Music & Meditation: A New Way of Life for the Youth

Sahil Jagtiani embarked on his journey of music in high school, when he would write lyrics for his rock band and learn varied styles of lead and rhythm guitar. Music was his heart’s calling and he chose it as a career. It was only in college, when he turned to spirituality, that his music found a new definition.

Touring the world, and India, he has brought Sanskrit chants and devotional music to the youth in its most contemporary form, which was an instant hit with them. He is seen as the youth icon, transforming young lives through music and workshops that gives them a "clean" high, without alcohol or drugs.

In conversation with Sahil Jagtiani

When it comes to music and meditation, youth tend to believe that—first, you cannot meditate while listening to music, and second, you can be mindful only with relaxing music. Is this true?

The first statement isn’t true. Music helps to balance our chakras. There are seven chakras, or energy centres, in our body. Every chakra has a corresponding sound that activates it and leads us to meditation. When we are extremely low on energy, dance music (music that one can dance on) encourages the movement of prana (energy) upwards within the system, which gives us a "clean" high.

The second statement isn’t true either. Every individual is different. Each is in a different state of mind at a particular point in time. One will have to experiment with it and see what works for them. It is subjective to the situation, the person involved, and the state of the singer. In my opinion, there is no hard-and-fast rule for it. Also, it is not an intellectual exercise, it is an experience. You cannot be rigid that only a particular type of meditation will always work, as each person is in a different space. Different types of music appeal to different people. That is why we have to have an open-minded approach towards it.

Listening to music and attending live performances are trendy among the youth these days. How can we use this platform to engage more youth in meditation and spirituality today?

In 2002, a few of us went to three popular pubs in Bangalore, India, and shut them down for the night and played devotional dance and rock music instead. We got a terrific response from the kids there. One of them said, “Wow, we’ve never been able to go to a rock satsang where we can participate and find peace while being in a cool crowd”.

Later, I made Cosmic Celebration and a few other dance albums. Such songs appeal to youth and encourage them to participate in group satsangs and meditation. It is not a question of forcing them to meditate, but a question of them coming to you and saying, “This was fun, how can I maintain this level of energy?” That is when you introduce youth to meditation. Dance music has definitely appealed to the youth to attract them towards being more meditative and more productive in their life.

Yoga Rave was initiated on the concept of rock satsangs. Can you share how these initiatives can be effective?

Yoga Rave, or dance music, attracts the youth, giving them an alternative to the usual partying life and making them do a little bit of yoga and meditation on the side. It was initiated for kids who want to have a good time. Yoga Rave is a complete package for a non-stereotype Art of Living devotee. It gives them an alternative to going and boozing up. I think it has been very effective across the globe. Hats off to Rudo Bustos and Nico Pucci from Argentina—they have done a really good job. They have inspired a lot of youth to take up a better path in life. I encourage more and more youth to get into this.

Can you share a few tips for our young meditators—something that will help them in their journey of meditation?

Meditation is about totally letting go and finding that which you are. It is a state of mind that exists not only with your eyes closed but can also be experienced with your eyes open. I feel music is a vehicle to find that silence. It is a tool to find peace. When you can experience that peace, you have achieved something worth living for. I hope that every meditator is able to find that peace through music or through whatever means she can.