I have had a lot of anxious and irritable times in the last few days. I find myself eating nervously, doing random tasks in a compulsive manner and experiencing a whole lot of extra pain. When I’m still, I am vibrating inside with discomfort, an energy that won’t allow me to relax, although I often need to. My mind is everywhere but here. I need to meditate but I don’t have a space in which to do it. (This is me making excuses.)
You would think finding a place to meditate would be an easy task. Doesn’t everyone have a little nook in their house that they can retreat to? Well not me, unless it’s the bed, and even then, it isn’t exclusive, and it isn’t a retreat. I can’t relax, even in bed. I find that I jump up every few minutes, thinking the phone is ringing in the other room, or that someone is in my driveway, or that I’ve forgotten an important and time dated task. Even after bedtime, I found I’m not even tired until after 1 a.m. on some nights. I’d just compulsively read news stories on my laptop. Maybe that’s the problem.
I really need to be here now. Just a person who breathes and sees straight ahead. No distractions. No monkey mind. But I’ve fallen out of the habit. I can’t even concentrate on a single task anymore. It is time to be…here…now! As Ram Dass said so long ago. As I’m saying now. As others are saying out there somewhere. All here now.
In that spirit, I went looking for information from Ram Dass’ book Be Here Now. I found it online*; and I zeroed in on the heading Meditation. It seems there are many ways one can meditate. Of course, all of them involve being quiet, or relatively quiet.
The most fascinating to me was something called Nad Yoga, which is a yoga of attending to the inner sounds. The philosophical idea of the Nad or Nada Yoga is that everything in the cosmos is made up of sound vibrations, called Nada. It is by communing with sounds that we achieve unity with the inner and outer cosmos.
It is also a technique, which is what sounded (heh heh) so interesting. From Be Here Now:
Find a comfortable position where your head, neck and chest are in a straight line. You may lie down if reclining doesn’t lead to sleep. You may wish to use earplugs if there is much erratic external noise. They are not necessary, especially if you can find a quiet place or time of night in which to do this exercise. Keep your eyes and mouth closed.
Now tune in on any inner sound in your head that you can find. Narrow in on that sound until it is the dominant sound you are attending to. Let all other sounds and thoughts pass by.
As you allow that sound to more and more fill your consciousness, you will ultimately merge with that sound so that you do not hear it any longer. At that point you will start to hear another sound. Now tune in on the new sound and repeat the process. There are seven or ten sounds (depending upon the number of discriminations you make).
Ram Dass goes on to describe the way these sounds presented to the famous Theosophist Madame Blavatsky:
The first is like the nightingale’s sweet voice, chanting a parting song to its mate. The next resembles the sound of silver cymbals of the Dhyanis, awakening the twinkling stars. It is followed by the plain melodies of the ocean’s spirit imprisoned in a conch shell, which in turn gives place to the chant of Vina. The melodious flute-like symphony is then heard. It changes into a trumpet blast, vibrating like the dull rumbling of a thunder cloud. The seventh swallows all other sounds. They die and then are heard no more.
Despite my fascination with this method, I wonder if I could penetrate beyond the first sound in my head, a sound that is loud and always there. I have extremely loud tinnitus. Sometimes I can tune it out, but if I’m listening to it explicitly, it becomes overpoweringly loud. It would be an amazing, perhaps even transformative experience if I was able to focus so intensely on my tinnitus that it disappeared — not faded into the background, which I am used to — but truly disappeared! And what fantastic more subtle sound would take its place after that?
I doubt I would have such skill as Madame Blavatsky at describing it, but the very idea makes me wish to try it. The earplugs are a good idea too.
One final thought on the whole idea of Nada, sound vibrations as the fabric of the cosmos: this hearkens back to the story of creation as rendered in the secondary world of Arda by Tolkien in the Ainulindalë, which became the initial part of the Silmarillion. In this account, the deity Eru Ilúvatar creates Arda by means of music, the Music of the Ainur. Although Tolkien primarily drew upon Northern myths to create his secondary worlds, he just as well might have been speaking of of the Indian Nada, the sound that makes up everything.
Years ago, before anything was built around where I live here in rural Tennessee, I used to go outside and listen. I fancied that I heard a soft, low minor harmonic, a minor third, that was so relaxing I spent a lot of time simply walking and listening. I would like to return to that time, as I think my life has become too constricted. Even considering this natural music calms me in my bed late at night. Perhaps I will listen again. Perhaps I will hear it.
*I have removed the link to the site where I found Be Here Now, as Norton Security has identified it as a dangerous site and blocked it (it took it long enough). If you followed the link previously, be sure to run an antivirus scan on your computer or phone. Sorry about that!
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