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How do you meditate while playing a tongue drum?

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What is Meditation?

Meditation is a difficult practice to define because it is multifaceted. Each culture has developed its own system of meditation, often involving its own techniques, although some more or less approximate others.

Thus, there are at least 140 different meditative practices, ranging from Buddhism to Taoism to Christianity [1]. Each of these major schools of thought, in turn, has a whole range of techniques.

Chinese Zen meditation, for example, is divided into several techniques developed by Tao-hsin in the Lankavatara Dossier of Masters and Disciples or by Hung-jen in The Essentials of Spiritual Culture [2].

Alongside these ancient practices, more Western techniques developed that are less characterized by religiosity and attempt to omit the divine. Musical meditation is part of these developments, which can equally serve the believer who wants to approach the Word.


What is musical meditation?


Music meditation is a practice that is distinct from three other forms of listening [3]:

- entertainment listening,

- liturgical listening,

- aesthetic listening.

Entertainment listening is primarily festive listening. Aesthetic listening is a much deeper listening that places the actors - from the composer to the musicians - in an almost sacred role. Liturgical listening, on the other hand, accompanies the perception of a divine message.

Musical meditation is a fourth form of listening based on a contemplative approach to music. What does the tongue drum have to do with this search for spirituality, relaxation and inspiration? Well, quite simply, to make things easier.

Why use the tongue drum for meditation?

Because everything suggests that it could become for meditation what the saxophone has become for jazz: an indispensable and essential instrument for meditative practice.

In what way is it? By its ease of use, by the accuracy of its notes, by the fact that it requires neither tuning nor maintenance.

It enables the layman in meditation, the novice in musical practice, to be able to find rhythms and his rhythm and to enter more easily into deep meditation.

An author once said the following, "You may never have studied music, but if you pray and meditate in your soul, then within your prayers, within your meditation, by the grace of God, the power of music will spread."[4].

With the Tongue Drum you take control of the music, according to your wishes, your own harmonies.

The Tongue Drum will either pave the way to transcendental experiences or allow you to save God to extend the power of music within yourself.

For this reason, the Tongue Drum is a perfect fit for meditation: because it adapts to each player, just as meditation adapts to each meditator through its own technique.

So what do you do if you want to meditate but don't have a clear idea of the right technique to use? Where to start? What should you look for? Let's present some techniques to illuminate this path of contemplative upliftment.

Musical meditation: which rhythms, which techniques?

We will offer you here a plan that you can follow step by step to enjoy a successful meditation with the tongue drum. First, we will offer you instructions on how to enter into a deep meditation, and then tips on how to rhythmize your Tongue Drum according to your needs. 

How do I get into a deep meditation?

A successful meditation is based on an accumulation of techniques [5] :

- Affirmations,

- visualizations,

- prayers or the recitation of a mantra,

- the posture,

- the concentration,

- breathing.

Use affirmations to strengthen your focus on the object of your meditation. For example, you can say, "I will find inner peace."

Visualizations are images that you mentally project. The purpose of these images is to calm you.

Prayer or repeating a mantra is about reciting a verse, sura, or other part of a holy book over and over again until you focus only on it.

Posture is important in meditation. It is not said that the very classical cross-legged posture is the one that is best for you. Joint pain and discomfort in the back muscles accompany this position for many people.

So you need to find the position in which you feel most comfortable at the moment of meditation. If lying in bed or sitting on a chair is the position you like best at the moment, then take it!

Concentration is the essential element of meditation. The entire exercise revolves around it. You should concentrate on only one element and return to it again and again each time you lose concentration.

Concentration can be based on an image you imagine, a prayer or mantra you speak, or your breathing.

Breathing is the path to a deep meditative state. Start by breathing deeply and slowly for a minute or two. You will then enter a state of relaxation.

How can I use the tongue drum to meditate?

This is a question that deserves to be asked. How can you make music while controlling your breathing and concentration, visualizing an image or reciting a mantra? However, the brain is not designed to perform multiple activities simultaneously!

The Tongue Drum serves as a point of concentration during music meditation. At least in the beginning. Once you get used to playing it, it becomes an extension of your body - nothing more, nothing less.

You can then imagine images or recite mantras while you play. Then there is the question of playing tempo. Should you play the tongue drum in slow or fast rhythms?

The answer has been given by researchers at the University of Nevada in the USA [6]. They found that a fast rhythm can make you focus your concentration better.

Rousing music would lead to a more optimistic and positive outlook on life. A slow rhythm, on the other hand, helps you relax better, loosen your muscles and let go of stress.

The ease of use of the tongue drum will allow you to master these periods of relaxation very quickly and enter a state of relaxation faster and faster. The deep meditation will then fall into your arms.

What benefits can I expect from music meditation?

Music meditation using a Tongue Drum will first help you better control your stress. This better stress management will improve your overall health [7].

Meditation with the Tongue Drum as a musical support directly affects your psychobiology by inhibiting your endocrine system and thus the physiological response that is stress [8].

It is now known that music meditation has a positive effect on brain waves, so music is now considered a therapeutic way to treat motor paralysis or restore brain integrity in coma patients [9].


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[1] The Meditation Bible: the Definitive Guide to Meditations for Every Purpose, Madonna Gauding, Sterling Publishing Company, 2005.

[2] Traditions of Meditation in Chinese Buddhism, Kuroda Institute for the Study of Buddhism and Human Values, University of Hawaii Press editions, 1986, Seiten 139-140.

[3] Musikalische Meditation, wie man mit der schönsten Musik der Welt meditiert, Kurdjian, de Smedt, Dervy éditions, 2019.

[4] Meditation, Man-Perfection in God-Satisfaction, Sri Chinmoy, Aum Publications, 1989, Seite 105.

[5] Meditation: a practical guide, Mark Chatterton, Hadleigh Books editions, 2021, Seiten 22-26.

[6] Releasing stress through the power of music, Unisersity of Nevada, Reno.

Externer Link: https://www.unr.edu/counseling/virtual-relaxation-room/releasing-stress-through-the-power-of-music

[7] Meditation, The Ultimate Guide to Relaxation, Mindfulness, and Stress Relief, Athena Doros, Efalon Acies, 19. Oktober 2020, Kapitel 4.

[8] The effect of Music on the Human Stress Response, Thoma, La Marca u.a., Plos One, 05. August 2013.

Externer Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734071/

[9] The impact of music on the bioelectrical oscillations of the brain, Ducikiené, Praninskiene, Acta medica Lituanica, 2018, doi 10.6001/actamedica.v25i2.3763.

Externer Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130927/