We are living through turbulent, chaotic times. Each and every one of us is experiencing some level of stress, uncertainty and emotional upheaval. It has been a year since the Covid pandemic has upended our lives, and while we are all impacted to a different degree, nobody has been left untouched. Like unpredictable gales of wind, change has been buffeting us by repeatedly leaving us with feelings of insecurity, helplessness and fear.
Human nature is not designed to cope with prolonged periods of intense stress, yet we must weather these storms for as long as they last - there is no way out nor an easy escape route. We have been doing whatever we can in order to muddle through, and most of us will have fallen back on old, instinctual coping mechanisms to ease the tension. We are re-kindling the very habits that soothed our inner turmoil during childhood such as seeking comfort in the presence of loved ones, distraction in the form of books, movies or games, comfort food and sweets, shopping etc. The list can also include coping mechanisms that are destructive, like alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, and compulsive behaviours.
Is there a better way to deal with our current situation? My answer is: there is indeed. I’d like to share one of the many paths available. I have introduced you to the essential elements of Sound Alchemy in my previous blogs and explained what Naad Yoga is and how it can be used. Now, let us bring it all together and consider the ultimate goal of Naad Yoga: Meditation.
I know that meditation is a term that is being plastered almost everywhere, in various contexts and often with little understanding of its original meaning. So, what does it mean to a Naad Yogi?
Meditation means that we are in a state of Oneness with the whole of existence. It is a state where there are no more questions and no past or future - only an eternal “Now”.
Rather than saying “I am doing meditation” or “I follow a meditation practice”, a Naad Yogi works to become meditation itself.
There is a significant difference in approach: in Naad Yoga, meditation is not an active process to control or steer in a particular direction. Instead it is a moment of grace that fills us with bliss and inner peace. It cannot be forced or artificially created and is not limited to moments where we actively seek it. Meditation is a state of being which may even unfold when you are washing the dishes or cleaning the floors – or in any moment where your body, mind and soul are fully present in the here and now.
The practices and rituals that are commonly labelled as meditation in mainstream culture would be called contemplation in the school of Naad. Contemplation is the road to meditation, and regular practice makes the transition to meditation much more likely.
To contemplate means to turn our focus inwards and let our awareness rest on a chosen focal point like certain words, visualizations, sounds, a feeling, a memory etc. In contemplation, we open a space where our mind and soul can enter into a dialogue. This dialogue or internal communication takes many forms, and each is unique to the individual. The important thing is to engage your inner world and allow the conversation to unfold. In the Nanakian school, we use Naad (audible sound) to engage in contemplation. Emotions are carried within sound, just like an electrical charge is carried along a wire. Emotion is therefore the language that is shared by body, mind and soul.
In essence, we attune to the wholeness of our being through contemplation, thereby reaching an internal equilibrium that grounds us in our physicality. At the same time, we become open to a greater reality. The moment we become meditation, we complete the circle and return to our point of origin: we are again one with the creator and one with the ultimate reality.
In such moments, we reach our highest human potential: when we act, it is the creator acting through us; we are without fear and hostility because there is no “other”; we are free of the constraints of time; we step beyond birth and death, beyond male and female, beyond our physical body. Meditation is a moment of grace, the gift that cuts through duality and sets us free.
In times of stress, when we feel lonely, lost and helpless, the best antidote is connection. But before we can make any meaningful connections on the outside, we need to get back in touch with ourselves. Feeling and listening to our emotions, contemplating our experiences with the help of Naad and allowing ourselves to tune into our mind, body, and soul prepares us for those moments when we become meditation. And when we do, all the weight we currently carry on our shoulders, all the trauma and the fears that drag us down while we do our best to carry on no matter what - all of that dissolves for a timeless moment, and we remember who we are. This is how we replenish our strength and rekindle the flame of hope and courage, so we can embrace life and find our smile even when the going gets rough.
There is no magic pill, no shortcut - but meditation is better than medication, don’t you think?