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Meditation Music: What's Proven to Work?

Meditation Music: What's Proven to Work?

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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Many patients today are seeking natural solutions to stress, which are cheaper and side-effect-free unlike medication. Meditation can be done in the comfort of your home, and is proven to reduce stress levels over time.

In this article we’ll review whether specific types of music improve meditation practice based on medical research, as well as provide an overview of the research-backed benefits of meditation.

Does Meditation Work?

Popular culture often refers to meditation as a fringe practice that’s in opposition to medically-proven practices for reducing stress like medication. But it turns out that’s not true at all. Meditation is actually proven in several medical studies to have beneficial health outcomes.

Meditation has been shown to actually induce structural changes in the brain over time based on a medical review. People who meditate for many years tend to have increased grey matter in various parts of the brain. This material contains the highest density of neurons, so this research suggests that those who meditate may have improved cognition, emotion and self-awareness. 

Another medical trial found that meditation reduced anxiety levels in patients with generalized anxiety disorder, even when compared with a group receiving stress management education.

Mindfulness-based meditation even had beneficial effects on depression based on a medical review published in the American Family Physician journal, which found that these positive effects could last for up to 6 months after stopping the practice.

Does Music Enhance the Benefits of Meditation?

We recently published a sleep music review, and our investigation of medical literature uncovered that certain types of music were actually medically-proven to improve sleep quality.

Many health-conscious patients are curious if the same effects apply to meditation practice: can you achieve even greater cognitive and emotional benefits with specific types of music playing while you meditate?

The medical data doesn’t seem to indicate so. We can’t locate one single study suggesting that music enhances the benefits of meditation.

This makes sense when you think about it: most of the medical research on meditation involves a practice called “mindfulness meditation”, which involves consciously releasing your thoughts as they come, and trying to remain present in the moment. 

Mindfulness meditation is usually practiced in a quiet and peaceful setting, since any audio or visual distractions can make it more challenging to remain focused and consciously present. Thus it would seem logical that music would actually make this type of meditation less effective, and lead to fewer long-term health and cognitive benefits associated with this type of meditation.

Where to Access Meditation Music

We’d recommend using YouTube to find meditation music if you’re intent on using it to meditate. There’s no point in paying for expensive courses or any music that comes with a fee, since meditation music hasn’t proven to be effective. 

If you’re seeking meditation music, we recommend just finding freely available music on a platform like YouTube or Spotify that relaxes you. 

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Relaxing music has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve sleep, but we wouldn’t recommend using music during meditation. It hasn’t been studied to have any benefit over quiet mindfulness meditation, and likely makes the practice somewhat less effective.

That being said, any form of meditation is better than none at all, and if you find that you can’t meditate without peaceful music in the background, we fully support your decision to use it.

YouTube and Spotify make great resources for finding free meditation music that suits your needs.

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