Types of Meditation:
NADA MEDITATION OR SOUND MEDITATION
Nada Mediation is the process of uniting our minds with cosmic consciousness through the flow of sounds. The word Nad - means sound. Here we train ourselves to focus on the sound being produced. This way our minds are focused on a single thing, i.e. the sound itself.
There are two types of sounds that Nad Meditation can be divided into:
External sound; when two surfaces strike together to make a sound. Eg: a gong, Tibetan singing bowls, a flute, a guitar, the river flowing which involves the water striking against the earth, the wind is also considered to be ahata, etc.
Internal sound; the Universal sound of creation. This sound already exists. It is present all the time and has the same frequency always. The difference is how you choose to listen to the sound or explore it. It cannot be seen or touched.
Anahata sound is always present inside our bodies. It can be heard at the Anahata or Heart Chakra. It is like the sound of OM / AUM, which is the Universal and primal sound that has existed since the beginning of time. All sounds emerge from this sound.
Our bodies are made up of the 5 elements also called the Panchmahabruta or the 5 Tattvas- Prithvi (earth), Jal (water), Agni (fire), Vayu (air), Aakash (space). These elements combine with the energies of the earth and create sounds within us. Everything from our bodies to the DNA and bacteria within it, the solar systems to space, each has its own sound and creates music. Space is the most primal element in our bodies. It is connected to the ear which is our sense organ to perceive sound. In fact, when a person dies, hearing is the last function to leave the body.
Listening to the sound of Breath is also a form of Unconscious Nada Meditation.
It brings you back to the present moment. The body is a machine that is being controlled by the mind. When we witness the mind, we arrive at the soul.
Sound meditation has become quite a common form nowadays. There are events where one is guided into a state of total relaxation with just the power of sound created by a combination of instruments.
In any Ahata meditation that you try out, reject the sound that you don’t like. Choose a track whose rhythms and beats will not cause too many emotions and sensations inside you. The track must be without lyrics as lyrics tend to activate your mind. It can be practiced either sitting or lying down. Make sure not to fall asleep ;).
This technique involves placing awareness on every single part of the body individually in a fixed sequential order. It is of two types:
- External Body scanning
- Internal body scanning,
- Scanning of each organ individually.
- Scanning the insides of each organ.
This technique is usually practiced in a lying down position (but can also be practiced seated). It is advised to be in a comfortable space, where there are no other distractions. Make sure that you are comfortably attired and have a blanket close by for when you get cold. Often when we meditate or reach a calm space, the heat in our bodies tends to get centralized. Like when we sleep at night, we generally need a blanket or sheet to keep our bodies warm as the first place that heat escapes from is our fingers and toes.
To learn the technique of body scanning, it is advisable to do a few guided sessions first. One can also refer to YouTube for videos that delve into the technique. It is a technique that requires practice. Often, the first few times when one tries this out, the body reaches such a state of calm that it goes to sleep. In time, it is important to stay awake during the session as we are working to achieve awareness throughout. This technique is a way for the mind to be occupied by focusing on each body part.
Some important points to remember:
For the intermediate and advanced levels, one needs to have a thorough knowledge of the body and its parts and location on the body to be able to visualize the specific part correctly.
The technique like every other requires practice to be able to feel any kind of results.
We work on the mind only during this practice. Even though we are focusing on the body, we are not doing any work on it specifically.
This technique of meditation is used in Yogic breathing as well. Please refer to our techniques of Pranayama article to know more about this.
Mindfulness is actually a western concept that involves being fully present during every single moment; giving your full attention to each action you are doing while focusing on only one thing at a time. It involves full awareness.
Eg1: You decide that you would like to make tea for yourself in the morning. You start by filling a pan with water and placing it on the stove. Then you crush the ginger to add, you add the sugar, any other condiments and eventually tea leaves. The whole time you did all of this, your mind was fully concentrated on everything that you did, without wandering anywhere else. When the tea is ready, you happily pour yourself a cup and carry it to the balcony to sip in the sun.
Being fully present during every moment of the process, fussing with the fragrances and textures, means that you were mindful. You were not thinking of how sleepy you were or what the tea would taste like later. You just focussed on the process.
Eg2: Now imagine that while you were walking to your balcony and you slip and fall and the entire tea spills on the floor into a mess and the cup breaks as well. How would you react? There are possibly two reactions
- You get annoyed, after all you had taken so much of an effort to do everything right, you were fully mindful. You start cursing or the incident changes your mood and now you angrily go and get a mop to clean up.
- You realise the reason why you slipped and accept that mistakes do happen. It's alright if you put the effort into it, if time permits, now you can just make another cup of tea and enjoy it once again.
In the first instance, you become judgmental of yourself and the surroundings and got annoyed. In the second, you chose to accept the moment for what it is and the double work involved as well.
