The Source |Meditation And Rap: How Spirituality Shapes Music – The Source Magazine

In the arts, especially music, spirituality is widely practiced among top record producers and musicians alike. Many music creatives quietly maintain a personal practice, which they believe can take them to a higher level of creativity. With the help of meditation, yoga, religion, and other forms of spirituality, some of our favorite artists have taken their art to another level, thus providing us with a distinctive listening experience.
What is “spirituality”? Spirituality can be defined as a naturally occurring phenomenon where a person seeks to connect with a higher power or purpose. Yoga, meditation, and Buddhism are all examples of spiritual practices that help practitioners become more focused and relaxed, allowing them to create art with a more natural flow. In a 2015 study titled Meditation: Process and effects (reprinted by NIH.gov), researchers found that meditation significantly helped to increase energy, relieve stress, and provide overall improvements in wellbeing. A personal spiritual practice can therefore benefit your mental and physical wellbeing, along with your creative craft.
Some of the most prominent music industry figures, including A-list producers and executives, are known to have a spiritual side. Famous American record producer Rick Rubin, for instance, has left his mark on a variety of genres including rap, rock, comedy, Native American and Indian music, to name a few.
As he recounted in a 2014 Rolling Stone article titled Rick Rubin on a Lifetime of Meditation and MusicRubin’s journey began as an adolescent, when he needed to see a doctor for his neck pain. Rubin’s doctor informed him that the pains he was experiencing were the result of stress and advised him to try meditation. Being a fan of the Beatles, Rubin decided to try transcendental meditation [or “TM”, popularized by the Beatles after they visited the famous Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of India].
TM is a form of mantra-based meditation that aims to quiet the mind and promote a more peaceful state of consciousness through the repetitive chanting of a single word or phrase. Many famous entertainers, including Jim Carrey and Jerry Seinfeld, swear that the effects of their TM practice were an integral part of their success.
Rick Rubin’s hit-factory label Def Jam Recordings attracted several influential rappers who have shared their own history with spirituality. RZA, a member of the world-famous Wu Tang Clan, has been influenced by Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, and believed that having a spiritual sense would awaken one’s dormant creative abilities. Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Adam Yauch (of Beastie Boys fame), and LL Cool J are all examples of former and present Def Jam producers and artists who have incorporated spirituality into their lives.
Russell Simmons, who co-founded Def Jam with Rick Rubin, also happens to be a proponent of spirituality in the form of meditation and Buddhism. Russell’s homes and even one of his rock gardens are said to be decorated with Buddhist symbols and statues. Along with Buddhism, Simmons practices yoga and meditation and believes that true prosperity is achieved through a higher state of awareness.
Yoga, which involves concentration and awareness as a form of practice, is thought to have originated in India but has seen steady growth in the West. It is no surprise that Indian music samples have influenced the U.S. Billboards with songs such as “Big Pimpin’” by Jay Z, “Toxic” by Britney Spears, and “Don’t Phunk With My Heart” by The Black Eyed Peas, just to name a few. While yoga tends to be characterized by physical poses (asanas), in reality its practice heavily utilizes the mental aspects of meditation (dhyana) and includes breathing exercises (pranayama) and even a moral code of conduct (niyama).
ProYoga is a new directory that aims to connect musicians, producers, and creatives of all types to top yoga classes, yoga teacher training courses (YTTC), and yoga studio memberships all over the world. Whether you are looking for a way to connect with your higher powers to produce better music or just want to relieve mental stress after work, proYoga can help you find classes and studios in your local area.
The Source Magazine Staff Writer


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