Meditative Sound

So I went to a GOLD workshop this afternoon on breathing and meditation, and the Buddhist woman leading the workshop told us that ‘all sound is meditative’ and played a really awesome recording of Tibetan singing bowls which blew my mind (the creation of the noise is as much a meditative exercise as listening to it). But she was saying, in the tradition of mindfulness, that someone laughing or talking loudly or cars beeping outside your window – all these sounds can be meditative.

Is poetic sound on the page, in our minds, wherever we feel it resonates, meditative? Is it more or less meditative if it makes sense, instead of simply being ‘nonsense’ language? I had never thought of poetry as particularly meditative, but neither had car horns struck me in such a manner before this exercise. What makes a sound more naturally meditative? It’s lethargy, it’s sweetness, it’s softness? If it calms our racing thoughts? Can a poem be meditative for one person, and not for another?

Is your poetry meditative – or do you know of any poetry that you would describe as meditative?  Is the creation of poetic sound as much of a meditative exercise as the ‘listening/reading’ the sound?

When I googled ‘Meditative Poetry’ I found a wiki article about Eastern and European traditions, in which meditative poetry ‘combines the religious practice of meditation with verse’. It is not, though it can be confused with, poetry written simply to relax someone or give them release. It does not, however, really seem to get at what would be considered meditative poetry (meditations written in verse?). It sites Edward Taylor (a Puritan minister, so forgive the funny speeelings [sp]) as a meditative poet – I have pasted a poem below. Feel free to respond to that poem, the difference between Western and Eastern meditative poetry, or any of the above mumbling.

What Love is this of thine, that Cannot bee
In thine Infinity, O Lord, Confinde,
Unless it in thy very Person see,
Infinity, and Finity Conjoyn’d?
What hath thy Godhead, as not satisfide
Marri’de our Manhood, making it its Bride?
Oh, Matchless Love! filling Heaven to the brim!
O’re running it: all running o’re beside
This World! Nay Overflowing Hell; wherein
For thine Elect, there rose a mighty Tide!
That there our Veans might through thy Person bleed,
To quench those flames, that else would on us feed.
Oh! that thy Love might overflow my Heart!
To fire the same with Love: for Love I would.
But oh! my streight’ned Breast! my Lifeless Sparke!
My Fireless Flame! What Chilly Love, and Cold?
In measure small! In Manner Chilly! See.
Lord blow the Coal: Thy Love Enflame in mee.

One Reply to “Meditative Sound”

  1. Meghan,

    After reading through this blog post a few times, I felt like I needed to meditate on the meaning of meditative! A word I feel like I use pretty often, one I always assumed I really understood the meaning of, I found myself really thinking about when considering poetry and sound. Because in one sense, I think words that make sense are incredibly meditative in that they can help you express thought. So maybe words, in this way, are more a means of expressing meditation, where as sound, meaningless, is more a means of getting to that meditation. For example, when I am trying to be thoughtful and meditative, listening to an audiobook, or even songs with striking lyrics is not something that I find helpful. However, listening to “meaningless” noise (I need to find a better word than “meaningless,” because I certainly don’t think the quality of being void of words renders something meaningless) I find helps promote a meditative state of being or quality of thought. Lots to think about here, though–lots to meditate on (can I make this pun twice in one comment and get away with it?).


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