Yogi Bhajan, responsible for bringing Kundalini Yoga to the West, taught a very powerful meditation using the syllable of “HAR”. I’d like to share it with you.
- First put your hands together in front of you, back to back like a reverse “Namaste” or prayer pose. But then let them relax and curl in toward your heart as if pointing to yourself with both hands, thumbs extended upward. They should be at the level of your sternum.
- You may close your eyes or keep them gently focused on the tip of your nose.
- Now begin to repeat the sound HAR over and over (it should almost sound like “HUD” as you roll the final R) and feel the sound through the fingertips as the chest moves with the sound.
Resound this sound in the heart cage and reap the benefits as Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and Mercury, represented by each of your fingers, come into balance while your thumb–ego–remains out of the picture!
After chanting aloud, you may then chant in a whisper transitioning into toning inwardly, in silence, before returning once more to toning aloud. Try this for three minutes working your up to eleven minutes or more and see how you feel.
- Toward the end, stretch your arms over head and spread your fingers wide while continuing to resound the sound of HAR. Stretch your arms and spine to equalize and distribute the energy for about 30 seconds.
- Bring your arms down, and form a double-handed fist at your heart. Inhale, hold the breath, and press your hands into your heart. Hold. Release.
- Now bring your fist to your navel. Breath in. Press as hard as you can. Hold. Release.
- Finally, bring your arms close to your body, your fists at armpit level. Breath in. Squeeze your arms into your sides and your fists tightly as you hold. And release.
Yogi Bhajan taught that resounding the sound of HAR in the chest cage in this way is one of 6 sounds that can give one the power of the Universe. It will kill the unwanted self. Enjoy!
Are you all feeling the amping of energies lately just as I am? Astrologically, we are in very interesting times. Time itself seems to be speeding up, information (and misinformation) is a constant onslaught, and change is not only imminent but mandatory. We’re all being asked to up our game. If we don’t take time out to empty and find our way back to neutral, we’re going to have a harder and harder time keeping up.
Toning is such a great way to clear your mind, body, and spirit of all the brouhaha. Even if you practice the following technique just minutes a day, you’ll feel the impact.
This particular exercise is adapted from one I learned from my mentor, Dr. Gene Nathan. It consists of three sounds and three centers:
Om dan tien (or lower belly)
Begin by placing your hands on your heart. Tone the sound ‘Ah’ aloud on any comfortable pitch. Do this three times. Then move your hands to your dan tien. Here you will tone the sound ‘Om” with an emphasis on the ‘mmm’. Do this at a lower pitch than the ‘ah’. Finally, place your hands on your forehead. Here, you sound a ‘Shh’. Repeat this cycle, three times at each center, for at least three cycles.
After each tone, notice how your energy is shifting. Take your time. Notice especially the connection that occurs between each center, each helping to reinforce and strengthen the others. And notice how the ‘shh’ quiets the rattled mind. Enjoy!
The majority of us spend a lot of time in our minds. Even having spent years silencing the mind through meditation, the function of the mind never really goes away. It may get quieter, and we may have better control over our thoughts, but it is a very rare individual who can live the majority of their lives in that quiet state.
Working with the mental body can train it so that it takes up less and less of our energy and instead becomes a source of it. The Toltec liken it to the mind becoming our ally instead of our enemy. Meditation in general is the best practice for training the mind. Vocal Toning Meditation, through the use of sound, makes it easier for many people to quiet the mind.
First, sit in meditative silence for five minutes. You can be in any posture that is comfortable for you. Pay attention to how you feel, what thoughts are drifting through, whether or not you find them easy to release or not, etc. Focus on stilling the mind.
Then shift. Sit for an additional five minutes, but as you do so, tone the sound UNG. It is a nasal tone that resonates in the head. As you do this, pay attention to the energy of the sound, the space of silence between as you inhale, and how your mind and body are responding.
Now stop. Breathe. Notice any thoughts. What has shifted? How did sitting in silence compare to sitting with the tone of UNG?
Want to have some fun?
Check out the Fanfare at audepicault.com.
May I suggest you do some vocal toning with it?
- I was inspired after watching the movie Avatar for the second time recently to try something new in my toning group today. It was an experiment that went quite well, so I thought I’d share it with you.
In the movie, there is a scene when the tribal people are offering a healing to the dying scientist. In the scene, they are sitting cross legged in circles around this magical tree, each person with his or her arms around the shoulders of the neighbor to the right and left. They are swaying back and forth in unison while singing a sacred healing chant.
I adapted this moving idea for Toning for Peace. At the Light Center in Black Mountain, the geodesic dome has a vortex right in its center. So we made a circle around that sitting cross legged on the floor. We discussed out intent…what it was we wanted to create or evoke with our sounding. We sat close enough together so as to put our arms around one another’s shoulders. Some folks weren’t physically comfortable with this, so they had the option to place their hands on the neighbor’s knees instead. Obviously, this wasn’t meant to be an exercise in discomfort!
We then practiced moving in a circle with the energy flowing first left to right and then right to left. We waited to sense the natural shifting of the energy currents.
Once we felt ready, we closed our eyes, focused on our intent to celebrate love and balance, and began to OM. I had spoken earlier about how to OM, that one should give equal time to the O and the M. I also mentioned that it didn’t have to be one long, sustained OM but could be a pulsing series of short OMs.
