Meditation is powerful. It calms the mind, reduces stress and anxiety and study after study indicates that its benefits are undeniable. Though traditionally, all you need to meditate is a quiet comfortable spot, today there are many tools that can support a modern zen seeker. Meditating with headphones is one such tool that can help improve your practice.
If you’re wondering if its ok to meditate with headphones, we believe the answer is YES. Meditating with Headphones gives you options. It can help you turn the outer world off so you can go deeper into your inner one. It can help walk you peacefully through a guided meditation or simply help you create a quiet, sacred space in a non-stop, and noisy world.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through the benefits and types of meditations that work best with headphones, including our favorites youtube picks. What to look for when buying headphones and share our top three recommendations of which headphones to buy.
No Time To Read The Entire Review?
Here’s a quick look at our top 3 picks of the best headphones to wear for meditation…
1. QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling Bose – #1 Overall Pick For Sound, Comfort and Price
2. TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones – Best Budget Pick for under $100
3. Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-cancelling Headphones – Best In-Ear Noise-cancelling Headphones
Benefits Of Meditating With Headphones
There are often three main reasons that people struggle with meditation. The first is internal mind chatter, also known as “the monkey mind”, the second sitting still comfortably and finally third, external noise and distractions. Wearing headphones, can help with all three.
Blocks Environmental Noise
Whether you prefer to meditate in silence or not, putting on a pair of noise cancelling headphones helps to block out the external world. This is especially helpful if you live in a busy area, want to meditate at work or while travelling. Putting on the headphones is like creating your own special place. Away from anything that might block you from attaining total inner-peace.
Enhances Guided Meditations
If you enjoy guided meditations, chants or relaxing meditation music, then wearing headphones can be transformative. Allowing you to be completely and utterly, focused on you and your guided journey.
Ensures Binaural Beats Are Effective
If you’re curious about a modern guided meditation style, then Binaural Beats are worth a try. Binaural beats are a special kind of music that is designed to help meditators achieve a deep and relaxed state as quickly as possible.
They work by playing two slightly different frequencies of sound into each ear. Which when listened to, help your left brain and right brain sync up with to the frequency pattern. (1) Once your brain waves match the pattern, you’re able to quickly transition into your meditation.
It’s important to note that because of the way they are designed, binaural beats only work if you wear headphones. This is due to the fact that different sounds are played in the left and right ears.
The Best Headphones For Meditation
When wearing head phones for your meditation practice, you’re going to want 3 key things: A pair that effectively block out background environmental noise, great quality sound and of course they have to be comfortable.
Bose QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling headphones will help with all three. Putting on these headphones is like clearing away all the clutter and distractions that keep you feeling calm and relaxed. Allowing you to focus on what matters most, you and your journey into inner peace. They also have the outstanding sound quality, that you would expect from an industry leader. It’s balanced, clear and able to retain sound quality across all modes.
We love that it gives you the ability to adjust the level of noise cancelling with three different settings. So no matter where you want to meditate, at home, while traveling or even at work, you can adjust accordingly. It comes with a rechargeable battery with a battery life that lasts up to 20 hours in wireless mode, and up to 40 using the wired mode.
No matter how noisy your world gets you can count on these headphones to create a quiet place for your meditation practice. Though not as good as Bose, TaoTronics delivers on both comfort and sound quality for a fraction of the cost.
Lightweight and designed to be extra portable they fit easily into a bag and are the perfect option for travel. Battery life is up to 30 hours for bluetooth, and boasts a fast recharge time. Overall a solid pair of headphones at an affordable price.
If you find over-ear headphones to clunky or heavy then this option from Bose is ideal for your practice. They have a wireless feature, come with 3 pairs of Stay Hear+ tips (S,M&L). The tips are designed with small wings that provide a gentle seal you don’t have to worry about them falling out and jarring you out of a deep relaxed state. One tester found them so comfortable that they now sleep with them in.
Another feature we love, is the built in rechargeable battery. With a life of about 16 hours, it’s more than enough to meditate anywhere you want, including wirelessly on plane if need be. Are these worth it? In our humble opinion the answer is yes. While pricey, you really won’t find a better set of headphones for sound, comfort and quality in the in-ear category.
7 Different Types Meditations For Headphones
Many people from beginners to more experienced meditators want to know if they are doing everything they can to get the most out of their practice. For some its about learning how to meditate in total silence or a desire to continuously expand the length of time they are able to comfortably sit in practice. For others it’s more simple and they just want to be able to easily start and maintain their practice.
Whatever your goals are, there are many different types of meditation practices that are compatible with headphones. A few of our favourite types to use while wearing headphones are:
1. Loving-kindness (Metta) Meditation
Loving kindness meditation also known as Metta is a form of meditation taught by the Buddha (2). Practicing this type of meditation is all about opening up the heart, sending out kindness and cultivating the four qualities of love: friendliness (Metta), compassion (Karuna), appreciative joy (Mudita), and equanimity (Upekkha) for ourselves and others.
When you wear your headphones with a Metta guided meditation you able to block out the world, and fully focus on sending out and receiving feelings of loving kindness.
2. Body Scan Meditation
A guided body scan meditation, also known as progressive meditation is ideal for anyone who struggles to calm their mind. It allows you to shift your focus from a busy mind and tune in to your body instead. In this practice you are guided to slowly releasing any tension and allow your body to gently relax one step at a time.
3. Guided Mindfulness Meditation
This is one of the easiest and most popular forms of meditation, it is easy to learn and beginner friendly. Essentially mindfulness is about awareness and being present. You don’t have to clear your mind and think of nothing, you can observe the moment, how your body feels and the thoughts you are having and just be.
