How to Meditate, Interview – April 16, 2010
HTM: Do you meditate?
Mike: Yes I do. I haven't been as faithful to my meditation practice in the last couple of weeks and as a result, my sleep has been light and restless. I've had a guest from out of town who just left this morning.I will be doing about an hour after this portion of the interview. OOOHHHMMM!
HTM: Sounds great. What form or method of meditation do you practice, and how did you first get involved on meditation?
Mike: I clear my mind and focus on a purple pastel color that I see behind my eyelids. (Painting the inside of my eyelids purple sucks up most of my meditation time...) But seriously, focusing away from distraction occupied more time when I first started. I actually created the Planets.mp3 track to help keep me "in state". It worked so well that I made other meditation soundtracks which I alternate between days/sessions. I put the best stuff on BlissfulSounds.com.
I guess the closest category would have to be Zen meditation but what I practice is a form I kinda came up with on my own. I started meditating regularly around 1992 while in Honolulu. I was working at night in a club near Pearl Harbor playing rock music. I would use the local bus system to get back and fourth from work and also to see the sights during the day. Between stops, I started practicing meditation. I guess the spiritual vibe in Hawaii was my catalyst.
HTM: You painted a vivid picture of your practicing meditation. Thank you. When you refer to "in state" it sounds to me like you have found a deeper space beyond distractions where you needn't struggle to maintain the clarity of a purer awareness. It does sound vet much like the no-mind of zen, and the single point of focus on this color was how you in essence "starved" the ego of it's otherwise mental pre-occupation and found this deeper space. Am I reading too much into this, or is this a semblance of what happened for you? Also, how does the music in particular play into this?
Mike: The key to producing the "music" for meditation is to avoid any sort of rhythmic pulse or spike in volume... nothing that fights with your mantra or creates distraction. The meditation soundtracks on BlissfulSounds.com are engineered to be a sort of random wash of sound... a man-made environment that draws on sounds and inspiration from nature and the universe.
HTM: Can you explain more about how specific choices musically would be disruptive to meditation, and also how know what these are?
Mike: Basically, any sounds, notes or sonic elements that "jump out" of the track. For instance, a sound that could potentially startle the listener because it is too loud. Tones that are dissonant are also undesirable. The track has to be calming and should not draw attention to itself. For some people, the type of music I do is used prior to but not during meditation. The meditation soundtracks I create are also beneficial to the meditation process when used in this way. They help calm the individual by creating a "winding down" period prior to a meditation session in a silent environment.
HTM: Is all of your music for meditation just the music alone or is it sometimes coupled with suggestions or guided meditation elements? I am also curious as to whether the music has a sense of progression (i.e. from energetic to more peaceful) or more consistent and steady with less of a beginning or end.
Mike: I've considered producing music that includes guided imagery and/or suggestions. I have not done so as of yet. That type of product would be more akin to hypnosis than meditation. The music I produce for BlissfulSounds.com is definitely consistent in nature. It's quite a challenge to produce music that is beautiful without drawing attention to itself.
HTM: Do you use your music for your own meditation practice? Also, do you find yourself in a meditative state when creating the music?
Mike: It's easy to enter a meditative state when composing music for meditation. In fact, it's almost impossible to avoid. (Not that I try to avoid it.) The state I enter is overwhelmingly tranquil yet focused. I lose all sense of time passing. I find myself firmly in the present moment... Although I have a definite idea of the general parameters of the production before-hand, the music is recorded as it comes to me.
The nature sounds are usually included in the final stages of production. (During which, I am not "in state" and making calculated production choices.) The music for meditation on BlissfulSounds.com is only available via download. Fortunately, the servers for my website are pretty fast so downloads go more quickly than you might expect for large files like these.
HTM: I have two more questions, however feel free to add anything here that you feel we haven't touched on and that might benefit readers. First, would you share a bit about the meditative state that you find yourself in when creating your music for meditation? Secondly, can you tell me how the music itself is packaged, as in by album or song, downloadable or not, how much and how one can pay for it, etc.?
Mike:Right now, WhaleSongs.mp3, OceanBliss.mp3 and Planets.mp3 are available separately for $10.95 each or all three are included in BlissfulBundle.mp3 for $21.90. Each mp3 plays for around 75 minutes. (BlissfulBundle.mp3 runs over 3 and a half hours.) I'd like to say that it has been an honor doing this interview with you Benjamin and I love your website. Be well my friend.
HTM: Thank you so much for participating. It's great to hear that you enjoyed the process. I enjoyed it very much as well, and learned a great deal.