By: Stephanie Miller-Kopyar
‘Om Namah Shivaya gurave nada1bindu1kalatmane niranjana1padam yati nityam yatra parayanah’
Salutations to the nadam, which is the inner guide and the inner life, the dispenser of happiness to all. It is the inner guru appearing as nada, bindu and kala. One who is devoted to the inner guru, the nada, the inner music, obtains the highest bliss. -Hatha Yoga Pradipika IV.1
There’s a practice of deep listening known as the yoga of sound, or Nada Yoga. Close your eyes for a moment and just listen to the external sounds around you.
The ears hear sound from all directions and perceive finer differences than our eyes. Vision is really quite linear and easily tricked (think of an optical illusion), our ears though inform us more truthfully about reality. As we develop the ability to listen to the sounds around us we can turn that ability to listen inward. From here we can begin the practice of Pratyahara, withdrawing the senses to become more quiet and still. Most sound is made by friction, by objects touching one another but there is another sound called “anahata,” the sound of silence. This is the place we want to be in touch with and not surprisingly is heard at the heart.
To listen is to be receptive. Being receptive is so paramount to the yogi because enlightenment is not something you can capture, it is something that is received. Let’s look at prakriti for a moment, prakriti is manifested energy. Energy is vibration and all vibrations are sound. The whole universe hums with its own rhythm and frequency. When we can hum with the frequency of the universe we move from human doing to human being. We try and let go of the constant urge to grasp and give meaning to every thought, sight, and sound and in doing so we become quiet. When we’re quiet we can listen, when we listen we can hear.
There is a term in Sanskrit called “shravana.” Shravana is not just hearing something but fully understanding and comprehending it. Shravana requires space and humility though. If the tank is too full the fuel overflows and it doesn’t go into the container. To be receptive means we’ve created the space to receive, we’re open and ready to learn. We can listen without wrapping our own opinions and preconceptions around it. We’re not so defensive or eager to change or “fix” things because internally we feel comfortable.
• Brahmari Breath – known as the “buzzing bee” breath. Bring your arms up so your triceps are parallel to the floor and plug your ears with your index fingers. With the eyes and lips closed inhale through the nose and as you exhale create a humming sound. Try to bring the vibration up through the sinuses and into the frontal lobe. Do this 3 times and rest.
• When speaking with someone try to listen without interrupting. Try not to create your own experience (or story) around what they saying but simply listen, hear them.