What’s your favorite kind of music?

When we listen to music that we like, it feels relaxing. You may already know that, but did you know music also pairs well with mindfulness?

What is the relationship between mindfulness and music, and how does it help our overall mental wellbeing?

Music Therapy and Its Benefits

Music therapy effectively heals our mental state through music. Within this therapy, there are “active” and “passive” techniques.

  • Active Music Therapy
    Balances the mental state through participation in singing, music composition, and instrument playing
  • Passive Music Therapy
    Calms the mind through listening to music without any participation.

The active techniques seem to be the most popular among music therapists right now, as worldwide studies and research trends more towards the active method.

A woman practicing mindfulness while listening to music by the beach.
Image: Unsplash

However, actively singing and playing an instrument requires a commitment to self-expression. Some people may feel stressed to do so in front of others. Therefore, active music therapy can be a tall order for people who don’t feel comfortable expressing themselves.

On the other hand, the passive method is much easier since all you have to do is listen. Good news if you’re shy. It’s actually the passive music technique that pairs well with mindfulness meditation.

Man relaxing while listening to music from a boom box
Image: Unsplash

Music Makes Mindfulness Meditation Easier

Mindfulness meditation is about concentrating on the subtle sensories of the body to distance ourselves from negative thinking and stabilize the mind. The 3 most common ideas in the practice are to, “recognize,” “accept as is,” and “not get caught up.”

The same ideas can be applied to music therapy when the participant acknowledges their inner self, accepts their state as is, and frees themselves from conforming thoughts. When we listen to music, we immerse ourselves into the world of it unless someone presses the stop button. We recognize that we have the power to decide how we experience the music, and accept the sounds as they flow in.

Woman in black jacket holding a smartphone with headphones on
Image: Unsplash

Music, in fact, enhances the experience of mindfulness meditation. It helps focus on the breath while blocking out unwanted thoughts. This makes it easier to concentrate on the meditation, relax and off-shoulder some of the stress so that we can.

Among the many kinds of music, the best music for meditation is slow in tempo, lyricless, and contains nature sounds in the background. Fast-paced music and lyrics overstimulate brain activity which can be distracting. Try and find a calm piece of music that works for you.

Woman listening to the sounds around her with eyes closed
Image: Unsplash

Recommended Sounds for Mindfulness

What kind of specific music is useful for mindfulness meditation? With what we’ve mentioned in mind, here are 4 elements we recommend it has:

  • Calm sounds with no lyrics
  • Music that makes you feel relaxed
  • Contains refreshing nature sounds
  • Sounds and melodies that represent hope
A waterfall
Image: Unsplash

Music with these elements induces the alpha brain wave state, letting the body relax.

We especially recommend “healing” music that contains “pink noise,” as they contain the 4 elements listed above.

1. Healing Music

A woman calmly playing the flute
Image: Unsplash

Calm and beautiful sounds of classical music and jazz are considered part of healing music.

Healing music is said to have a sedative effect. Some medical institutions use this music to decrease the amount of anesthesia and burden for their patients. Schools also report that their student’s concentration increases when they play healing music.

Sounds that are healing work directly towards the brain and reduces stress hormones. Besides medical institutions, yoga studios, spas, and salons all play this music to create a relaxing space for clients.

Any type of music that is healing will surely help calm the mind towards mindfulness.

2. Music That Contains Pink Noise

meditation bowls that contain pink noise
Image: Unsplash

Pink noise (also known as the 1f noise) is a signal with a frequency spectrum similar to the rhythm of our heart, beath, and body temperature. Nature sounds such as raindrops and sizzling fire pits hold the same characteristic. Essentially, our body feels pink noise as most comfortable because it syncs with our biological rhythm.

Research by Japanese physicists also shows natural pink noise to be effective for relaxation. Music containing pink noise can assist mindfulness because it syncs with the biological rhythm of the body, properly adjusts the autonomic nerves, stabilizes the mind, and increases vitality.

The 1f fluctuation is also associated with the frequency of therapeutic touch.

Keep Your Mind Healthy With Music!

A happy man playing music
Image: Unsplash

Music is with us wherever we go.

Whether you’re the type that listens to a lot of music or not, you can still benefit from it. It releases us from fear and anxiety while it helps us relax and feel happier.

Kick back, relax, and listen to some music for your own mental wellbeing.

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If you’re looking for more tips on how to care for your mental health, check out some of our past blog posts!

Kuniyoshi, T., & Togawa, H. (2014). Passive Music Therapy and Its Significance: From A Mindfulness Perspective. Kobe College Graduate School Psychological Counseling Research15, 3–10. https://doi.org/10.18878/00005330

About the Author


As a writer, worked on many medical-related articles based on academic papers. Specializes in articles on mental health and stress care.

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