Use of Nada, the sound of silence in meditation

(Listen to the sound of what appears to be a didgeridoo at 39.40 into the discussion.)

The Shankhmukhi mudra is often used as a part of the series of steps in achieving a meditative state. Have you ever wondered how this sound “sounds”? Try to listen to your own anahata sounds and decide whether it is your simple affliction with tinnitus of something more and deeper than that!

The Yoga Upanishad (36-38) says ” that when the Nada sound has reached the middle  of the head it sounds like a mountain-cataract”. So maybe you hear something akin to this?

I found an interesting piece by Kimba Arem on this topic:

She writes:

“The Nāda yoga system divides music into two categories: internal music, anahata, and external music,ahata. While the external music is conveyed to consciousness via sensory organs in the form of the ears, in which mechanical energy is converted to electrochemical energy and then transformed in the brain to sensations of sound, it is the anahata chakra, which is considered responsible for the reception of the internal music, but not in the way of a normal sensory organ.

The anahata concept refers to one’s own personal sound vibrations, which is thought to be so closely associated with one’s self and the self that a person can not share their anahata with another human being. In other words, this inner sound is sacred and once reached will open the practitioner’s chakras, which ultimately will unite the body to the divine/cosmos.

With continued sounds, a focused mind and controlled breath, the individual can, according to Nāda yoga, “listen in on” their own anahata, their own “inner sound”, which can take up to nine different forms. Such a process of inner awareness and sensitivity leads to increased self-recollectedness and finally to awakening.

To concentrate on this inner sound as a support for meditation is very helpful to tame the mind, and when it has been clearly recognized, used for self-recollectedness in outer life as well. Eventually, it can be experienced as penetrating all matter and indeed vibrates eternally throughout the Creation.”

This is what the classic Sanskrit treatise Hatha Yoga Pradipika has to say on the subject Chapter IV( verses 83-87):

“The sound which a muni hears by closing his ears with his fingers, should be heard attentively, till the mind becomes steady in it.81.

अभ्यस्यमानो नादो|अयं बाह्यमावॄणुते धवनिम |
पक्ष्हाद्विक्ष्हेपमखिलं जित्वा योगी सुखी भवेत || ८३ ||

abhyasyamāno nādo|ayaṃ bāhyamāvṝṇute dhvanim |
pakṣhādvikṣhepamakhilaṃ jitvā yoghī sukhī bhavet || 83 ||

By practising with this nâda, all other external sounds are stopped. The Yogî becomes happy by overcoming all distractions within 15 days.82.

शरूयते परथमाभ्यासे नादो नाना-विधो महान |
ततो|अभ्यासे वर्धमाने शरूयते सूक्ष्ह्म-सूक्ष्ह्मकः || ८४ ||

śrūyate prathamābhyāse nādo nānā-vidho mahān |
tato|abhyāse vardhamāne śrūyate sūkṣhma-sūkṣhmakaḥ || 84 ||

In the beginning, the sounds heard are of great variety and very loud; but, as the practice increases, they become more and more subtle.83.

आदौ जलधि-जीमूत-भेरी-झर्झर-सम्भवाः |
मध्ये मर्दल-शङ्खोत्था घण्टा-काहलजास्तथा || ८५ ||

ādau jaladhi-jīmūta-bherī-jharjhara-sambhavāḥ |
madhye mardala-śangkhotthā ghaṇṭā-kāhalajāstathā || 85 ||

In the first stage, the sounds are surging, thundering like the beating of kettle drums and jingling ones. In the intermediate stage, they are like those produced by conch, Mridanga, bells, &c.84.

अन्ते तु किङ्किणी-वंश-वीणा-भरमर-निःस्वनाः |
इति नानाविधा नादाः शरूयन्ते देह-मध्यगाः || ८६ ||

ante tu kingkiṇī-vaṃśa-vīṇā-bhramara-niḥsvanāḥ |
iti nānāvidhā nādāḥ śrūyante deha-madhyaghāḥ || 86 ||

In the last stage, the sounds resemble those from tinklets, flute, Vîṇâ, bee, &c. These various kinds of sounds are heard as being produced in the body.85.

