I live in a temperate rain forest on the eastern edge of the Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests in the western part of North Carolina. Here the sounds that dominate, that waft and drift through the pine scented air are the songs of Nature. It is the first week of January 2017 and especially silent due to the 6 plus inches of snowfall last night that continues to drift down from the sky in the early hours of Saturday morning.
My snow loving kitty, Ana, and I greet the dawn. I’m enjoying the snow covered peaks and white iced lotus pond that graces our view while sweeping off the cold, dry snow fall from my deck. Soon as a space is cleared for my yoga mat, I wrap up in wool blanket, take a long drink of water from a mason jar and settle down into a comfortable seated position to begin my sound healing practice.
The Art of Listening
During this practice I am consciously breathing. I am listening to my breath and then turn my ears to hear: [ I invite you to say out loud all underlined words ]
The hiss of snowflakes as they flutter to the ground;high above the wind shifts and sifts the accumulated snow through the sieve of tall needled pines; then the frrrrrump booooom as the weighty snow lands in a pile near where i stand….tweeks and cheeks and chip-chip and churheek of assorted birds, the vurr of the heat pump, Ana padding down the snow cleared stairs: dun dun dun down she trots to rub and purrr against my legs…”shruuuuuuu” wind whips by… I gaze up as clouds move and part to reveal a patch of blue and that color has a sound, the clouds move with the wind and the wind whirs so the clouds wherrrrrrrr too…crack goes an oak branch in the woods behind me and a squirrel sounds the alarm snick snick chuuurk …so much for quiet , one might remark! I take a deep breath of the cold pine scented air and listen to my inhale and exhale…..
Your shamanic chakra sound healing practice begins like that: with breathing, with listening. So, before you switch your day on. i.e. phone and / or computer, waking up other occupants, etc., and if you are fortunate to live in a mostly quiet environment, rural or otherwise, take a moment before your day begins and step outside. If you live in an urban area then do this practice sitting or standing in the most private and quiet space you have, which could be a clothes closet!
I recommend having a journal near by and then setting an alarm, timing your practice, if you’re on a schedule. This will help to keep your mind in as relaxed a state as possible. To begin with, gift yourself at least 15 minutes for the breath and listening practice [the majority of my students add more time as they get into a daily practice –for it is delicious as well as nutritious!]
Your Daily Shamanic Sound Practice:
Alarm set? Good.
- Now, close your eyes and gently yet deeply inhale through your nose and hold for a few seconds then gently, slowly release the breath through the nose, again holding breath out for a few seconds.
- After 30 seconds or one minute, turn your listening awareness to just outside your body. Listen to everything, spend as much time as you can observing and feeling what you hear in your immediate surroundings: it may be your bodily sounds, sounds of other people, or electrical appliances, etc.
- Listen and follow the sounds in your immediate environment—and as you listen, imagine the shape the sound makes, does the sound shape fit what image you may have of this sound? The idea of what the sound is? How does the sound look?? Colors? Textures? Position? Geometry? This may take a minute or two or three…take as long as you can to fully feel you have visited and met every sound.
- Next, exercise, listen to what is beyond the room where you are sitting and breathing. Take your listening self out of the space you are in and follow sounds throughout your entire dwelling: up towards the ceilings, below floors and through walls. Venture with your listening self out the windows and into the street or park, allowing sounds to pull you into their vibration and flow with them.
- You may hear birds, dogs, cars, airplanes, other people, and sounds with no identification, allow the sounds to lead you, assisting your listening self to travel further and further from your sitting, breathing body and the room you are in. This is your opportunity to ride the wind of sounds…blend your listening self with the sounds and become the sounds you hear. You may be attracted to a particular sound so be with that and explore it to its fullest. This is an invitation to develop or deepen your relationship to something ‘other” than you.
- Once you have traveled beyond what you can audibly hear, go a little further, to where sound seems to end and rest your listening self in this place. Keep breathing as you explore this unusual soundscape: the place where the sound is beyond sound. Breathing seems to stop here, the pauses between breaths, lengthen and deepen. The last part of this is your own personal experience. I have led you to a gateway to place for you to explore at your own pace and experience with your true self.
- The alarm goes off. Keep your eyes closed. Take a full deep breath and hold in for 8 seconds then breath out and hold out for 8 seconds. You can repeat this if you’d like. Next, cover your ears with your hands stopping out all outside sounds and listen to the interior sound of you! Spend as much time as you can experiencing the interior sounds.
Introducing Vedic Sound Science
So, what are those mysterious inner sounds!!!?
According to the ancient Vedas and other ancient shamanic cultures, that is the sound of Nada Brahman, Spirit, Source, or Ocean of frequency vibration that underlies EVERYTHING in the Cosmos. It is the sound of the frequencies of your physical, emotional and mental systems, your spirit and what composes your spirit. Your mind may identify your heart beating, low humming, high pitch whirring or streaming sounds, oceanic waves, oscillating whirring, thudding, thunder, bells chiming, buzzing; listen to all the different sounds from with in you, all the sounds that are apart of you at this moment and then move your hands to cover your eyes and open your eyes to gaze in the dark of your palms and see what you see. After 30 seconds, slowly open your fingers and adjust to the light of this day. You are now harmonized with the intelligence of spirit, the song of Nature and this new day.
In Part II we will be deepening this practice by adding shamanic vocalizations to enliven chakra centers and create our personal sound healing practice.