The Benefits of Mindfully Listening to Music

There are a ton of ways to listen to music, but when was the last time you really sat back and listened? It can be good for more than just your ears.
Image credit: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

If you’re like a a lot of people, you tend to listen to music as a background activity. I’ll be honest: I’m listening to music as I write this. It can help you focus and it’s a great way to drown on the background drone of an office environment or crowded public transportation.

That said, when you’re listening to music in the background, you’re not enjoying it to its full extend. Artists work for hours creating music, and then we’re barely aware of it. This is certainly not what they intended, but it’s less than ideal for us as well.

When Was the Last Time You Really Listened to Music?

It’s becoming less and less common for us to simply sit and listen to music. No browsing the web, no scrolling through Twitter, just the simple act of listening. How many times have you done this in the past few months? What about the past year.

As alien as it may seem at first if you’re not used to it, there’s a lot to enjoy about simply kicking back with an album or playlist. It doesn’t matter whether you’re listening via a record player and your stereo or your phone and a set of Bluetooth headphones.

Making a Deeper Connection

If you have a favorite artist, as many of us do, mindful listening is a great way to connect with their music on a deeper level. You can do this in a number of ways. The simplest is to just close your eyes and listen.

You can also read the lyrics as you listen, either via a lyric sheet or more likely online. Even if you know most of the word, reading along can help you better understand the meaning of the songs. This has less to do with mindfulness as the term is used with regard to meditation, but it can still help you appreciate the music more.

Enjoy Your Audio Gear

Did you pay money for good headphones or a nice sound system? If so, it could be going to waste if all you’re using it for is essentially glorified background noise. Really focusing on listening can help you enjoy not just the music, but how well your equipment is reproducing it.

Yes, you might have bought those expensive headphones for their noise-canceling features, but it turns out they’re pretty good at playing back music too. The same goes for your soundbar, which can double as a nice boombox if nothing else.

Health Benefits of Mindful Listening

“Mindfulness” is a term often used in and around discussion of meditation. If you’ve never tried meditating or think it isn’t for you, mindfully listening to music might be a perfect in-between or gateway drug of sorts. This can bring all sorts of benefits including less stress, reduced anxiety, and an easier time getting to sleep, among others.

To get started, you’ll want to turn off your phone or, if you’re using it to play music, at least put it in Do Not Disturb mode. Choose the music you want to hear. Many people prefer instrumental music, but it’s up to you. Now just close your eyes and listen. Try not to think of anything else, and just pay attention to the music.

Keep a Healthy Balance

I’m not advocating that you only mindfully listen to music. There’s a lot of music out there, and some of it—dance music, for example—isn’t meant for the listener to sit and listen to carefully.

As I mentioned at the top, plenty of people including myself love to listen to music while they work. If you’d like to give this a shot or just want to check out some new music, take a look at our list of awesome soundtracks to listen to while you work.

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