It's important to remember that being mindful is about being non-judgmental in every present moment.
Being mindful involves being focused on one task at a time. It cannot involve multitasking. Multitasking is the process of trying to complete many processes at the same time and one work always ends up affecting another work.
Eg: John is sitting at his computer. His phone is by his side and ever so often he checks his phone for various notifications. On his computer, he is working on his blog, but simultaneously multiple tabs are open on his web browser. He is also sipping a cup of tea while the TV plays in the background. At some point, the tea in his cup is over and he feels frustrated, the constant notifications from his phone don’t allow him to concentrate on his blog, and the noise from the TV affects his thoughts as well. He didn’t enjoy his tea at all.
This is an example of multi-tasking where the lack of concentration on one task at a time devalues all the tasks being completed.
One of the most common examples of multi-tasking is the way people choose to watch movies at home. They usually sit in front of a laptop or TV and watch a movie while eating their meals. Or vice versa, they only eat meals while watching something. This is one of the worst ways to eat food. The food here is just being consumed down the system, no attention is given to the mastication process, the taste of the food and is quite bad for the general health of your system in the long run.
Another example: imagine you are cooking rice in a pressure cooker. You are aware that the rice will take about 20 min to cook. During these 20min, you choose to read a book because you are aware that it will be at least 20 minutes before you have to pay attention to the rice again. Here this is not multitasking but being productive. When the 20 minutes are up, you leave the book and go back to the rice. One task did not affect the other task.
The technique of mindfulness does have one setback. It doesn’t necessarily make you aware of the difference between good and bad.
Eg: imagine a serial killer. When this person goes through his methods in thorough detail of how he plans to complete his next task, he is fully present during the planning and execution of the process. It also gives him great joy. This does not mean, however, that his actions are justifiable in anyway.
So being mindful doesn’t necessarily teach you the difference between good and bad, and hence is not enough to lead you to the path of Moksh (liberation).
It has to be coupled with Vipassana. Mindfulness is the doing/action. Vipassana is the knowing/reaction. By practicing Vipassana, we are already working on mindfulness simultaneously as it trains us to bring our awareness to the current moment.
If you would like to know more about Vipassana in detail, please refer to our Vipassana article.
This is the process of creating images in your head. These are generally related to the future. Our minds have a tendency to automatically create a mental picture of everything. These visualisations are often restricted to the information that we already have.
Eg: if you are dreaming of a trip to Paris, and you know nothing about Paris, then you will have no images in your head and go into the experience with an open mind. However, if you have done a lot of research online, or had many experiences with French people or things, then maybe you will start visualising yourself eating a croissant or pan de chocolat by the Eiffel tower.
Visualisations are connected to the Law of attraction. When we visualise good things, then the same happens.
Eg: just before going to bed, you visualise yourself eating ice cream, you imagined which shop exactly you would be eating the ice cream from, what time of day it was, and you could taste in your mouth exactly what flavour you were eating as well.
The next day, your friend randomly brings you home some ice cream.
Sometimes people have a tendency to visualise bad things as well.
Eg: we are walking the road, and a car drives by quickly. There was a wet puddle on the side and the dirty water got splashed onto your clean clothes. You get annoyed and immediately wish some ill upon that person.
It is quite possible, that if you are someone who is in the habit of doing this regularly, something bad does happen to that person.
Or if you started the morning in a bad spirit and are just cursing your day, then when the car splashes the dirty mud onto you, it's almost as if you attracted it to yourself.
In this we can remember the phrase - be careful what you wish for.
It's important to practice visualisation by itself. Do not try to multitask during the process. The best time to visualise it is before you sleep at night. Create the image of what you want for yourself in your head, but don’t stop there. Imagine yourself actually living through the entire experience as if it already happened.
Don’t get stuck with visualisations for small goals. Those will happen anyway and with practice, sometimes instantly.
Take the time to visualise big goals, these require you to spend time on the visualisation and go through the process for the same goal multiple times.
Visualisation can be a relaxation tool and can take one to a calm and happy place. They do not involve any manipulation and the thoughts flow naturally. It’s almost as if the visuals are coming from our higher self or soul who seems to know the greatest good for us in the future.There is no manipulation of thoughts in a visual. Any manipulation indicates that your mind is getting involved and there is some influence of ego who wants things a certain way. Any insecurities that show up during a visualisation can be considered as forms of premonition. It is important to go through these and imagine yourself facing your demons and fears. If we are able to do this in the visualisation, then for sure we will be able to face them in real life as we have already lived through the experience.
Please note that visualisations are not meant to be an escape from the world, those are day dreams, i.e. the dreams that one has or creates while one is still awake. They often involve a lot of manipulation as well. Visualising is a conscious practice that occurs without force and effortlessly.