Moving Musical Experiences and the Meditative State…

Some recent comments by friends and readers of this blog helped to inspire tonight’s post.

These comments were in response to one of my posts on the topic of meditation. Ash mentioned how easy it was for her to reach a meditative state when she was a teenager. In one of her comments she mentioned how she “could block it all out and just float right out of [her] head..”. Marilyn discussed how music (without lyrics) was a good source for meditation.

This really got me thinking back to some of my early memories and experiences involving music, and I wondered if some of these moments were me being in some kind of heightened meditative state.

I don’t recall ever leaving my body or experiencing anything truly supernatural, but growing up I remember sitting in my room with my Walkman listening to John Williams’ Jurassic Park soundtrack. I used to really be into film scores and John Williams is one of my biggest inspirations. I’d listen to one or two tracks over and over… sometimes probably for hours (I still do that… get addicted to one piece of music and can’t leave it). I remember many times being moved to tears by the feelings and emotions that are brought out by the music. I don’t think this was ever sadness, just me having a moment with the music.

There were other moments, like the times I would watch my mom with the choir from my church rehearsing or performing their Easter Cantatas from the sanctuary balcony. It was always the last scene that got me… always a big song with powerful orchestration and harmonies. The scene probably depicting Jesus’ resurrection. This, of course, led to me listening to the recordings of those cantatas over and over on my Walkman in the bedroom. Just sitting… listening… imagining things in my head… cue the tears. 🙂

When it comes to words or lyrics in music, honestly most of the time I don’t hear them. Many times I’ll sing along with the most random instrumental part deep in the background that most people don’t hear. So most of the time my emotional response just doesn’t have anything to do with the words or lyrics. This is sometimes hard for singers to understand. For so many people, the words ARE the music… and that’s hard for ME to understand… they just aren’t as important. As a vocal music teacher, I’m kind of in a category on my own I suppose. I often tell my students that you never know how someone will appreciate a piece of music or performance, or how a singer is experiencing it. It may not have anything to do with the words. Or… maybe I’m the only one.

So, I ask you this question… When we are having moving musical experiences, are these experiences just overactive emotions? Emotions are often connected with the Ego (sometimes thought of as our “false self”). Or, are our souls off spending time in some other spiritual realm without us consciously knowing it?

I leave you with the theme to Jurassic Park.


**UPDATE – A follow up to this post: Thoughts from Karla McLaren on Music & Emotion… a Follow Up…

About Patrick Keller

Patrick Keller is an educator, blogger, and the host of the Big Séance Podcast, which is a place for paranerds to have an open discussion on all things paranormal, but specifically topics like ghosts and hauntings, paranormal research, spirit communication, psychics and mediums, and life after death. He’s the founder of the now inactive Missouri Spirit Seekers and has spent a lot of time experimenting with spirit communication tools and techniques, such as EVP. Patrick also has a passion for spending hours at a time in cemeteries and loves cemetery photography. Visit! View all posts by Patrick Keller

9 responses to “Moving Musical Experiences and the Meditative State…

  • Ash

    Interesting post. I have a pretty healthy musical background as well – one thing I’ve found so amazing about music is it’s ability to completely affect masses of people… I suppose it even works on animals, as they say it “Soothes the savage beat” (and even that can be interpreted in many ways). The first concert I ever saw was Fuel, Oleander, and 3 Doors Down in a small venue in Poplar Bluff, MO. Oleander opened, then Fuel, and 3DD headlined. Fuel was such a good performance – a very real knack for taking the audience to high energy, back down to low energy, and then back up again. They were so good that after 3 Doors Down started playing the set was just kind of flat, and people actually started to leave. I’ve seen the Foo Fighters twice and they’re great at this, too and can even do it in a single song.

    Music is vibrational – as are you. It’s all just energy, and when the energy starts to vibrate at an equal pace as your own, you get lost in the moment… it’s a ‘merge’ of sorts.

    Have you ever been riding in the car on a sunny day and a certain song comes on and you just feel very… in the moment? I can remember being in the car with 3 of my friends on our way to a basketball game once, and a song came on the radio and you could just FEEL that everyone else in the car was also FEELING the moment.

    The ancient Egyptians understood this concept of sound and vibration. Did you know that the pyramids and many other structures from ancient egypt are harmonic? If you strike an egyptian obelisk at its end with a hammer, the entire thing sets off an audible vibration like a gigantic tuning fork (I highly suggest watching “The Pyramid Code” if you have Netflix, along with Mysteries of the Sphinx).

