A clear mind more important than listening to music

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A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby manas » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:28 pm

Hello all,

it has become apparent to me, in the course of trying to be 'mindful in everyday life', i.e. when doing even mundane tasks such as cooking, washing dishes etc, and even sometimes during sitting meditation, that the music often playing in the background of my awareness, like a soundtrack in my head, has got to go. I have tried so many other ways to cleanse it from my mind, but as an ex-musician who spent years training and developing his 'inner ear' to hear melody and harmony in his head, it has now become a burden to the point where, I think I just need to stop listening to music. I find that having 'earworms' hinders being really present with the body in the here-and-now, it kind of sucks or drags awareness in the direction of obsessive thoughts, and away from the body and it's current task.

I feel I am at an interesting time, a juncture where having a clear mind is becoming more important than allowing myself to listen to music. It will involve some sacrifice, but it's really not such a big deal; I'm a lay person and music is not forbidden in any way, so it's purely voluntary, and I can always 'go back' again. But it's like, music running in my head a lot of the time has become a burden, a real burden! So if by giving up the 'pleasure' of listening to it, I can get free from the burden (of 'earworms') then I voluntarily choose giving it up. In any case, I am giving this a 'trial run' and seeing if it works.

NB: there are some kinds of music, that are actually very soothing or calming, and don't seem to get 'stuck in my head' like faster, catchier music does. I might keep listening to such relaxing music, while abandoning the music that is the cause of the 'earworms' (virtually all of popular music, and much of Classical as well).

Metta :anjali:
Last edited by manas on Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:38 pm

Just be aware of what the mind is doing, it's just a thought process. It's only annoying because you think it shouldn't be happening.

Mindfulness needs to be applied equally to mental as well as bodily processes.

If you try to fight it you'll only make it worse, use it as an opportunity to develop mindfulness and equanimity.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:43 pm

Sounds like it should be an interesting experiment. Hopefully it will be relatively easy for you to do. When I lost all my music a couple of years ago, I never bothered to start buying it again and since then I really only listen to music when I'm with friends who are listening to it or occasionally I turn on the radio if I'm driving, but I've come to enjoy just being able to not hear music and relax with my mind and whatever natual sounds happen to be occurring wherever I'm at. Sometimes I think it's strange since I'm 22 years old and don't really care for music (although I enjoy good music if I so happen to be around it) but I think it helps me to keep my mind less noisy throughout the day than it otherwise would be. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck in clearing your mind and hope you can use that clarity to awaken in this very lifetime.

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby manas » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:46 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Just be aware of what the mind is doing, it's just a thought process. It's only annoying because you think it shouldn't be happening.

Mindfulness needs to be applied equally to mental as well as bodily processes.

If you try to fight it you'll only make it worse, use it as an opportunity to develop mindfulness and equanimity.


Hi Goofaholix,

I've tried mental means of getting rid of the music. Now I'm trying a physical one (i.e., physically secluding my ears from music, so that the current earworms can fade and cease, and new ones not arise). In any case I'm not fighting, I'm abandoning. But thank you for your reply.

EDIT: I agree with you, that we ought not to get into aversion about it. Actually I am not so irritated this time around. It's more like, I'm noticing the music in my head, and am realizing that it's cause and effect. I put the music in to the mind, it was my choice to turn the radio on. If I stop turning the radio on, in time, the music in my head will cease. But in the meantime, although I will continue to bring awareness back to non-distractedness when I notice it has wandered into the music, I'm not getting averse about it, I will just keep doing what needs to be done, until it finally fades and ceases. And will try not to create the causes for more to arise. That's all, really.

:anjali:
Last edited by manas on Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:52 pm

Rejoice in renunciation! The joy of a clear mind is far greater than the joy of sensual contact at any sense door.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby manas » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:54 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:Sounds like it should be an interesting experiment. Hopefully it will be relatively easy for you to do. When I lost all my music a couple of years ago, I never bothered to start buying it again and since then I really only listen to music when I'm with friends who are listening to it or occasionally I turn on the radio if I'm driving, but I've come to enjoy just being able to not hear music and relax with my mind and whatever natual sounds happen to be occurring wherever I'm at. Sometimes I think it's strange since I'm 22 years old and don't really care for music (although I enjoy good music if I so happen to be around it) but I think it helps me to keep my mind less noisy throughout the day than it otherwise would be. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck in clearing your mind and hope you can use that clarity to awaken in this very lifetime.

:anjali:


Thank you polar. I feel happy right now, happy that at last I know what I need to do, and am going to put it into practice. Isn't the Buddha Dhamma amazing? I'm feeling happy about giving something up! How is that? :D

I know from previous experience that, with no fresh input, the current earworms will fade and cease, and new ones will not arise, after a while. The difference is that this time I might end up sustaining this long-term. I will see how I feel as it progresses.

:namaste:
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby manas » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:58 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Rejoice in renunciation! The joy of a clear mind is far greater than the joy of sensual contact at any sense door.


Thank you! Yes for the first time, my giving something up doesn't feel like this gut-wrenching choice, but rather a natural progression that is arising out of noticing and 'tuning in' to the condition of this mind, more often than before, and desiring to improve it.

:anjali:
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby convivium » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:31 pm

isn't there music that clears your mind though?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby perkele » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:21 pm

convivium wrote:isn't there music that clears your mind though?

