The focus of this month, mantra, is closely related to nada yoga, the yoga of sound, music, vibrations, and deep listening. It is said that the original sound, the unstruck sound, the sound that existed before time and universe began, is still vibrating, and only enlightened ones can hear it.
My teacher, Jivamukti Yoga co-founder David Life, drew an illustration of what it means to listen. To practice nada yoga means that like a fetus or a child, we are able to submit and be open and be receptive.
One way to practice deep listening is to listen without naming or labeling or categorizing or judging. When we attend a yoga class in the midst of the central business district in Makati, we hear many sounds. During the peak hours, we hear cars honking, people talking, the hustle and bustle of daily life. We may catch ourselves perceiving that these sounds are getting in the way of our yoga practice, that we are somehow being disturbed by these unpleasant noises. That is a biased way of listening, choosing only what fits with the story we have created. We label it noise because we don't like it, we put it in the category of bad because we feel separate from it, we get agitated by the sound because we take it personally. To listen deeply is to let go of our biased way of perceiving things. It is to listen to sounds as they are. It is to refrain from creating illusions around the sound.
Try getting in deep into the yoga practice by observing the sounds as they are. Listen without automatically naming or judging the sounds. You may notice that there are so many subtle layers of sound that exist, not only the loudest, not only the most distinct, not only the more familiar exist. The subtle, soft, distant sounds also exist. Vibratory sounds also exist. Even silence seems to have a sound.
Deep listening is not only a result of a committed practice, it is also a tool in which to connect to our purpose in this world. Many of us have questions we throw out into the universe. Who am I? Why am I here? What should I do? All of these questions have answers within the depths of our souls, and it is through wading through the clutter of many layers of sounds that we are able to hear them.
Listen to the sound of your own breath, the breath of other yogis, the sounds in the room, the sounds outside the room. Can we listen so deeply and with so much receptivity that we lose the potency of our judgments? When we hear a car honking, instead of feeling irritation that we are hearing things we do not like, can we hear the objectivity of the sound, that most likely, there is one person out there rushing to get home to be with those whom he or she loves? When we come into a pose like karnapidasana or ear pressure pose, can we use the shutting out of outside sounds to listen even more deeply to the internal sounds? How we speak to ourselves is the continuing dialogue we have with the universe. Our reality is merely a projection of the sounds we create within the confines of our minds and hearts and spirits. Sounds are powerful. In the repetition of these sounds it becomes a living mantra. In this mantra our material reality is built.
When we sit in meditation, we can use the power of the simple mantra "Let Go". The words are powerful in that they suggest an unequivocal release of all things heavy and overdue. It is a permission we grant ourselves to be free from suffering, to detach from victimhood, to be fearless in pursuing liberation.
Through deep listening, consistent practice, and unwavering faith in our untapped potentials, we could listen more deeply to the many sounds that remind us of how we are all connected. As we chant our final Om, may we be able to hear not only the sound but also feel with no emotional shields its vibrations and resonance.