Self, Health And Wellness

A Modern Meditative Playlist That Isn't Just Flutes And Wind Chimes

Photo: Mark Zamora on Unsplash
Modern Meditative Songs And Beats To Help You Meditate That Aren't Just Flutes And Wind Chimes

Scientists have been looking at how songs tempos influence mood and mindset. We can actually optimize the results of whatever activity we’re engaged in if we make the effort to match it to our biological rhythms.

Of course, average resting heart rates vary from individual to individual, but the general consensus among medical resources is that 60-100 beats per minute (BPM) is a healthy range, with athletes at the lower end of the spectrum and higher rates indicating potential cardiac issues. 

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Most of the music that accompanies guided meditations on popular apps like "Calm" or "Relax Melodies" fall in the 60 BPM range, which, based on the scale above, is on the lower side. Most likely, your resting heart rate is somewhere slightly above that (personally, my RHR is closer to the 80s), which could explain why the flute-and-wind-chime sounds don’t really do it for you when you’re trying to meditate.

In light of this, I compiled a few of my favorite ambient beats with a slightly higher-than-average rate of beats per minute. Sometimes I pair it with a guided meditation, but most often I just lie down with my eyes closed and try to get lost in the beat.

1. “Drift” by Ratatat

Clocking in at 77 BPM, the ambiance of this song has an instant calming effect on me. I turn this up when I feel myself getting really pensive, but I’m not in that headspace just yet. There are no surprises in this song — it’s just the optimal intro.

2. “The Rain” by Oh Wonder

FAIR WARNING: this song contains lyrics. When trying to meditate I usually avoid lyrics because I find them distracting, but the singer’s voice in this 75 BPM track is particularly calming (even in the chorus!), so I’m letting this one slide.

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3. “Location” by Khalid, Reproduced. By ADRO

This 80 BPM instrumental reproduction makes me feel like my mind is drifting across the smooth and slick surface of an electric guitar, not unlike the feeling of sliding down a really tall bouncy house slide.

4. “Honey” by Kehlani, Music Box Version

Some instrumental versions of songs neglect the melody of the lyrics, only delivering the music behind it, but NOT THIS ONE. The artist of this version of “Honey” literally recreates, with a music box, the would-be intonations of Kehlani’s voice. Incredible, even at 95 BPM.

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5. “Supreme” by Ratatat

Back to the 60 BPM range with this one. My favorite thing about it is actually the music video—it’s just as ambient as the track itself.

6. “I Am Real Punk” by Gold Panda

Like Ratatat, Gold Panda’s 83 BPM song provides a consistent beat, making it easier for your mind to fall into step and get lost.

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7. “Waiting 4 U” by Verzache ft. Swell

Acoustic vibes. Usually the strums of an acoustic guitar are too strong or sharp for me to feel calm listening to it, but this one just works for me. I don’t know why. But I’ll take it.

8. “Tropicana” by Ratatat

Though on the higher end of the BPM scale with 92 BPM, I think this is the perfect song to come out of a meditation to. It crescendos (gradually increases in loudness), easing you into the beat, and although the violin 10 seconds in comes a bit abruptly, it’s replaced by a calmer one literally 5 seconds later. Around the 25 second mark it gets noticeably upbeat, uplifting you with it, pumping you up to finish your meditation and start your day strong.

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Leah Scher is an ENFP finishing her degree at Brandeis University. She's an alumna of the Kenyon Review Young Writer's Workshop the Iowa Young Writers' Studio. She's passionate about Judaism, poetry, film, satire, astrology, spirituality, and sexual health. She draws inspiration for her writing from writer/director Wes Anderson, and for her lifestyle from her grandmother. Lastly, she's always actively seeking two things: a job having anything at all to do with publishing, and a chance to meet Jesse Eisenberg.