[first published on my blog on 6/25/2010]
When you begin your meditation practice, you experience meditation as one of your activities during the day. Somewhere along the line, a figure-ground reversal takes place, and you begin to experience all of the activities of the day as happening within meditation.- Shinzen Young
While many disciplines can support your singing, meditation is the one I find most valuable. This practice has been around for more than three millennia timeless wisdom indeed.
Meditation is a means of cultivating focus and concentration, useful for singing or any other pursuit. An intense, committed, long-term meditation practice leads to what Buddhists (and others) call an enlightened or liberated state.
Buddhism teaches that attachment to things we cannot control is the main source of human suffering. Craving for a specific desirable outcome (or aversion to an undesirable one) diminishes your ability to remain focused on what you're doing in the present moment. What this means for the singer is that concern over whether the high note is going to come out, whether the audition panel loves your voice, what the reviews will say about your performance, etc., all drain priceless energy and attention away from your singing and compromise the pleasure you take in the experience. Liberation from attachment, craving and aversion frees us to sing our best and enjoy the experience fully.
Meditation also leads to liberation from the illusion that one's self is a separate entity distinct from the rest of the universe. Understanding the unity of all things transforms what it means to perform. Perhaps you can recall a concert that was so immersive that it seemed to literally unify you with fellow performers and the audience, or moments when the music seemed to release effortlessly through you rather than being the result of any effort on your part. As your skill in meditation increases, so does the frequency of heightened experiences where you are able to merge with the music as well as everyone around you.
I described meditation as a means of cultivating focus and concentration. Among the most common objects used to focus the mind in meditation are breathing, posture, and mantras, all of which involve aspects of singing and are likely to improve your singing technique.vocal
The benefits of a regular meditation practice are far too numerous to discuss here. I encourage you to discover them for yourself. This blog may be about singing, but it would be misleading to describe my meditation practice as something I do to sing better. It's far more accurate to say that my singing practice is an integral part of my meditation practice.
I look forward to the figure-ground reversal Shinzen Young describes, is a fantastic introduction to meditation.The Science of Enlightenment Shinzen Young's audio lecture series