महति शरूयमाणे|अपि मेघ-भेर्य-आदिके धवनौ |
तत्र सूक्ष्ह्मात्सूक्ष्ह्मतरं नादमेव परामॄशेत || ८७ ||

mahati śrūyamāṇe|api megha-bhery-ādike dhvanau |
tatra sūkṣhmātsūkṣhmataraṃ nādameva parāmṝśet || 87 ||

Though hearing loud sounds like those of thunder, kettle drums, etc., one should practise with the subtle sounds also.86.

घनमुत्सॄज्य वा सूक्ष्ह्मे सूक्ष्ह्ममुत्सॄज्य वा घने |
रममाणमपि कष्हिप्तं मनो नान्यत्र छालयेत || ८८ ||

ghanamutsṝjya vā sūkṣhme sūkṣhmamutsṝjya vā ghane |
ramamāṇamapi kṣhiptaṃ mano nānyatra chālayet || 88 ||

Leaving the loudest, taking up the subtle one, and leaving the subtle one, taking up the loudest, thus practising, the distracted mind does not wander elsewhere.87.”

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All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Impact of Meditation on Default Mode Networks

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 10.07.40 AM.png
Source: Dr. Riccardo Cassini and Dr. David Bercelli @ http://www.tre-webinar.com/p/tre-webinar-interview-with-dr-cassiani-about-the-nervous-system-and-tre

Defined as per Wiki:

“The default mode network (DMN) is most commonly shown to be active when a person is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest, such as during daydreaming and mind-wandering. But it is also active when the individual is thinking about others, thinking about themselves, remembering the past, and planning for the future. The network activates “by default” when a person is not involved in a task. Though the DMN was originally noticed to be deactivated in certain goal-oriented tasks and is sometimes referred to as the task-negative network, it can be active in other goal-oriented tasks such as social working memory or autobiographical tasks. The DMN has been shown to be negatively correlated with other networks in the brain such as attention networks.”

Impact of meditation:

“… Results indicate that meditation is associated with reduced activations in the default mode network relative to an active task in meditators compared to controls. Regions of the default mode showing a group by task interaction include the posterior cingulate/precuneus and anterior cingulate cortex. These findings replicate and extend prior work indicating that suppression of default mode processing may represent a central neural process in long-term meditation, and suggest that meditation leads to relatively reduced default mode.”

Source: NCBI- “Meditation leads to reduced default mode network activity beyond an active task”

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All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Pranayma breathing: bodily impact

At it’s essence Pranayama is a mechanism that involves control of breath as a prop to eventually gain  control the mind and the thought process.  However, rather than delving into brain MRI and “thought” scans it may be less daunting to just see the impact of controlled breathing on physiological processes.

This is from a recent twelve week study published in the International Journal of Yoga:

  • “Slow and deep breathing is efficient as it reduces the ventilation in the dead space of the lungs. Shallow breathing replenishes air only at the base of the lungs in contrast to deep breathing that replenishes the air in all parts of the lung. It decreases the effect of stress and strain on the body by shifting the balance of the autonomic system predominantly toward the parasympathetic system and improves the physical and mental health
  • Heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and perceived stress scale decreased significantly (P < 0.05) in the study group following 12 weeks slow breathing exercise training, while no significant change (P > 0.05) was observed in body mass index  and waist hip ratio. There was no significant change in the control group.”

Source: NCBI

Effect of Modified Slow Breathing Exercise on Perceived Stress and Basal Cardiovascular Parameters by G.Sunil kayak, G.S Gaur, G.K Pal

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All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Meditation: what do we see, if anything?

