My more yogi-minded friends have been trying to get me to Zen out and meditate for years. I have doggedly resisted them just as much as I've avoided too many downward dogs (unless they are after a fast run or a ton of heart pumping cardio!). So when I was invited to Lululemon Meatpacking's night of music and meditation at Milk Studios, I was admittedly there more for the music and refreshments.
A preview of the film On Meditation, an evolving series of portrait films that explore the deeply personal practice of meditation, was featured. Hmmmm. And then Garth Stevenson began to play his music while we were all led through a profound meditation by famed yoga instructor Elena Brower. And that was what did it---I finally had my Zen moment! A legit transformational meditation experience.
This meditation thing might have some legs, I thought. But I never would have given it a chance without the music and the film project attached to the event. And I doubt I'm the only that feels this way. Meditation needed a makeover. Yes, it's ancient and spiritual which, of course, is part of the draw. But like all things, it's more powerful with a great soundtrack.
Meditation + Music: A Natural Pairing After All?
I never used to associate music with meditation. The few times I've tried to meditate, it was a silent, solitary experience and I found myself lulled into a nice peaceful nap. However, when I meditated at the screening event with Elena Brower I actually stayed awake and was able to get a glimpse of the power of meditation. A major reason that I felt more engaged was thanks to Garth Stevenson's music.
I spoke to Garth about how he got hooked into the yoga/meditation scene. He explained that about 5 years ago he was performing at the Wanderlust Festival in California with musician Sonya Kitchell. The co-founder of Wanderlust and Sonya's manager, Jeff Krasno, asked him to play at a yoga class led by Elena Brower and Christy Nones and he enjoyed the experience a lot: "It was like scoring a silent film". He reconnected with Elena when he returned to New York City and he's been performing in the yoga and meditation scene ever since.
I wanted to know what inspired his music that allowed me to have such a cool meditation experience that night. Garth explained that his music is inspired by nature and life experiences: "Visually and sonically nature is the perfect combination of order and disorder. I strive to achieve in my music. A leaf has a structured geometric pattern but when it falls to the ground its relationship to the other leaves is random and free. Waves also have an order to them but every time they hit the shore the sound is slightly different".
Garth's latest album Flying was inspired by a life changing trip to Antarctica. Although Garth has specific inspiration for his music, he admits that there is no real formula for meditation music but "the most important quality is spaciousness and allowing the music to breath". That way the listener will fill the spaces with their thoughts or by the sound of their breath. I definitely experienced that at Milk Studios a few weeks ago.
A Film About People Meditating? Why?
So why did Rebecca Dreyfus, the creator, director and one of the executive producers, decide to re-brand meditation and give it more mass market appeal? Rebecca Dreyfus explained that as a busy New Yorker, meditation has really helped her to bring her back to herself and find calm. She wanted to make the film On Meditation to discover other people's meditation practices and bring it to a wider audience so that more people could experience that benefits of it. She thinks that people are more interested in connecting to themselves these days and meditation is the most simple and direct way of accomplishing this goal.
I asked her how important music was in the meditation practice. Even though music is what allowed me to have a positive meditation experience, I was wondering if others found silent meditation more beneficial. Rebecca has done meditation practices when you just actually focus on the sound in the room. She believes that as far as music goes, "...anything that appeals to the senses beyond the intellect can help connect you to a higher place. You don't think music, you feel music; and it can be a signal to connect with something beyond your thoughts."
What I learned from Rebecca and Garth is that music can help you transcend, even in stillness and even when the music isn't your ultimate focus. So I guess I'm starting to drink some of the meditation kool-aid (or would it be green tea in this case?). I highly recommend exploring the beautiful world of meditation...and doing it with the help of music. For me, it was the music element of meditation that drew me in, but there are many other aspects of meditation worth exploring for peace of mind in a chaotic world. Even though I'm a cardio addict, I am starting to understand the value of resting my mind and giving my body "a different kind of workout" by not working out in my traditional ways. It may not burn calories but it will build your mind muscles. Learn more about the film On Meditation RIGHT HERE!
What's your take? Love it...hate it...wanna give meditation a try?
Everyone's different but I'd love to hear how you feel about meditation as a new workout. And whether you'd prefer it with music or without. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. THANKS!