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Do any of you listen to music when you meditate or pray – with or without prayer beads? I usually require silence, but at the last Book Expo, I came across Allegro Media Group‘s booth, where some very nice people from NewSound Music were offering CDs of world music that has a spiritual bent. Once I explained the purpose of my blog, account manager Paxton Scott very nicely gave me a stack of CDs to review as potential prayer bead music.

Here is what they gave me – each link has a place where you can listen to samples

Buddha Chill: Soulfood

Global Rhythms Collection (multiple artists)

Peace of Mind (Steven Halpern)

Celestial Mozart (Gerald Jay Markoe)

Healing the Holy Land (Dean Evenson)

Sacred Blessings: Sacred Music Inspired by the Worlds Great Faiths (selected by Anthony Robbins)

I am happy to report that all the CDs they gave me were lovely, of not all were to my taste. Lilting piano melodies, driving (but not too driving) ethnic drums, soft strings and where there were vocals they were smooth and serene.

I tried praying my beads with one of these CDs playing in the background until I went thru the whole stack. Not every one was to my taste. Buddha Chill was my least favorite because I don’t connect with electronic music. Sacred Blessings gave me a bit of a shock because the first track was an intro by Tony Robbins, the self-motivational guru, and I just kept wondering what he was doing on this CD while I was trying to pray. The rest, though, was lovely, and I give Robbins, who I believe is a Mormon, credit for including the songs and prayers of many faith traditions.

My favorite CD was Celestial Mozart. For one thing, it had very few vocals, and those it did have did not distract me from my prayers because they were just syllables or in Latin, which I dont understand. I think it also helps that Markoe is a yoga teacher and intentionally arranged the music to be 28 to 60 beats per minute, which he identifies as “the best tempo range for deep relaxation.” Then there’s the fact that I just like Mozart – thank you Dr. Dietz and your music appreciation 101 I took at the University of Texas 25 years ago. Some things stick.

Praying with music in the background may not be the thing for me. It is hard enough for me to focus my energy on what I am doing and not start thinking about my grocery list or my workload or how badly I want to eat a chocolate donut. I tended to get lost in the music. But maybe I just need some practice. I’d be interested in hearing back from those of you who do listen to music while you use prayer beads. Do you have any tips for those of us who find it a challenge? What are some of your favorite things to listen to? How do you stay focused on the prayer and not the music? Or, do you focus on the music and let that become a prayer?

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