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INSIGHT TIMER PLAYLIST: Sound Contemplations

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INSIGHT TIMER PLAYLIST: Sound Contemplations

LINK TO THE FULL PLAYLIST ON INSIGHT TIMER

ANNOTATED GUIDE by CSC Staff
 
In the following recommended recordings, music is the object of concentration. Listeners are meant to focus their attention solely and directly on the sounds of the track itself.
 
Unquestionably, the fundamental obstacle to developing strength in contemplation is relentless distraction from internal chatter, daydreams, and/ or external sounds and movement. These distractors draw attention away from the chosen object of concentration, such as the breath. For millennia experienced instructors have verbally guided their students’ attention back to those chosen objects of concentration. An instructor’s voice itself can offer an alternative point of focus that helpfully draws practitioners’ attention away from distractors in their minds or environment. Simple soundscapes, whether musical or naturalistic, can similarly mute  more distracting background noise in a practitioner’s  external environment. As such, a majority of Insight Timer’s recordings feature some kind of ambient sound accompaniment. 
 
In this playlist, however, the music and sounds are the primary focus. In some, the artists have deliberately applied entrainment theory to their musical compositions, which means they use binaural sounds (different tones in each ear) to create the illusion of a beat at carefully calibrated frequencies. According to the theory, this method causes changes in brain wave frequencies and phase synchronization across various brain regions, thereby inducing states of active attention, deep rest, and so on. Some claims around this effect can be overly enthusiastic (“Get ALL the benefits of meditation instantly!” “Modern science can help you reach monk-like states in minutes!”), and while some studies have demonstrated entrainment, other more recent studies contend that this is more of a placebo effect. Still the following recommendations offer compelling tracks for active contemplation. Listeners will find that here, as with contemplative content generally, there is a wide range of rhetoric and objectives, from secular-scientific brain health to emotional well-being and spiritual awakening.
 
Perhaps more than any other  content on Insight Timer, these recordings depend on optimal audio reproduction. As such listeners will extract the best experience by wearing over-the-ear headphones or streaming tracks through a high-fidelity, surround sound speaker system. Two notes of caution: (1) epileptics should avoid binaural tracks and (2) while a high-quality car stereo can provide an excellent listening environment, entrainment tracks should not be played while driving as some are intended to induce relaxation and sleep. 

*Note that for ideal functionality, it is best to link to the recordings in this playlist via the Insight Timer app on your mobile device rather than through the Insight Timer website.
 

 
Daniel Schotsborg (Qualia+) / Anthony Logos
 
Daniel Schotsborg (aka Anthony Logos) crafts deeply complex soundscapes grounded in entrainment theory, using monaural and binaural tones and beats to help induce shifts in brain wave frequencies and subjective experience by means of them. His tracks are influenced by the ambient and trance genres of Electronic Dance Music, but they offer much more pace, richness, and engagement than standard aural background fodder. This music is designed to be at the foreground of concentration, serving as the focal object for contemplation itself. This track is the first in an 18-track playlist of his compositions.

 
Jonathan Adams / Sonic Yogi
 
Composer, sound theorist, and yoga spiritualist Jonathan Adams (aka Sonic Yogi) employs sound to recalibrate the natural vibrations of the body and mind in ways that are designed to reduce stress and induce relaxation and peace. Individual pieces like this one are musical and environmental sound baths. This one relies on Tibetan singing bowls and incorporates naturescapes, like running water and chirping crickets. No voice-over instructions are given; listeners are invited simply to sit back, listen, and relax. For a detailed introduction to his theory on the healing power of sound, with plenty of contemplative listening practice, check out Adams’s 12-day course, Release Stress Through Sound and Frequency

Sirenas (5:46) and Dark Tranquility (6:12)

MuOM | Ecstatic Voices
 
With so much music going digital, it’s easy to forget that the original instrument of aesthetic sound is the human voice itself. This overtone singing ensemble from Barcelona beautifully creates rich, intricate vocal harmonies that give the illusion of accompaniment. Ethereal, engaging, and haunting in the best way, these two tracks are from the ensemble’s album “Ecstatic Voices.”

Temple Breeze (2:05:00)
 
James Anthony Walker
 
Trained as a classical composer, James Anthony Walker founded and directed the Computer Music Studio at the University of Chicago where he shifted his focus away from ego-driven competition toward a vaster spiritual purpose and sense of sacred interconnection. These latter qualities define his ambient soundscapes, such as this 2-hour track. Offered in easily digestible segments, his fascinating 10-day course surveys the history of ambient music, which pervades throughout, both as background audio as well as individual compositions to be held at the forefront of contemplation. 

23. Dance (10:56)
 
Eliezer Yisroel
 
Framed within the context of King David’s dance before the ark of the covenant in the Old Testament, this brief, uplifting, and ultimately non-denominational guided contemplation affords the opportunity for any spiritually inclined modern person to get up, get down, and let loose to an earnest, driving, trance-infused house beat. Rather than offer choreography, the speaker encourages listeners to move freely and uninhibited, to let go of self-concern and insecurity and connect with a greater sense of the sacred. While the Sufi sect of Islam and Native American religions are best known for employing dance to transcend self-focus and cultivate a vaster sense of community and communion, this track demonstrates how dance can act as its own transcendent form, no matter how one identifies.

 

Related Content
CSC's Insight Timer webpage
CSC-curated Insight Timer Playlists