Live Music May Be What Your Meditation Practice Is Missing


Image Source: MindTravel

Meditation may serve as a brief escape from the chaos of everyday life, but musician and meditation expert Murray Hidary can do you one better. Hidary is the mastermind behind MindTravel, a meditation platform that completely transports its participants through uniquely immersive experiences and live music. It’s a far cry from the zen monasteries Hidary used to visit growing up, but if you’re willing to try, you’ll see why people can’t get enough.

Hidary started playing piano when he was just 5 years old, later studying music in university. He was a teenager when he first discovered meditation, noticing how it tied into his passion for music. “The two started to speak to each other,” he tells POPSUGAR. “Music is incredibly powerful at navigating our emotional state. It is the language of emotion.”

To Hidary’s point, research shows that music, and live music specifically, has a way of maximizing emotional responses. While listening to recorded music may trigger similar emotional processes, live music has a stronger effect on the affective brain (the part responsible for our emotional responses). One study from the University of Zurich compared the difference between live music and recorded music using MRI technology. Results showed that live music ultimately led to higher and more consistent activity in the amygdala.

As Hidary explored this relationship further, he built MindTravel, playing live music and cultivating otherworldly surroundings to help others ground themselves, quiet anxious thoughts, and come to an emotional catharsis.

“People might try some kind of meditation, but so many people feel like they’re doing it wrong, or it’s not for them, or they’re not good at it,” Hidary explains. “What we found with MindTravel is that the music actually really helps keep people in the experience, so it’s a lot easier for people to have a very powerful meditation.”

Image Source: MindTravel

These meditations are far from typical. MindTravel offers immersive experiences in a variety of unforgettable settings, occasionally pushing you out of your comfort zone in the name of inner peace. “Each one’s a little different, but equally powerful,” Hidary says. “It’s about creating a very accessible experience and really an experience that brings together a sense of wonder.” The signature experience includes a guided spoken word meditation and 75 minutes of live piano, which Hidary improvises based on the energy of the moment.

Then there’s the underwater floating meditation, which takes place in a heated saltwater pool with underwater speakers. As participants float in the pool, Hidary leads an awareness-based meditation. “You have this true out-of-body experience because you almost don’t feel your body anymore,” Hidary explains. “You get to experience what pure consciousness, pure awareness is – without the constraints of the body, without gravity.”

If the pool isn’t your thing, there’s also walking meditations, which have taken place across the Brooklyn Bridge, in San Francisco, and even virtually, enabling people to join from any city.

Tying movement to the meditation makes it easier to stay present, Hidary says. “It’s not just about your meditation cushion or a comfortable spot at home, but about bringing this sense of presence into every day, no matter what you’re doing.” For especially visual types, there’s even a meditation set in a planetarium.

Image Source: MindTravel

Some of Hidary’s all-time favorite experiences include performing on the ice in Antarctica, surrounded by 200 penguins. “I’m playing there, and these penguins are looking at me,” he remembers. “You can’t believe how large this place is, and it’s overwhelming – overwhelming physically, emotionally, spiritually.”

Another bucket-list-worthy concert took place on a safari in the Serengeti. “I had an idea to do the world’s first piano concert in a hot air balloon,” Hidary says. “I played and transmitted the music live to 10 hot air balloons with 150 people total. And then we [were] flying.”

The novelty of these moments has a way of sticking with you. But for Hidary, the most impactful aspect is seeing how his music-based meditations help people heal. “You’ll have people at these MindTravel events where they’re having a very powerful emotional experience. They’re working through past difficulty, past trauma, difficult situations,” he says. It’s these reactions that encourage him to keep dreaming big.

“I just keep coming up with ideas that create fantasy and wonder, because the world around us is filled with wonder and magic if we just look,” he says. “Music just wraps it all together with this incredible bow.”

Chandler Plante is an assistant editor for POPSUGAR Health & Fitness. Previously, she worked as an editorial assistant for People magazine and contributed to Ladygunn, Millie, and Bustle Digital Group.

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