Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How sound can help quiet the mind...

In my first YT Blog I pondered the question of why we love music so much and how it supports yoga and our spiritual practice.  In this second entry I am beginning to explore reasons why or how music, or sound for that matter, might help us quiet the mind and aid in the process of awakening.  There are at least three ways I have come to realize yoga music might help end our discursive thoughts, and no doubt there are more.

First, certain sound frequencies are said to be spiritual in their own right.  They are said to cause the human mind to resonate at a frequency that puts us in touch with deeper levels of consciousness.  Then the loud and distracting (not to say annoying) mind stream becomes quiet.  Several videos featuring these frequencies are posted on You Tube and they are quite soothing.  Some, like the one located at the following link, are said to also activate chakras or the pineal gland.  It has a nice kaleidoscopic visual with it. 


 Probably, the truth is as we focus the attention on any single thing, be it a tone or a candle flame or the breath, the mind settles down or seems to as our attention is turned away from the inner dialogue.  But this attention is not easy to hold.  Zen practitioners know this, who use counting of each breath as a means to turn the attention from the distraction of discursive thought.  At first, one might make it only to 5 or 10 before the grocery list or the tape of an old argument kicks in.

These sound tones are also excellent for focusing attention for a few minutes.  But, this is just a tone at one frequency.  Music we know moves from note to note and each different note in a scale is essentially a wave at a different frequency.  In fact, the way multiple frequencies are arranged in order is one component of music, melody, which we admire and enjoy.  Music also has rhythm plus the timbre of various instruments, tempo, and other components.  So the single frequency approach doesn’t really account for why music as a whole might help us to awaken.  

Some cynical people also might wonder (I wonder) if we are expected to believe that just buying a CD or downloading a track of a certain frequency and listening to it can bring one to awakening or Samadhi.  A few people seem to awaken spontaneously, but for most the process of transformation requires considerable effort.  I can believe it might give one an experience of peace or quietness that could be part of one’s practice or upon which one could build.  However, it still doesn’t completely account for the attraction and effect of music.  There must be something more to it.  

Check out Bodhiron's playlist @ the YogiTunes Music Store!

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