The exercise was beautifully meditative; the combination of movement, touch or connection, and sound was powerful. It unified the group in a magical way quite quickly.
One person did suggest afterward that it be done standing up. I’m sure this would have been fine too and more comfortable for certain folks. So, as always, be flexible with how toning practices are done. Honor the body, not the idea.
Do you have a toning idea to share?
For a child, being free with the voice is a natural thing. We animate our dolls and trucks. We laugh and make sounds freely. As we get older, it is no longer okay to make strange, silly sounds. We have to be serious. When things do escape our lips, others look at us like we have two heads (unless we have the privilege of playing with children and hiding behind such an excuse). But play is a means to freeing our voice and our creativity. It shouldn’t stop altogether or change just because we reach a certain age.
Here is an fun exercise in voice play I’ve often used in Toning groups and a great party game.
Think of a phrase and say it with the group. For example, “I love chicken feathers in my soup.” The sillier the better!
- Repeat the phrase aloud normally.
- Now say it in different ways. Try whispering it like it is a very big secret you don’t want others to hear…or maybe a secret you really do want others to hear. Notice any difference?
- Now yell it at the top of your lungs. What does that feel like?
- Say it in a very deep voice. Come on ladies; you can do it!
- Say it in a very high voice. Gentlemen, it’s only a game!
- Say it as fast as you can. Oh, come on! Faster!
- Say it both high and fast, like you’ve just inhaled helium.
- Now say it high and very slow, like you’re slowly emptying of helium. What are you feeling?
- Say it low and fast, like a tribal cartoon character.
- Now say it low and very slow, like a broken tape-recorder. Having fun?
If you tried this alone, good for you! Your inner child is now glowing. If you tried this with friends, even better for you! Nothing like laughing your head off with people you love!
One of my favorite quotes of all time is from a philosopher named Herbert Whone who wrote: “Humanity has been enchanted–sung to sleep. In the depths of that condition, we are given the capacity to make our own sound, which is in effect a means of escape, a way of breaking the spell.”
This quote reminds me what the true purpose of vocal toning is. It is a means of awakening from the influence of the dream. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, just as we are about to approach the Emerald City of Enlightenment, we fall under the spell of sleep in a field of poppies…two steps from the door. The practice of toning is our alarm clock. It reminds us the shake off the effect of our complacency and do the inner work. It reminds us that the path is strewn with temptations and obstacles and fears, so by all means, hum a tune. It reminds us that we have within us the capacity to take those two extra steps despite our need for comfort and familiarity. Toning gives us the smarts, the heart, and the courage to keep going.
So the next time you feel yourself getting pulled under, take just a few moments to literally “tune” in. Consider the illusion you are being asked to buy into and choose to remain awake. Use your voice like a shield and create a vibratory field of protection around yourself using an OM, AH, OO, EE, or whatever feels right to you. “You’re out of the woods, you’re out of the dark, you’re out of the night….”
Ready to settle down for the night and want a toning exercise that will quiet the mind and help prepare you for restful sleep? Give AH-OM-HUM a try.
It is very similar to AUM or OM, but there is a subtle yet powerful difference. These three syllables are a purification practice, perfect for releasing the day and all its constructs and entering the dreamtime.
Rather than toning AH-U-MM or OH-M, you are toning the three sounds, AH, OM and HUM (pronounced HOOM) in sequence all on one breathe to the end of a single exhalation. On the inhalation, rest and reverberate the sound in your mind. Then begin again with sounding on the exhalation.
Some of you may be familiar with the Buddhist mantra OM AH HUM. The sounds serve the same function. They just do so in a different order. I learned AH-OM-HUM in my trainings in Yungdrung Bon. You can experiment for yourself and find the sequence that works for you. Each way you do it will stimulate different aspects first.
The voice is by far the most versatile and sensitive of all the sound therapy modalities, and the range of healing offered is as individual as those who facilitate it. There are voice healers who help clients access their own voices either through singing, toning, chanting, speaking, or even movement. One needn’t be a “singer” to take part in this type of experience, but for those who are a little shy about singing solo, there are toning groups or workshops offered by practitioners. The results of such vocal exploration can be greater confidence to express oneself, richer vocal qualities, purer and more effective communications, stress-reduction, and an experience of joy.
A therapist may also use his or her own voice to help others. For example, a therapist may sculpts sounds by sensing subtle energy needs and matching or contrasting various frequencies that help a person move energy in various parts of the body. Still others may sing improvised melodies or lyrics that relate to healing a certain memory or experience in the client’s life.
Voice Analysis is another branch of voice healing with many variations. The premise for voice analysis is that changes in pitch, volume and speed of the expressed voice reveal strengths, weaknesses, and imbalances of the individual. These deficiencies are then brought into balance using frequencies or tones and exercises that can help by restoring the voice to its full power. Whether performed by a computer or a practitioner, voice analysis can bring a new awareness to the potential of one’s voice, our greatest tool for self-expression and creation.
There are other specialized modalities in voicework as well, such as Shamanic Voicework and Vocal Toning Meditation.
Next Time: Tibetan Instruments