Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


Mindfulness of Music: Attending to the Vibration of Now

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

We live inside of sound in every moment of our lives. Sound orients, soothes, irritates, and grounds us. The ubiquity of sound explains why deafness can be such a devastating disability as it disconnects from the envelop of sound.

Over a billion songs have been sold on iTunes. Wouldn’t it be obvious to make music the target for mindfulness practice? Such was the insight of meditation teacher and friend Shinzen Young. Everyone loves to listen to music, so mindfulness practice could follow closely behind.

The Buddha was able to make his teaching on the dharma accessible to kings as well as criminals. He did this by tailoring his message, by seeking skillful means. He would use stories, metaphors, and whatever else might help connect the individual to the teaching.

Shinzen’s mindfulness of music follows the same principle. Every kid listens to music on an iPod. If they are doing that they can do mindfulness practice.

On a recent Saturday at my Meditation Studio, I led a Shinzen-inspired mindfulness of music retreat. I introduced everyone to Shinzen’s four foci for practice: relaxation, sound, feelings, and vanishings.

Relaxation points to music’s ability to dissolve tension. In fact, we might find our whole sense of being dissolving into bliss while listening to music. The second focus was on the sound of the music itself. Sound is one of the three major sources of “objective” experience we have along with seeing and feeling sensations in the body.

This practice reminded me of how I attend concerts, especially classical music concerts and chamber music. I spend a few moments looking at the ensemble and then I close my eyes. I then turn my attention to the music, immersing myself in the vibration of sound. And when attention wanders into the future, past, or commentary about this present, I gently return it to the unfolding of the music. This practice can elicit some powerful emotions and that is the third focus of Shinzen’s music system.

Focus on “feel” opens the field of feeling from dissolving into relaxation to whatever feelings arise while attending to the music: sadness, joy, anger. Vanishings, as the name implies, focus on the moments when the sound stops before it resumes again. Vanishing can be found in melodies, rhythms, and, of course, in silence.

You can try this practice on your own. Choose some music and give it your full attention. Keep returning your attention whenever it moves away. You can focus on how the music relaxes your body and how it makes you feel. Give yourself permission to fully enjoy the music, allowing it to be the only thing you are doing in that moment.

We don’t often give our attention to something in that way and attending to music can be a real treat.



  • http://Facebook.come Shukla Kar

    To talk about the impact of soothing music on our mind, I like to say that music is truly that power what could move our mind in many directions. Its melodious sound effects could take off the grief of our soul like a cool air blowing through the atmosphere. In classical music there are tunes truly creates a stage of meditation, which means total equilibrium state of mind! In meditation we reach this stage by total silence with our ultimate concentration of mind.

Previous Posts

Buddhist Icon--Thich Nhat Hanh Recovering in Hospital
Beloved Buddhist monk and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (TNH) has experienced a severe cerebral hemorrhage and remains in critical condition. He recently had his 88th Birthday. I surmise that he is, along with the Dalai, Lama, one of the two most readily recognized Buddhist figures in the world today. Af

posted 6:27:39am Nov. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Mindfulness with a Capital "M"
A recent Telegraph column asked if mindfulness lives up to its hype. The author, Polly Vernon, predicts that "mindfulness" will be the OED's (Oxford English Dictionary) word of the year. That would not surprise me. She goes on to give a favorable if at first skeptical review of the practice. Having

posted 12:19:27pm Nov. 04, 2014 | read full post »

Time to Wake Up: Reading Your Way to Awakening
We have been asleep, collectively and individually and there is a growing call to wake up. The Buddha was the first to suggest this change in consciousness 2500 years ago (and as you know the term buddha means one who has awakened). And now there are three books that have come to my attention with w

posted 11:05:45am Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Citizen of the Cosmos
I recently heard Ann Druyan interviewed on Radio Lab. She spoke of falling in love with Carl Sagan when they were working together on the Voyager mission in the late 70s, where she was in charge of developing the content that would be sent out into space for alien cultures to discover. It was a touc

posted 9:59:05am Oct. 14, 2014 | read full post »

The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Discovery
Polly Young-Eisendrath has a new book out, her fourteenth. This is a book like no other that I've ever read. It is a memoir and it recounts events that I lived through as dharma friends of Polly and the love of her life, Ed Epstein. The Present Heart is a statement on the nature of love. It defin

posted 8:41:37am Oct. 09, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.