Simply put, you’re just noticing. You aren’t trying to get anywhere. You’re not trying to do anything. It’s form a meditation that encourages you to practice non-judgemental awareness.
Mindfulness can be anything that you want to bring awareness and presence to and can be practiced in several ways. Including, walking, breathing, eating or anything that is body or senses related.
Recommend Tool: Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 1: A Complete Guided Mindfulness Meditation Program
This program is the first in the series from the “Father of Mindfulness” Jon Kabat-Zinn and contains four 40-minute guided mindfulness meditation. This ground breaking program has been used in the Mindfulness Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (3). Currently, there are numerous research studies to support the effectiveness of this program for stress reduction (4), improvement in health, and increasing cognitive function in the brain.
4. Walking Meditation
Walking meditation is a style based on the principles of mindfulness. Making it simple to learn, easy to practice, and good for beginners or anyone who has trouble sitting still. With regular use, it can give you a feeling of a deep connection to the world. Helping you move more peacefully through the ups and downs of your day.
To practice a walking meditation wearing headphones you can use either a guided meditation or simply put on deeply relaxing music.
5. Binaural Beats Meditation
If you would like to experience a short cut to a deep meditative state, then meditating with headphones and binaural beats is a must try. Besides getting you quickly into a blissful state, the benefits are many including:
- A feeling of reduced anxiety
- Increase in focus and concentration
- Lower stress levels
- Increased feeling of relaxation
- Promotion of positive moods (5), feeling more inspired and creative
Don’t forget, as already mentioned Binaural Beats only work when you wear headphones. We, highly recommend using noise cancelling one like these ones, available on Amazon click here to check the price.
6. Meditation With Relaxing Music
Meditating with music can also be a powerful and enlightening experience. Many people don’t realize that music can also influence a calm mind and body, especially when combined with meditation. To get the most from your experience use with headphones and choose music that is slow and hypnotic.
The benefits of meditating with music include: a reduction of stress and anxiety, boosted immune system function, and a reduction of annoying “mind chatter”. As well as whole host of others. We go into detail of all the benefits of meditating with music on another article, to read it click >> Why You Should Meditate With Music.
7. Traditional Meditation
By traditional, we are referring to silent meditation. Do you find that external noises are a constant distraction to your practice? If the answer is yes, then noise cancelling headphones are perfect for blocking out external noises and allowing you to meditate in blissful silence.
How To Choose Headphones for Meditation
1. Consider Headphones With Noise Cancelling Technology
When trying to get into deeply relaxed meditative state, even the slightest sounds can distract the mind. One way to avoid this is to wear a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
Here’s why: Its a myth that wearing just ole’ any type of headphones (like the ones that came with your phone) are going to block out background noise. While its true they might mask some of the noise, you usually have to turn the volume way up to drown out most of the sounds.
Noise cancelling is especially helpful for blocking background sounds. In fact, many people put their headphones on just to create a silent space for themselves.
And if you prefer to listen to relaxing meditation music, binaural beats or a guided meditation? You don’t have to turn it way up you can listen at level most comfortable for you.
How it works: Headphones with Active Noise cancelling technologies, (like the three we’ve recommend in this article), have small microphones that pick up on outside noise, then the tech produces noise in the opposite frequency, which then cancels out the outside sound.
Does it block out everything? Well not entirely, but more than does the job for most people and certainly more than those without the noise cancelling feature.
2. Sound Quality
Sound quality is a personal preference and can vary from person to person. So for that reason it can be difficult to gage for others. Ideally look for headphones that sound crisp, clear and balanced. A general rule of thumb is the larger the driver, the better the sound, especially if you enjoy deep bassy sounds.
3. Comfort and Weight
If you’re using your headphones for meditation then you are going to be wearing for a while, which is why comfort is an absolute must!
For over-ear headphones, look for soft padding made of comfortable materials, larger ear cups and consider the over all weight. If you want to buy over ear headphones but have never worn them before then keep in mind that the weight and feel might take some getting used to.
In-ear headphones or ear buds are great option if you prefer something compact, portable and lightweight. If you’re choosing in-ear headphones, then make sure they come with different sized ear tips, and something that helps them stay in place like the little flaps in the Bose ones we’ve recommended available on Amazon > here.
After all, you don’t want them falling out and completely ruining your meditation.
I know that many people prefer to use wired, but wireless will give you options. Providing a more convenient way to meditate while travelling, at work or even in a meditation space in your home, without being plugged in.
When choosing wireless go for a model that includes a rechargeable battery. One word of caution though, make sure your battery is fully charged if you’re on the go or you’ll start hearing a distracting beeping sounds, if it starts to run low.
5. Your Lifestyle
Before buying your headphones its a good idea to take a moment to consider about other ways you will be using them…Will you be using your headphones while travelling, at the gym or for blocking out the background noise at your workplace? Will you be using your headphones for listening to podcasts or music on your daily commute?
Perhaps you might decide that you prefer the over ear style for home and office use and wearing the in ear style for commuting and travel. Whatever you chose remember that your headphones are a personal preference and can be as versatile as you are.
At the end of the day…
Keeping up up a regular meditation practice can go along way in managing your stress and improving the quality of your life. Everyone has different priorities and preferences for their comfort and sounds during their practice. But one thing is clear – consistency is key. That, and (well, ok maybe 2 things are clear) being able to deeply immerse yourself into your meditation. Headphones can help with both.
If you feel like meditating with headphones can help you make your practice a regular habit and deepen your overall experience, then what why not give them a try? Namaste.
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