Nada Yoga translates to "Union with Sound". Where some types of meditation focus on your breath, movements or just being still, Nada Yoga is all about shifting your focus on sounds.
Right at the start of my sound journey, I was in a really bad place. I was feeling the full force of chronic PTSD; the flashbacks, nightmares etc and I was on some really strong medication just to help me get to sleep. I couldn't get any help from the NHS and I felt broken past repair. I was at rock bottom. And it was in that absolute low that I found Nada Yoga helped me find some stillness and peace. It not only helped me remain relaxed. It even taught me how to navigate what I was remembering, feeling and experiencing. It bound me to this moment and accept it for what it is.
Now, it should go without saying that if you are reading this and you are suffering from PTSD or know someone who is, I am not saying that Nada Yoga alone fixed me. I still had the support of a GP, my loved ones and a few sessions with a councillor. But it was the point that I stopped suffering and starting healing. It showed me that I could control my thoughts and that however broken I felt on the outside, something inside of me was so much stronger.
What's the purpose of Nada Yoga?
There are two types of sound. External sounds (Ahata) and internal sounds (Anahata). If you're familiar with chakras then you may recognise Anahata being the name of your heart chakra as traditionally it is believed that we hear sounds in our hearts. The purpose of Nada Yoga is to find your internal sounds- your breath, your heartbeat, maybe even the sound of existence itself. We are all just atoms vibrating in space after all. Sounds are just vibrations interacting with our physical bodies, and as a consequence, affecting our mental and emotional bodies too.
How do you practice Nada Yoga/ Sound meditation?
Here is something you can literally do anywhere, and my challenge to you is to literally try this anywhere; somewhere peaceful at first and when you're familiar with it, go somewhere less peaceful.
While getting used to this meditation, try this sitting with your eyes closed. Focus on what you can hear outside of the room you're in or in the distance if you are outside. If there is anything happening closer to you, consciously pull your attention to the sounds further away. What can you hear in the distance? Take a few moments to notice what sounds come and go. If a sound is more present than others; is it constant or does it change in pitch, volume, rhythm, etc.
Now bring your focus to any sounds in the room that you're in or in your foreground if you are outside. Think of these sounds like actors on a stage. You're not evaluating their performance; you're just listening to what they sound like. Are they deep or higher pitched? Are they natural or artificial? Now think of them as purely sounds. Each time you feel your mind paint a picture of them or you feel any kind of emotion good or bad towards them; think of them again as actors on a stage; like you're merely listening to a performance without judgement. Continue for a few moments.
Bring your attention to the sounds within you. What can you hear inside of you? Again, like actors on a stage. It's a performance and you are merely observing what you are hearing. Rest in this moment. It's just you and you're own secret soundtrack.
Notice how you feel in this moment. How much space is there inside of you? Do you feel anything else?
This is really all there is to it. If you have a Himalayan singing bowl to hand- this is the meditation for this instrument. Simply strike the bowl and listen as the sound fades away. Find that point where you can no longer hear any trace of the sound. When you are sure that it's stopped ringing. Try it again. Listen to how the sound changes as it fades away. Notice the vibrations from the bowl. Notice any sensations from the bowl pass into you. Repeat a 3rd time. Notice as much of the experience as possible. Then notice how you feel at the end.