visuals of the mind machine can be used at times when not meditating and just looking for a virtual mind altering effect.
If you cannot afford a mind machine, no problem, there are still a variety of companies out there to choose from. They make videos, apps, software, and some even have new meditations on a daily or weekly basis. If you just search meditation music or binaural beats formeditation you will find more info than you can possibly all look through. It’s a worthy topic to research some more and try out. If you found plain silent meditation doesn’t do the trick and you need some sort of brain distraction than try some different styles of meditation music. You will find with the right ones they will help you relax, recuperate, and rest better than you ever have!