The Showcase Magazine - Articles

Drift Into Stillness With a Meditative Playlist

by Erik R. Slagle

Meditators call it “the gap:” a place of stillness and mental silence. If the first thing that comes to mind is cross-legged gurus chanting “Om,” or a lone practitioner on a mountaintop, you’re not alone. (Although as Robert Pirsig, author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” says, “The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.”)

Bring your mind closer to the gap with music that can help lower your blood pressure and quiet the world around you in your home, car, office, or about anywhere else.

“Relax: A Liquid Mind Experience,” Liquid Mind. Liquid Mind – the musical nom de plume of composer Chuck Wild – brings together eight of the most intimate, relaxing tracks from Wild’s previous Liquid Mind productions. In the liner notes, Wild details his personal struggles with loss, anxiety and depression, and explains how he used music to achieve the healing that medication couldn’t bring him. It’s a fascinating insight into how music like this comes about, and it adds an interesting, relatable layer to a collection of music that will instantly calm you.

“Along the Shores of Acadia,” Tim Janis. Inspired by Maine’s Acadia National Park, this 14-track orchestral collection features some of Janis’s most enduring works. If you’ve never visited Acadia, let this album be your introduction: “Eagle Lake,” “Cranberry Islands,” and my personal favorite, “Mount Desert Island,” all pay homage to real places within the park itself. Tracks like “Abenaki” and “Shadow Spirit” celebrate the Native American presence that still permeates the Maine coast. Acadia National Park, and this album, are transformative for the spirit.

“Elements,” Ludovico Einaudi. Einaudi has put out more than 30 full-length releases since 1988, and 2015’s “Elements” is among his best. Several tracks pulse with a synthetic bassline that gives them peaceful, trance-like undertones. Einaudi, in fact, has said “Elements” explores themes of nature and growth, so listeners might take the pulse to be the “heartbeat” of the album. It’s a continued departure from his earlier (primarily piano-based) traditional works and features richer, more layered sounds.

“Weightless,” Marconi Union. In 2011 British ambient trio Marconi Union undertook a mind-bending effort to scientifically engineer the world’s most relaxing song. They identified tones and patterns that were proven to lower blood pressure and slow heart rates and worked those elements into an 8-minute track composed of piano, guitar, electronica, and Buddhist-like chants. The result, “Weightless,” landed the group on Time Magazine’s list of Inventors of the Year and a 2016 “Rolling Stone” article said listeners “can follow its movement and layers into a dreamlike state.” Whether the song actually puts you to sleep, you may want to refrain from operating heavy machinery while listening to it. One scientifically validated study reported 65%

of “Weightless” listeners experienced an anxiety reduction. Stream the full 42-minute, six-segment album and let it take you away.

“Dreamflight,” Herb Ernst. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Ernst transports listeners to a serene corner of the universe with his “Dreamflight” trilogy. Sensitive and ethereal, his electronic compositions are some of the most soothing you’ll find.