The people who make Lexus cars are meticulous in their attention to detail and this includes developing and improving the sounds that Lexus cars make. Even the sound of a door closing is optimised to have the most pleasing sound. It is well-known that sounds can influence our mental wellbeing and can improve and encourage a positive mood.
With this in mind, Lexus has produced a range of music tracks to aid mindfulness practice while in or out of the car. Instead of using musical instruments, the tracks consist entirely of carefully crafted sounds from a variety of Lexus cars that were recorded in a studio and then mixed. Seatbelt clicks, tailgate warning bells and adjustable seat motors are among the sounds that take the place of drums, cymbals, percussion and keyboards to make up the tracks, which can be streamed for free on Spotify: Lexus Mindfulness Tracks
Christoph Spiessens is a certified mindfulness teacher and a learning and development professional and coach who has been helping people cultivate calm and confidence with meditation and workshops for more than 15 years. He has been working with Lexus on projects for several years and provided guidance on how the soundtracks can help promote mindfulness.
He explains: “Music has the power to stimulate emotions, affect blood pressure and heart rate and improve mental alertness. Mindfulness practice helps us become aware of our immediate reactions and judgements, and this increased awareness creates a helpful pause; a space from which we can choose to respond instead of react. The Lexus mindfulness tracks, through a huge array of interesting sound effects and melodies, provide the opportunity to notice our initial reactivity to these intriguing soundscapes as well as the tendency of our mind to label these sounds or be carried away by the music. These extraordinary compositions offer a refreshing way to befriend our minds and thus enhance our wellbeing. They can be used while driving, to practise ‘mindful listening,’ but of course they should not be used for mindfulness meditation when at the wheel.
“A beautiful foundational attitude from the world of mindfulness is called a ’Beginner’s Mind‘ (“shoshin” in Japanese, from Zen Buddhism),” says Spiessens. “By bringing a beginner’s mind to the experience of listening to any of these tracks, we make a conscious choice to listen with an open and curious attitude, making a commitment to approach our experience as if we are hearing these sounds for the first time, with full awareness of our preconceptions which will undoubtedly crop up. This enables us to discover new things and become aware of the reactivity of our minds.
- Notice what mood or frame of mind you are in right now?’ This is about music as a vehicle for self-awareness.
- Notice your eagerness to play a track. The mind is always making predications, it wants to know. Think about your breathing for a few moments. Mindfulness is, in a way, “heartfulness,” (‘Nen’ is Mindfulness in Japanese and teaches us to ‘stay in the moment’) and means establishing a connection between mind and body.
- When the music starts, notice the mind’s reactivity. Can you “be” with the raw experience of these interesting sounds; the sensory qualities, such as pitch, loudness? How about your emotions, do they change during the track? Are you able to keep focused on the music or does your mind wander? All these questions are at the very core of mindfulness practice: non-judgemental noticing and present-moment awareness.
The Lexus mindfulness tracks
Calming Duet of Seat Motor and Tailgate Warning Bell
This two-and-a-half-minute track opens with the gentle hum of the Lexus RX L seven-seat SUV’s adjustable seat motor and then a simple melody is overlaid featuring different notes from the tailgate warning bell. Tonal elements are provided by the RX L adjustable seat motors and the Lexus NX SUV’s power-assisted steering system, while the melody is from the RX L power tailgate warning bell.
Spiessens comments: “I believe this track is well suited for ‘mindfulness of breathing’ practice. It is my favourite Lexus track and the calmest and I listen to it when I need a moment to collect my thoughts, before or after an important meeting, or before I switch off my computer after a busy day. I like how the track begins with a sound similar to that of an engine rumbling which soon fades (like the mind stilling) and is followed by simple bell-like sounds and a celestial soundscape.
Lexus Uplifting Idle Engine
The main melodic riff from this catchy tune consists of an RX L engine idling, accompanied by the raw sound of Lexus LC 500 coupe window motors. The ‘stabs’ (single staccato notes/chords that add dramatic punctuation to a musical piece)which sound like steel drums, are actually the sound of an LC window motor. For the percussion elements the kick drums are the Lexus UX SUV sun visor closing, together with the sound of an RX L engine bay being hit with a soft beater, while the ‘snare drums’ are the LC seatbelt latch and door close, plus the RX L power button. Clicks and snaps are provided by various LC 500 switches. The tonal elements consist of the plucky percussive xylophone-type sounds from a soft beater hitting sections of an LC chassis. Special effects consist of the tonal electronic buzzing from an RX L ignition sequence recorded under the bonnet.
Spiessens comments: “This track is upbeat from the start and offers many different sound effects. ‘Hedonic tone’ in psychology, is a very important foundation of mindfulness. We tend to immediately evaluate the bare qualities of an experience, the primary appraisal. ‘Vedanā’ (an ancient term that means feeling or sensation) arises when our senses, but also the mind, meet an experience, therefore including physical sensations and emotions. ‘Vedanā’ is important because the more we are consciously aware of how we interpret something (as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral), the more we can be in control of how we respond more mindfully.”
Lexus Rhythmic Warmth from Screen Spray
This track centres on the rhythmic mechanical swooshing sound of Lexus RX L windscreen wipers and spray. Percussion elements, or ‘kick drums,’ are from the sounds of an LC boot closing, and the ‘snare drums’ are the sound of a Lexus UX door closing. The ‘hi-hats’ (clap from two cymbals) are provided by the sound of an LC passenger window motor. For the tonal elements, the bass is an LC infotainment bell layered with the LC window motor. The ‘marimba-esque’ melodic lead line is formed by the Park Assistance Brake of a Lexus NX. At 0.45 seconds you can hear the pitchy tone provided by the UX electric windows. The special effects elements are the wooshes and sweeps provided by the RX L air conditioning system.
Spiessens comments: “This is by far the most ‘techno’ track of them all and is one that I believe could be useful to listen to while driving, as it could enhance focus and therefore a better driving performance.”
Lexus Infotainment Groove
This four-minute track is one of the most complex of the Lexus mindfulness tracks, featuring sounds from multiple Lexus vehicles as various relays and motors spring into action. The percussion elements or ‘kick drums’ are the sound of a Lexus LC Coupe seat being slapped and the ‘claps’ are the clicks of an LC fuel cap being closed. Extra Percussion sounds are from LC seat switches and the UX power button. The lead melody consists of a selection tone from a Lexus infotainment system, while the bass is the sound of the Lexus UX adjustable steering column which has been lowered in pitch. At 0:40 seconds you can hear harmonic elements being introduced, which are provided by the clicks from the UX ignition sequence which were recorded under the bonnet. The ‘wooshes’ are from the RX L air-conditioning system.
Spiessens comments: “This is a longer track, which is great for practising sustained attention on breathing. It instantly catches your attention and builds anticipation. Does your mind fill in the bass ahead of the actual bass drop?”
Lexus Mindfulness Tracks Promo Mix