I'm Chris Norstrom, a User Interface & User Experience designer and this is my personal hand picked collection of the best meditation and relaxation music on the web. I got into meditation years ago for the mental benefits and have been doing it ever since. It's a shame we're not practicing it in schools actually.
I've gotten so good that I can go into deep meditation (sleeping awake) in about 10 minutes. That's when you lose feeling of your body, time, & space and feel like you're floating around in pure darkness. It feels vividly real. Not surprising when you consider that we can hallucinate entire environments and human beings, complete with physics, sounds, and dialog, all while we're asleep (dreams). You'd be amazed at the things your brain is capable of. I wish more people understood this.
Online Ambient Radio Stations, Stillstream.com and DI.FM/ambient are where I discover my ambient music. If you're looking for REALLY good high quality hour long nature sounds, head to WhiteNoiseMP3s and NatureSoundSpa.
(CC = Creative Commons License, PD = Public Domain)
Nothing like what you've seen on TV or in Movies. Most people's perception of meditation/trance/hypnosis is built on lies and exaggerations by Hollywood or scam artists. They watched a stage hypnotist on TV snap his fingers and make people waddle around clucking like chickens. I'm sorry to inform you but that's all unproven, unscientific, B.S. which gives hypnosis (guided meditative trance) a bad name.
Deep meditation (a trance) is "Sleeping Awake". When you go to sleep at night your body slows its breathing & heart rate and you loose feeling of your limbs, while your mind looses consciousness and you black out. Your body and mind shut down at the same time. With meditation, perticularly deep meditation (out of body experience / trance / hypnosis) you "sleep awake". Your body shuts down and goes to sleep but you are completely concious the entire time. You can't feel your limbs, heart beat, or lungs breathing. You completely loose track of time and gravity and feel like you're floating around in a massive black, empty, nothingness.
If feels like you're floating around in the universe before it was made. Completely empty and quiet. No gravity. No direction. No time. No space. No memories. No emotions. No body. No flesh. It's the most peace you'll ever experience in your life apart from sleep and death. There's absolutely nothing on your mind. The only thing you're aware of, is your existence. That's all. And when you wake up, you feel amazingly refreshed. Not just physically but mentally. It's hard to describe. Every human being should get to experience it at least once in their life. Just make sure your cell phone is off because it's actually very easy to snap out of.
Scientifically, hypnosis is just guided meditation. Hypnosis is real but its "promises" are just placebos, which are effective 30% of the time at best. So it can still help people with anxiety, depression, and social disorders but, meditation by itself is much more effective and has more clinically proven benefits. With hypnotherapy, a hypnotherapist (or audio recording) guides you into a meditative trance and speaks suggestive phrases to you hoping they get implanted into your mind and change your behavior.
The problem with this is that it's not guaranteed to stick in your mind and affect you, because sometimes you hear and remember everything, other times you don't. Same with dreams, sometimes you remember dreams, sometimes you don't. Dreams though, are your own mind's creations. They build instinct and structure information in the brain even when you don't remember them. Hypnotherapy, on the other hand, are outside suggestions by someone else. Imagine someone talking to you while you're daydreaming or half asleep. You might not hear them, let alone remember what they said. This is why people prefer anti-depressants, counseling, and traditional therapy. Hypnotherapy is seen as more of a pseudoscience.
The one thing that hypnotherapy can do VERY well is create a dream world for you while you're meditating (purely for recreational and relaxational purposes). A hypnotherapist or cd-recording can guide you into a trance and start telling you a story. Your mind can then bring the sites, sounds, and smells to life. Almost to the point where you can see and smell them as if they were real. So other than really vivid "mind vacations", hypnosis isn't going to solve your problems. Unfortunately $100 an hour "mind vacations" don't sell very well so hypnotherapy gets packaged together with miracle claims. If hypnotherapy does get you to lose weight or quit smoking, it's NOT the hypnosis, it's you. It's your mind. You believed it enough that it worked. Like I said, stick to meditation, invest in YOUR mental skills, not someone else's.