Experimenting with Meditation
Meditation, with all of its physical and spiritual rewards, is a practice worth adopting. By looking for ways to improve your meditation sessions and learning about new methods, you can deepen your meditation and reap even more of its benefits. Although meditation has a definite practical aspect and is, to that extent, a serious practice, it can also be an opportunity for fun, enjoyment, and play. Experimenting with new meditative techniques can be a way to take advantage of this opportunity. If you try something in your meditation that doesn't end up working for you, nothing is lost. At worst, you have enriched your life by trying something new and have learned a little something about yourself in the process.
The Benefits of Meditating with Sound
One way to expand your practice of meditation is to incorporate an element of self-produced sound such as chanting or song. Often, meditation is assumed to be a silent practice, and this silence can help us clear our minds of the clutter of daily life. However, sound can also be a good addition to a meditation session, and the sound you produce yourself can help you meditate in a number of ways.
By humming, singing, or chanting while you meditate, you help yourself focus on the moment, you help keep your mind from wandering. Additionally, creating sound while you meditate can help you train your breathing, growing your lung capacity and strength, so your breathing is more even and controlled and your meditations are deeper.
Chanting and Humming in Traditional Meditation
Historically, both religious and secular groups have used sound as an element of meditation. In some traditions, chanting is associated with meditative, prayerful states, and in some, chanting represents an activity which promotes union or communion with the divine. The well-known syllable "om" or "aum" is present in several traditions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, and often represents a totality or unity of body and spirit, which can be incorporated in meditations.
Sound in Non-Religious Meditation
If you do not practice a particular tradition of meditation and use it only as a relaxation or self-improvement technique, you may be hesitant to incorporate sounds from religious meditation into your own practice. Start experimenting with sound by humming in a low, sustained tone during your meditation. Strive to hold the note for as long as you can, but don't strain your lungs so much that the note wavers. Inhale slowly and repeat the process for the duration of your session.
When you have become comfortable with humming a single tone, humming a tune could be the next step. You could use a song that you already know and that relaxes you, or you could improvise and hum notes as they come to you. Either way, take care to make sure humming does not distract you from your practice; if it does, perhaps silent meditation is best for you.
Sound in Group Meditation
The presence of other people is another factor that may deter some people from incorporating sound into their meditations. The best approach to this situation is to bring up the use of sound in the whole group and experiment together. If this is inappropriate for your situation, consider adding in an extra session at home to try using sound. If you find that it helps your meditation, you could do more solo meditations or find a group that is more open to sound.
Whether or not you change your regular meditation practice, it doesn't hurt to give sound a try.