There’s ample literature out there describing the zone of meditation in which one sees different kinds of lights.  Certainly what one sees is subjective, and as per Ayurveda it may even be linked to karmic influences. However, let’s keep it simple and try to look for recorded study of these light experiences. This one is  from a small sample size of meditators observed at the Brown university:

  • More than forty categories of experience were aggregated into six higher-order clusters: cognitive, perceptual, sense of self, affective/emotional, somatic/physiological, and social/occupational. “perceptual” is defined as pertaining to the senses, i.e. the visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, and tactile systems. “Light experiences” emerged as a sub-category of perceptual experiences in the visual domain. Inclusion criteria for light-related visual experiences included use of the word “light” or description of an experience either directly linked to visual perception with the phenomenal quality of luminosity or brightness. “
  • Scientific studies of light-related experiences tend to classify such phenomena as visual hallucinations. This section presents findings from sensory deprivation, perceptual isolation, and disorders of the visual system.
  • The possibility of viewing meditation practice as a form of sensory deprivation has potentially profound implications. Current medical technologies are combining non-invasive brain stimulation techniques that alter neuronal excitability and enhance cortical plasticity with training protocols to enhance outcomes in neuropsychiatric patients, including dementia, pain, addiction, anxiety, and depression
  • The arising of lights may signal a period of enhanced neuroplasticity and potential for important and enduring shifts. Further research should investigate whether it is the unique configuration of sensory deprivation, attentional training, and investigative processes that accounts for why meditative practices tend to lead to enduring perceptual and affective changes and cognitive insights.

Source: NCBI

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All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

The power of visualization ..think meditation!

Visualization is something commonly found in yogic and Ayurvedic techniques of breathing and meditation.  Here’s what science has to say on a physiological level:

  • “…visualizing movement changes how our brain networks are organized, creating more connections among different regions. It stimulates brain regions involved in rehearsal of movement, such as the putamen located in the forebrain, priming the brain and body for action so that we move more effectively”
  • ….studies show that imagining in the first person may activate muscles more powerfully than when we picture ourselves in the third person.
  • this ability to trigger the motor cortex by imagining an action offers great promise in therapies for patients recovering from stroke and for athletes or dancers working to develop expertise in their craft. But as we get older, the motor cortex has to work harder to imagine actions, so exercising our visualization skills remains important throughout our lives. Mirror neurons, located in different regions of the brain but especially the brain’s motor system, may also play a role in generating movement.”
  • Even though we treat our mind and bodies as two separate entities (brain vs. brawn; mind vs. matter), they are ultimately and intimately connected.
  • the volunteers that performed imaginary exercise had stronger neuromuscular pathways and hence, stronger muscles.  The mentally-lazy volunteers had weaker neuromuscular pathways that were beginning to degrade.

 

Source: Scientific American

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All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

 

 

 

 

 

Types of eye motions

“There are four basic types of eye movements:

Saccades : are rapid, ballistic movements of the eyes that abruptly change the point of fixation. They range in amplitude from the small movements made while reading, for example, to the much larger movements made while gazing around a room. Saccades can be elicited voluntarily, but occur reflexively whenever the eyes are open, even when fixated on a target

Smooth pursuit movements: are much slower tracking movements of the eyes designed to keep a moving stimulus on the fovea. Such movements are under voluntary control in the sense that the observer can choose whether or not to track a moving stimulus

 Vergence movements : Vergence movements align the fovea of each eye with targets located at different distances from the observer. Unlike other types of eye movements in which the two eyes move in the same direction (conjugate eye movements), vergence movements are disconjugate (or disjunctive); they involve either a convergence or divergence of the lines of sight of each eye to see an object that is nearer or farther away.

Vestibulo-ocular movements: stabilize the eyes relative to the external world, thus compensating for head movements. These reflex responses prevent visual images from “slipping” on the surface of the retina as head position varies. “

Source: ncbi

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All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Are motion of eyes and thoughts linked?

“It turns out the eyes not only reflect what is happening in the brain but may also influence how we remember things and make decisions.

….Eye movements can both reflect and influence higher mental functions such as memory and decision-making, and betray our thoughts, beliefs, and desires. This knowledge may give us ways of improving our mental functions – but it also leaves us vulnerable to subtle manipulation by other people.”

 

Source Guardian.com

 

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All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

 

 

 

Meditative sounds!

Written & Produced by Fred Kinck Petersen and Tzvi Erez. 43 Minutes of continuous nature sounds with stunning music backgrounds. This is the final and full release of Tranquility – meditation and relaxation for your mind, body and soul.

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.