Sound and Meditation
Our sense of hearing is the most acutely tuned over a wider range than any of the other senses. Not only that, we hear with the whole body. Dr. Alfred Tomatis called our sense of hearing "a portal into the brain."
Sound (and hearing) and meditation can be a powerful combination. Studies have already shown that the combination of sound and guided meditation boosts the immune system more effectively than sound or meditation alone. Another powerful way of using sound and meditation together is the singing of mantras. An example of a well-known and loved mantra is "Om mani padme hum."
For the purpose of this article, the focus for the sound meditations below is more on the silence or space in between the sounds. There are two sound meditations offered for your exploration, a meditation with a flute track and a Tibetan sound meditation.
The first meditation is a five-minute track I recorded with my native flute. Before you begin either meditation, check in on the state of your body, mind and emotions, then check in again after the meditation to see if you notice any change. By listening to the flute meditation twice with a different focus each time, you can explore first, the sounds themselves and second, the spaces between the sounds.
To access the sound file please copy and paste the link at the end of the resource box below into your browser. The file is stored on my web site.
1. You will discover on the first listening that the sounds are unpredictable. This is intentional and offers the opportunity to exercise the inner ear and engage the mind. Another way to focus on the sounds is to just allow them to wash over you as you relax.
Make sure you check in with your body, mind and emotions before listening for the second time. This can give you valuable information to how the sound and/or your focus on the sound affect you. You might want your journal or a notepad and pen close by to take note as you explore the sound.
2. As you listen to the flute track the second time, focus on the space between the sounds. Note what happens in your body, mind and emotional state. Is it easier or more challenging than listening to the sounds? Does one way of listening need more concentration than the other? Our sense of focused listening is extremely sensitive and subtle.
Tibetan Sound Meditation
The second sound meditation is a Tibetan sound meditation. You can do this one waiting for the bus, standing in line or sitting on a park bench. Opportunities for this technique are limitless and offer a profound way to enter into emptiness. I experienced this technique at Tom Kenyon's, Sound Healer's Training. The instructions for this meditation are included in his book, "Brain States" on page 190. See below:
"The following exercise is a Tibetan Sound Meditation that brings you into a direct awareness of the space or silence from which all sound vibration emerges. It develops subtle perception and intuition and has a very calming influence on the body and mind.
1. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
2. Let your breath be slow and calm, taking about six seconds for the inhale and about six seconds for the inhale and about six seconds for the exhale. Breathe in this way for a minute or so before going on to Step 3.
3. Continuing to breathe in this calm and slow pattern, move your awareness into the sounds around you. But instead of focusing your attention on the sounds themselves, focus on the space or silence around the sound.
4. Get a sense of the spatial orientation of each sound. That is, notice if a particular sound is close or faraway, above you or below you, etc.
5. Try to get a felt sense of the space or silence around each sound you hear and of the greater space that holds all of the sounds including you. Practice this form for ten to thirty minutes, longer if you wish.
Practicing this meditation once a day for thirty days or so will generate profound benefits, including a greater sense of calm and peace as well as health benefits associated with reduced stress. In addition, the consistent practice of this meditation will give you a deep and intuitive knowledge of how sound and vibration relate to your own consciousness."
As with the flute meditation, you might want to have a journal nearby to jot down observations and insights gained in your explorations.