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A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:28 pm
by manas
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:

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:38 pm
by Goofaholix
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.

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:43 pm
by Polar Bear
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:

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:46 pm
by manas
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:

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:52 pm
by LonesomeYogurt
Rejoice in renunciation! The joy of a clear mind is far greater than the joy of sensual contact at any sense door.

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:54 pm
by manas
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:

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:58 pm
by manas
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:

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:31 pm
by convivium
isn't there music that clears your mind though?

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:21 pm
by perkele
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.

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:24 pm
by Goofaholix
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.

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:30 pm
by convivium
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)
phpBB [video]
(it's zen mind beginners mind, not hitler's mind)
they don't seem talk much about beginner's mind at tassajara these days.

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:06 am
by daverupa
Fundamentally, music is kamaguna, is it not?

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:13 am
by convivium
what do you mean by fundamentally? i don't think there is anything fundamental, positively speaking, in buddhist metaphysics.

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:33 am
by daverupa
Well, okay then: music is kamaguna, is it not?

Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Posted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:09 am
by convivium
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.