Simple Toning Meditation

For instrumental music while reading, choose: hi-fi (broadband) or low-fi.

This simple meditation technique has been consistently effective for me for over 30 years, so I feel good about recommending it. I’m calling it a “toning” meditation because you will be using your voice part of the time.

Meditation can be a nebulous concept.

There’s a fine line between time well spent in a beneficial manner and idle daydreaming. (I consider daydreaming healthy and beneficial too, but it’s altogether different from meditation.) For now, let’s think of meditation as a state of consciousness beyond thought, where you are identified with pure being.

Not many of us can shift into that lofty position on demand at a moment’s notice. We need a tool, an easy technique that helps us get from point A to point B.

Contemplation is a tool of deliberate, directed attention that allows us to access the more subtle states of consciousness experienced in meditation.

“One is not idle because one is absorbed. There is both visible and invisible labor. To contemplate is to toil. To think is to do.” – Victor Hugo (1802-85)

Contemplation infers there is something specific upon which the attention is placed. For this simple toning exercise, we will be pointing our attention toward four areas: breath, vibration, inner sound and light.

First, get comfortable. Loosen any tight clothing. You may lie down or sit up, as you prefer. If you have a tendency to drop off to sleep easily, try sitting up for best results. Take several deep breaths. Inhale through your nose. Fill your lungs to capacity. Hold it for a moment, then exhale completely through your mouth. While exhaling, deliberately release all tension in your muscles. Allow your attention to be drawn to any tightness in your body and release it with your out-going breath. Repeat the deep breaths until your body feels thoroughly relaxed and well oxygenated.

Close your eyes and place your attention at a spot inside your head between your eyebrows. This area is known by many names, including the third eye, seat of the soul, tisra til, eye of the imagination, etc. Gently hold your attention on the blank screen of your mind. Don’t strain. Allow your deep breathing to gradually return to normal.

Now it’s time to begin toning. Traditionally, there have been many different sounds, syllables and phrases used for toning. AUM and OM are common and you can experiment with them, but I’m going to recommend another syllable that is not as well known: “HU”. The word sounds like the man’s name, Hugh . . . or hew. (It rhymes with new and do.)

Here are some of the reasons I like it best after experimenting with several:

1. It’s easy to say with minimum attention. That is, your mouth doesn’t have to move in certain ways to correctly pronounce specific vowel sounds. Instead, you simply breathe out and engage your vocal chords as the air goes by them. Of all the vowel sounds, a-e-i-o-u, the hard “u” sound is easiest to make with a very relaxed throat and mouth.

2. The ooh part of the HU is very natural sounding and is a pleasant tone. It sounds musical. When this exercise is done with someone else, or with a group, the notes can blend together easily for a pleasant, calming effect.

3. The HU tone can be sustained with very little breath. As you continue to become more relaxed, your breathing naturally slows and gets more shallow. Even with this minimum amount of breath, it’s easy to maintain the tone as you exhale.

Begin toning with the word HU. Experiment with your voice, saying it in a lower tone, then a higher tone until you find where it feels the most natural and relaxed. Every voice is different, so the objective is to find the best pitch for your voice. It should be easy, requiring very little effort to sustain the note for a few seconds as you exhale slowly.

Continue singing the HU song with each exhalation as you settle into an ever-increasing state of peace and relaxation. Your mind will likely be bouncing all over the place, chasing thoughts here and there. Whenever you notice your attention engaged by a train of thought, gently bring it back to the spot behind your forehead, between your eyebrows.

Listen to the sound of your voice and feel the vibration in your body. Listen closely . . . deeply . . . and you will be able to detect the sensation of vibration in your neck and head. Feel it in your bones. Experience vibrating. Become one with this inner motion. Enjoy how it feels.

Physicists, yogis and shamans tell us physical matter is a convincing illusion. If you look carefully enough and deep enough, it’s all just energy vibrating at different frequencies. When you are singing this HU song, you are initiating a powerful vibration to help calm the body and focus the mind. You are setting your own tone, choosing your own vibration, from the inside out. This as a very different approach than merely reacting to whatever vibrations reach you from your external environment.

“Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit.” – Jeremy Taylor (1613-67)

As you continue to relax, your breathing will continue to become slower and more shallow. Eventually, you will feel like taking a break from singing HU. Keep your attention on your breath. In and out. In and out. Don’t control it. Don’t direct it in any way. Just watch it.