  • Patrick

    After posting this today I thought about a book that is on my “to read” shelf. It has been there a while but I’ll get to it someday. It is “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain” by Oliver Sacks. A colleague of mine suggested this to me.

  • Patrick

    I have such smart readers! 🙂 I’ve definitely had the vibrational (turns out that’s not a word) “feel” many times. In my choirs at school we call those “angel moments”! 🙂 I don’t experience them as much as I used to. As I get older I listen to music in the car less and less… it’s usually talk or pod casts. Makes me wonder if I need to go back to more music to and from work. I’ve not heard of “The Pyramid Code”… I’ll have to check it out! I know Marilyn would like this as well!

  • LKNK

    I remember my son when he was at the Phantom of the Opera. I thought that he was sleeping because he was heavy breathing but it turns out that he was in a deep musical “vibrational” trance:)

  • Maria Laing

    Hello to Patrick and Ash! Thanks so much for your responses to my posts about O’Fallon. Regarding the post about music, I have recently asked some similar questions. Since I have been trained in Gregorian chant (Precious Blood Sisters in O’Fallon, again!) I was curious about the chanting the Tibetan monks do, and whether or not chants, Gregorian or otherwise, promote certain brain waves, alpha states, etc.? I recall certain chants in Holy week called Tenebrae, that were very conducive to “altered states” of conciousness. I would venture to guess that during those times there was not much ego functioning….the words were Latin, which I understood, since I had 5 years of Latin, but it was the tone, the music ittself that I remember lifting me to a different level. I found some of the music of Tenebrae on You Tube recently and really enjoyed it. Last week I had an experience I think is worth sharing. A late night run to the store held a nice surprise for me. After leaving the store I got into my car. I don’t regularly listen to the radio.I enjoy the quiet time when I’m driving. For some reason the radio was on and tuned to NPR. The announcement came on that the next piece was Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor….I literally gasped as that piece had been so important to me a few years ago when I listened to it over and over and over again, much like you describe, Patrick.
    I didn’t leave the parking lot until the piece was over; I was mesmerized by it. I have found it on You Tube since. I think the vibrational tone, the rhythm, every note and it’s relationship to the next note, no words. I wrote in my journal after listening to it “deep, deep senses pulsing with every heartbeat, expanding, moving, more rhythmic than my own breath, deeper,exquistely, totally….I LIVE in this.” And that is it…I really felt ALIVE in it, in the moment. Maybe what you, Patrick, an “angel moment”! I have heard it said that some music can “transport” us outside of ourselves…but maybe what it really has the power to do is to transport us INTO ourselves!!

    • Patrick

      @Maria, as I’ve told Ash… You are welcome to stop by every day and comment on my blog! 🙂 Your words are so profound and sincere.

      @Maria & Ash, I contacted an author regarding this post and our conversation. I heard back… and if I can get it all together before the Oscars tonight, I think I’ll make it today’s post.

  • Ash

    Haha talk about synchronicity 🙂 This post has very good timing – I just pinned this to my spirituality board on Pinterest a few days ago:

    “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” And that’s truly how I feel about music.
    The link:

    Dance can take it one step further – you know how tribal peoples would dance themselves into altered states of consciousness?

    @Maria – I took a clairvoyance class about a month ago where we did some chanting as part of the class. I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s purpose was, I’m sure she gave me a handout… I should go dig it out.

    I’ve read in many a meditation guide that typically a mantra chant is used during meditation to clear the mind – one is supposed to chant their mantra any time a thought enters the mind, in order to drive it out and keep the mind still. Eventually, you associate the mantra chant with the altered state of consciousness and can use the mantra to reach that state instantly in any environment.

    @Patrick – Slade has a blog post about certain chants and how they can be used to clear the Chakras.

  • LeeAllenHoward

    I often have spiritual experiences while listening to music. In fact, I seek music that will allow me to connect in this way to higher vibrations. I also used to this it was simply emotion; but now I believe that music puts me in a vibratory state in tune with a higher realm that communicates through the emotional energy body. When their presence draws near, I can sense them. My reaction to this energetic interfacing is usually trembling and tears. And it often leads to channeling.

    The prophet Elisha was asked to prophesy to some leaders. He didn’t care for them and didn’t want to, but he said, “‘Bring me a musician.’ Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him” and he prophesied (2 Kings 3:15).

    I am constantly searching for music that will put me in this state. Currently, it’s hymns performed by Fernando Ortega. And 2nd Chapter of Acts, a trio. “In the Garden” by Watermark makes a mess of me, and so does “Go LIght Your World by Chris Rice:

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