Music for meditation and stress relief doesn't have to be only soothing instrumentals or nature sounds, it can also embrace a breadth of genres - jazz, blues, ballads, lullabies, and songs with an orchestral bent. All can be found on In Stillness: Lullabies and Meditations for All Ages from singer, composer Heidi Siegell. These original songs have been intentionally crafted to reflect the realities of children and their families while also providing a path towards awareness and peace of mind. A wonderful way to wind-down at the end of the day!
Stress relief can take many forms. For me it almost always involves music. I tend to go to extremes when employing music for purposes of stress-relief.
On the other hand, I'm a big fan of pianist Glenn Gould. Almost everything he recorded is astoundingly beautiful and technically brilliant. He's well known for his interpretations of Bach but my favorite recording of his is Consort of Musicke. I've been known to play it on a loop as I drift off to sleep. Truly wondrous.
Beastie Boys incorporated meditative elements into their music while sustaining their singular funky style. From the classic 1994 album Ill Communication, the tracks "Shambala" and "Bodhisattva Vow" heavily feature the chanting of Tibetan monks. From 1992’s Check Your Head, the lyrical stream of consciousness shared in “Namaste” is a pure reflection of being mindful in the moment.
ZAYN’s meditative music video for "Stand Still" entrances the viewer into a calmer state with a kaleidoscopic vision of breathtaking nature scenes. The album Icarus Falls is available on CD or for stream/download on Freegal.
Finally, one of my personal favorites to listen to (LOUD!) when I’m stressed is the sweet healing sound of Barrington Levy’s “Vibes Is Right”. Check out the album Acousticalevy on CD or stream/download it on Freegal.
For me, nothing ruins a good massage or meditation session than listening to sound effects of rain, or the wind rushing through redwood trees or even frogs croaking. I need to listen to something a little different. I prefer to meditate or to receive a massage while listening to soundtracks, or to some soulful jazz music.
Here is a sampling of what I would prefer to listen to. Don’t wait for a session of meditation or a massage to try this playlist, this selection works well while lounging in a hammock, or sitting in your car at the beach.
For your viewing and listening pleasure a YouTube video of Duke Ellington performing Such Sweet Thunder, also the name of his album inspired by William Shakespeare.
Watching or listening to a favorite something is always a good thing and offers a certain comfort, but discovering something new can also be stress-relieving and uplifting. Here is a recent discovery that was a surprising balm to my election day stress. When I heard this piece by Gretchen Yanover in the car that day, I actually experienced the title: SUDDENLY I FELT JOY. You're welcome.
Who would have thought watching a dozen contestants baking could be so calming, entertaining, and enjoyable? Well it is with THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW. Surprisingly, it really is a delight to watch. I especially liked season 1 and 2 of these DVD releases.
Wonderful audio meditations are offered by the surprising duo of Deepak Chopra and Oprah.
Here is one of their 21-day meditations on manifesting your best life:
OPRAH & DEEPAK'S ENERGY ATTRACTION.
When I'm worried or stressed, the thing that helps me the most is laughing about it with a friend who's also stressed out. Just the other day, this anxiety-ridden friend told me that she watched Bringing Up Baby, and how she was laughing out loud. We hadn't seen that movie in ages, but it's one of my all-time favorites. She assured me it's as funny as ever, and I'm going to watch it again when I need a good laugh to take my mind off my worries.
Another old movie I like to watch to feel better is The Music Man, Aside from the great songs, it's really funny.
I don't use music to relieve stress or as a sleep aid, but if that's what you're looking for, there's a perfect classical cd for you - From Sleep by Max Richter. He calls it "a personal lullaby for a frenetic world" and his "manifesto for a slower pace of existence." It can be used for meditation, ambient background, or sleep. The goal is to relax, open the mind and disengage from the business of everyday life.
When I want to zone out into a peaceful place I put on recordings of the West African instrument called the kora. The kora is a harp like instrument. It often called a gourd harp because it uses a large calabash gourd as a resonating chamber. The cascading notes of the kora flow like water and I find the sound very soothing.
One of my favorite kora players is Toumani Diabate. He is a pioneer of the instrument, which was traditionally played in acoustic ensembles. He played it as a solo instrument on several releases and also brought it into electrified modern bands. Standout recordings include Songhai, New Ancient Strings, Toumani and Sidiki, as well as his collaborations with Ali Farka Toure: In the Heart of the Moon and Ali and Toumani. Other kora players to check out include Mamadou Diabate and Ablaye Cissoko.
The later work of the masterful filmmaker Terrence Malick, often makes me think of filmed poetry and has a quality that is conducive to meditation. Often in his films the untouched beauty of nature is contrasted with whatever human drama is going on in the film. Some of his work forgoes traditional narrative to become an almost visual stream of consciousness.
Malick's Oscar nominated Tree of Life might be his most meditative work as it ruminates from childhood memories, present day adult then running to the beginning of life on the planet. The story itself is confusing and yet this film takes viewers to a meditative place with almost sublime imagery from cinematographer Emmanuel Lubeski.
A lesser work but still filled with profound beauty is Malick's later film, To The Wonder, about an American living in France with a woman and her child, moving them all to Texas and to new conflicts. It is available to stream on Kanopy.
Finally, for many people the subtle sounds of New Age music are helpful for meditation. Check out these Grammy winning New Age Albums to find a favorite for getting into the zone.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
In February 1968, The Beatles took a highly publicized meditation journey to India, where they reportedly wrote 48 songs, many of which appeared on this album that was released later that year.
Magical Mystery Tour0
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band0
The White Album0
Let It Be0
Last Week's Trivia Answer: Run-D.M.C.