The reason to keep your attention on your breath is to enable you to get a little distance from your thoughts. Ordinarily, we are consumed by them. They go on and on, until it’s easy to identify with them and think that thoughts are who we are.

Remember at the beginning of this article, we defined meditation as a state of consciousness beyond thought, where you are identified with pure being. Breath is an ideal object of contemplation because it is so ethereal. It’s not exactly physical. It’s of the air — invisible, subtle. Thoughts come and thoughts go, but your breathing continues. As you watch this fascinating process, you realize your breath needs no help from you. It just happens . . . all by itself. “You” are not breathing. It’s more like your breath is breathing you.

Witness how it works. When thoughts show up, clamoring for your attention, just notice them. Don’t try to stop them or control them or judge them, and don’t get upset with yourself when you notice a new train of thought captured your attention five minutes ago. Even when it takes awhile to notice you’re off on some tangent idea, gently return your attention to your breath and just watch.

At this point, your HU song and exercise in contemplation has brought you to the threshold of meditation. You are watching your breath, watching your thoughts, and are now in the best position to ask yourself, “Who is this watcher?”

You are not your thoughts. You are not your breath. You are this focused point of awareness, pure being.

This is the point, the pay-off, the primary objective of meditation, contemplation and all the other techniques of personal evolution — to experience this state of being directly. Allow the experience to permeate to the core of your being. It is often accompanied by spontaneous waves of joy and gratitude.

Grab it when you can and ride it as long as possible because it’s often a fleeting experience. There are so many distractions, so many thoughts and so many things requiring our attention, this brief brush with home base can be rare . . . but invigorating, inspiring and nurturing.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

This simple toning technique is most effective when repeated three times with periods of quiet introspection between the three cycles. After awhile, you will become very still and may feel ready to go deeper.

Repeat the process, beginning with a few deep breaths. Do the toning again. Sing the HU song. After the cycle of toning passes, become still again.

This time, listen very closely to internal sounds. You will hear the sound of your breath. You may be able to hear your stomach growling or gurgling. Listen more closely. You may be able to hear your heartbeat. More closely still . . . you may be able to hear your blood moving through your neck, close to your ears.

Continue to sink deeper into relaxation and listen more deeply. Listen for inner vibration, an inner tone. Sometimes it sounds like the single note of a flute. Or, it can sound like a certain frequency — one steady pitch vibrating somewhere deep inside, between your ears.

With practice, this inner tone can be accessed almost any time. It’s easier to hear when your surroundings are quiet, but with practice, you can find it even when it’s not so quiet.

“Who is the listener, who sits in the stillness and knows
And who is the looker, who notices the king wears no clothes
Who is the seer, who sees beyond the mind
And who is the seeker, who finds…. . The grand design”
- from the song, “Who is the Watcher” by Tupelo Kenyon

This inner tone, like the breath, is another excellent object of contemplation. Like the breath, it’s always there, once you’ve learned to hear it. And like the breath, it’s not exactly physical . . . it’s also rather ethereal — another ideal direction for your attention while exploring deeper states of conciousness.

When you are ready, repeat the process a third time. The entire process can be done in about twenty minutes. If you have the time and you are getting good results, you may want to linger longer.

Deep breaths. Sing HU. Be still. As you keep your inner gaze fixed on a point inside your head, behind your forehead, between your eyebrows, you may get to enjoy an internal light show. It may be gentle washes of color, or geometric shapes, or movement of light and color. Just watch and notice the patterns on the inner screen of your mind.

You are not the patterns. You are not the thoughts. You are the watcher.

Again, physicists, yogis and shamans tell us our senses translate information from the outside world via light and sound. Both are vibration, the energy of the universe manifesting itself in different ways . . . vibrating at different rates within the very narrow spectrum that we are able to detect with our senses.

This simple toning meditation using the HU song allows us to experience the vibration of the universe in ever more subtle layers. It relaxes the body, takes you beyond the mind, and allows us to get in touch with who we really are — pure being, the watcher — the awareness who sits in the silence and knows.

While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.

Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.

Related Songs
Ten Purdy Word Song
The style and mood of the song matches the flow of the words themselves, painting a colorful word picture that is easy on the ears.

Who is the Watcher
Explores the silent witness within and the idea that life occurs in this present moment. Always.

Blue Water
Water and the sea are such perfect metaphors for the larger reality we are all immersed in.

Songs by Tupelo

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This is the end of the article entitled Simple Toning Meditation published by Tupelo Kenyon on February 9, 2007 at 8:00 am | In Awareness, Meditation - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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