I don't know such a thing.
There's nice and soothing and calming music, for sure, yeah. But clearing the mind? No, it's putting something else in the mind, maybe drowning out something more stressful and annoying for some time. But as far as my experience goes that's not actually clearing the mind.
Listening attentively to whatever sounds there are, I think, can be very helpful for clearing the mind. And that might seem easier listening to something pleasurable. But it very much depends on circumstance. And it's quite possible and usual then that one gets excited with desire for more, hence the earworms, and so one does not actually listen attentively. Just as when one gets averse and caught up in that, then too, one will have annoying earworms, as far as I can tell. So it's not the music that is clearing the mind but just the quality of listening. Speaking for myself, I can get earworms from any kind of music.
So my claim is: Listening attentively to anything one will not have earworms, be it pleasent or unpleasent, or neither. And listening attentively is helpful for clearing the mind.
But maybe we can ask the Abhidhamma scholars to elaborate on that. :jumping:
No no, just kidding.
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:24 pm

manas wrote:EDIT: I agree with you, that we ought not to get into aversion about it. Actually I am not so irritated this time around. It's more like, I'm noticing the music in my head, and am realizing that it's cause and effect. I put the music in to the mind, it was my choice to turn the radio on. If I stop turning the radio on, in time, the music in my head will cease. But in the meantime, although I will continue to bring awareness back to non-distractedness when I notice it has wandered into the music, I'm not getting averse about it, I will just keep doing what needs to be done, until it finally fades and ceases. And will try not to create the causes for more to arise. That's all, really.


Yes you're right it is cause and affect and removing the cause should lead to the eventual demise of the affect.

However the minds function is to think and if it's not regurgitating music it will regurgitate thoughts about the past or future most likely.

Both will likely cause aversion, both can be used to develop insight.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby convivium » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:30 pm

it's nice to have silence, but noise is something in the head and nothing more. great music can pacify the noise in one's head, as it were (in my experience)
(it's zen mind beginners mind, not hitler's mind)
they don't seem talk much about beginner's mind at tassajara these days.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby daverupa » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:06 am

Fundamentally, music is kamaguna, is it not?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby convivium » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:13 am

what do you mean by fundamentally? i don't think there is anything fundamental, positively speaking, in buddhist metaphysics.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby daverupa » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:33 am

Well, okay then: music is kamaguna, is it not?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby convivium » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:09 am

what isn't kamaguna? why couldn't music be a catalyst for that? i don't think it's limited to inducing pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral sensations.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby manas » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:47 am

Could someone kindly define 'kamaguna' please? 'Kaama' refers to sensuality, but 'guna' means what exactly (in this context)?

:anjali:
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:04 am

kamaguna [kaamagu.na]: Strings of sensuality. The objects of the five physical senses: visible objects, sounds, aromas, flavors, and tactile sensations. Usually refers to sense experiences that, like the strings (guna) of a lute when plucked, give rise to pleasurable feelings (vedana).
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Kamaguna


And yes, the Buddha dhamma is amazing! I think that's awesome that you're stoked on relinquishing and renunciation. Sounds like you've got right effort and right resolve working well for you. Keep up the good work!

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:44 am

manas wrote:, I think I just need to stop listening to music. I find that having 'earworms' hinders being really present with the body in the here-and-now, it kind of sucks or drags awareness in the direction of obsessive thoughts, and away from the body and it's current task.
Earworms. Don't play the following unless you want to deal with a potentialy very annoying and persistent earworm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAbaqzk66Vc

On the other hand, if you are presently infected by an earworm, being annoyed by it, not wanting it, only feeds it, making it last longer. If you have an earworm, it does not need to "hinders being really present." It is what is "really present" at that moment, along with your annoyance. Just relax and lightly pay attention to it and your reaction to it, and don't worry about it staying or going away, and definitely don't worry about having to pay attention to it. Whatever is going on at any particular moment can be, if you simply learn to pay attention to it, a moment of Dhamma.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby convivium » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:01 am

Earworms. Don't play the following unless you want to deal with a potentialy very annoying and persistent earworm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAbaqzk66Vc
yeah, any (non-choral) music related to jesus is akusala in the extreme. :rofl:
edit: and even a lot of choral music
the more you meditate, do retreats, and practice sila the less earwormy music you will be able to listen to.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Postby manas » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:39 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:
kamaguna [kaamagu.na]: Strings of sensuality. The objects of the five physical senses: visible objects, sounds, aromas, flavors, and tactile sensations. Usually refers to sense experiences that, like the strings (guna) of a lute when plucked, give rise to pleasurable feelings (vedana).
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Kamaguna
Ah thank you, that's a good explanation and analogy.

polarbuddha101 wrote:And yes, the Buddha dhamma is amazing! I think that's awesome that you're stoked on relinquishing and renunciation. Sounds like you've got right effort and right resolve working well for you. Keep up the good work!

:anjali:


Thanks polar. As for being stoked on renunciation, I wish I could say that was continuous, but it isn't. My enthusiasm comes and goes. What I need to do is to sustain my resolutions, even when I have doubts or feel disheartened. Which can happen sometimes. But yeah, today I have no doubts about this issue. 'Sticky' music (music with the tendency to get stuck in the mind, to be repeated over and over) is a pain in the...a pain for the mind. And is best avoided completely.
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