Twenty years ago, when I first began to integrate the sounds of the crystal bowls into my bodywork sessions, I did not yet realize what wonderful vibrations they could create. Eventually, through exploring the realm of their sounds, a unique type of sound concert and sound meditation emerged: Sound-Diving.
During my time in India, from 1972 to 1985, I lived in the Atmanikethan Ashram and trained as a Hatha Yoga Instructor. A significant aspect of this training was Nada Yoga, and the use of vibration in stillness. Immersing myself in stillness, I formed my understanding of Sound-Diving.
An essential characteristic of Sound-Diving is the coherence between mind and heart. Sound-Diving means immersing oneself in the body and its vibrations, accepting the vibrations as they are. This acceptance leads to the state of profound relaxation that is needed to release the body’s innate powers of self healing.
The harmonic tones of the crystal bowls have a direct effect on our muscles, connective tissue, and nervous system. Their vibrations speak directly to the body on a cellular level. As though conveyed by laser, the sounds touch our bodies and continue to vibrate internally. They travel through every layer and reach every cell. Every tone produces a specific vibration, its own microscopic massage. Like the proverbial water drops dissolving a stone, these delicate micro-movements of sound touch whatever has become stuck, and invite it to soften. A state of deep, waking relaxation results, in which you have direct influence on all parts of your being, and blockages and stress dissolve. In this loosened state, the body can realign and balance itself, unfurling its natural healing powers and putting them to optimal use.
Playing the bowls in a particular way can produce an effect that synchronizes the two halves of our brain. This synchronization awakens potential for greater perception, and multifunctional capabililties. When you dive into these sounds, your brain tunes itself to the wavelengths of these vibrations. Since these fall mostly in the Alpha range (about 8 to 13 vibrations per second), you will very quickly be guided into deep relaxation. In this state of release, the vibrations bypass your conditioned thinking mind. Here it is easy to be the observer of your thoughts, maybe even completely undisturbed by them, and to sink into something we might call your true, or deeper, Self.
In this Alpha zone, awareness turns mainly inward as in meditation. Here it is easy to access intuition, and deep feelings of ease, joy and happiness. If the bowls are played so that primarily Theta frequencies (about 4 to 8 vibrations per second) arise, and if the brain entrains with these frequencies, we come to a profoundly relaxed state which we rarely experience consciously. As children we lived almost entirely in this Theta state, but as adults, we are nearly always in a Beta state. The Beta range of brain vibrations is the domain of worry, stress, and the fight-or-flight reflexes. Attention is directed mostly toward the outside world, and the body cannot develop its natural capacity for self-healing.
In Nada-Yoga, the one, all-encompassing, consciousness is conceived as sound. Our ears cannot hear tones above or below a certain frequency range. Frequencies outside this range can only be perceived subjectively, as inner sound, in the same way that we might feel very low bass vibrations in the belly. To experience this, and to integrate the experience into daily life, significantly expands our perceptual capabilities. Anyone who has ever watched a deaf person “listening” to music has surely felt touched, and can recognize how limited our ordinary senses are. A Nada Yogi experiences the entire universe as a projection of vibration, as if the world is unfolding from the singular source of sound.
The natural vibrational behaviors of all aspects of the body – including the etherial chakras, nadis and meridians – are supported by tones. The Nada-Yoga sadhana [practice] helps you to become aware of this essential, finest, and innermost sound, or vibration. Methods include breath – which we can also see as rhythm – as well as pranayama, mudras, and the synchronisation of brain hemispheres (Hemisync™). All these methods help us to recognize who we are, at our core. Essentially, the aim of the Nada-Yoga sadhana [practice] is to penetrate to the original, finest, innermost sound: to the shabda, or innermost word.
Music is an aspect of Nada-Yoga. Earlier, there was a more precise correspondence between musical development and the Nada-Yoga teaching. Pranayama breathing exercises form an important preparatory part of this method.
About a hundred years ago, seer, Edgar Cayce, wrote: “The future of healing is vibration, and the future is now.” So how can we include and apply this perspective in daily life? How can we activate our own powers of self-healing? This is some of what I address in my workshops, trainings, crystal-bowl meditations and private sessions. An important component of a Nada-Yoga session – whether individual or group – is Sound-Diving. With the sounds of the crystal bowls, we dive into the depths of Being. To experience oneself in this realm of vibration, without the diversion of thought, is essential to seeing with the heart. It opens the cage of the mind. In this state there is nothing to realize, nothing to reach. It simply is, and it is also you. Anyone who has been in this state wants to return, because it feels like going home. In India, they call this state bliss. There is nothing to do, fulfill, or judge. I believe we have all already been in this state, and sometimes yearn to return there. As this state is here and now, we cannot reach it with the thinking mind. Simple logic – but here logic ends. Now cannot be understood, because the moment you try to understand it, it’s gone!
This point is precisely the connection between Sound-Diving and Nada-Yoga. Nada-Yoga is the umbrella term for the yoga of vibration, the yoga of sound. The word “nada” comes from the Sanskrit root “na” and means something like current, or process of awareness. The beautiful thing about Nada-Yoga is that the level of your vibration is lifted without effort. In fact, effort would bring it down. The purpose of most types of Yoga is to make the Self visible. And it is not easy to describe with words the oneness that is beyond duality. Words – which belong to duality – fail, here.
So this state, which you cannot “reach,” and which is already there, just needs some light in order to become visible. Of itself, it requires nothing, but simply lets you delight in peace and happiness beyond duality. This Self-state, so say all the wise ones, is always in you – only we are somewhere else.
Sound-Diving can lead to the place in you where you feel as one, where you can feel happy and at peace, the place where you are your Self, and need nothing from the outside in order to be complete. Your Self beyond all conditioning. Here is the place to experience unconditional love.
In day to day life, we mostly use our capacity for thinking. All too often the heart takes second place. Sensing the heart vibration, which, for most of us, is hidden deep within, is a significant part of Nada-Yoga. The heart and the earth have a similar frequency, and when we resonate with the heart vibration, we pollute neither our plant, nor our own energy system.
“All life is vibration, all life is yoga,” said the wise poet and yogi, Sri Aurobindo, a hundred years ago. When our perception is connected with our surroundings, we vibrate together in harmony, and strengthen each other. We all know how much good it does our hearts to be in harmony, inside and out. Sound-Diving is a unique and powerful support for this process.