Sound can be used as a tool to discover a life that is more meaningful, whole, coherent or naturally happy. This article speaks simply to the meaning of natural happiness, and how sound can be used alongside mindfulness in the process of healing.
Natural happiness is a happiness that is not achieved, from material object, from the right people or from the right situation. It does not need money, or the right location, or doing the right thing in the world, or being the right person, to be expressed. If we try hard to attain natural happiness, we will gain stress. If we try to find natural happiness, it will allude us. It is given to the world very simply from within us, and allowed to be given. It is something that we can easily and directly experience, and learn to express with skillful means of attention.
Because we tend, instead, to focus on mundane acts that are not fulfilling, or on other emotions that are not joyful, and often get entangled in those lesser or complex emotions, it can be more difficult to feel an inherently happy state, or even believe such a thing can easily exist for us. We can easily get lost, confused by these other thoughts or emotions, and think they are our 'normal' state, whereas our actual, inherent nature is quite happy. Within many traditions, we hold inherent states of goodness, joy, happiness within us. It is our inherent nature. The rich awareness that arises from focusing our awareness on this inherent nature can be most satisfying, fulfilling and healing in nature. Indeed, inner fulfillment is what most of us seek to achieve in our lives, though we may name it in many other ways.
Sound is a tool that enhances or magnifies inner states of awareness. When we understand this, all it takes is to be simply mindful of the inner state we seek to achieve, and rest in that, while creating sounds alongside those inherent states. Because we are conscientiously creating sounds while focusing on positive states of awareness, we amplify, magnify, and even magnetize these states towards us. We increase the effectiveness of the meditative state alone, in large part because it is resonating throughout us, and thus, literally, emanating from us into the space around us. As a sounder, it will readily affect others around us, as well. It becomes a simple process or practice most of us can do with little effort, as the inner positive state arises from the inherent nature of who we are; and sound assists in realizing and sustaining such a positive state within us.
The process becomes simple. If we want joy, think of joy, allow it to arise from within, rest within it. Then bring sound into the landscape, such as singing a crystal bowl or ringing a Tibetan bell in unison with that feeling state, or state of awareness. You can easily use your voice this way as well, whether singing a traditional or contemporary song, chanting, or 'toning,' which is considered by many a much more free and liberating form of singing. The practice fundamentally comes by simply resting in that state, allowing happiness or joy to arise. A simple Buddhist technique, is to rest in a state of spaciousness, stillness, or silence, focusing in the heart center, throat, or third eye, and letting a feeling of that spaciousness, stillness or silence permeate through our being. It is understood, that in so doing, our inherent goodness, and happiness or joy will arise from within that. Insight, rich awareness, and wisdom will also arise. If we continue to rest in it, it becomes self-nourishing, fulfilling, even luminous. This is the wisdom of this exercise. These are teachings that come specifically and directly from these rich wisdom traditions.
A key lesson to allow natural happiness arise, in order to call upon it at any time, is learning to let go. When we try to grasp a situation, to hold on, we are naturally developing tension. When we try hard to bring happiness to light within us, we may feel a little bit of it, but it will be like a small flame alongside the mighty wind of strain we are developing. To arrive in a place of natural joyfulness and radiance, is a mystery, because it is not a place or a thing to perceive and come to. It is by the very letting go of grasping, that the mind relaxes, that thoughts relax, tension relaxes, and natural happiness may spontaneously arise. The experience is of awareness expanding into itself, to know itself, and discover the natural radiance within, without shape or location.
As our minds begin to let go, the energetic force behind negative emotion may still arise with us. These are the past attachments we are holding onto, the fears, frustrations, sorrows and longings. We may want to stop letting go in order to take care of these energetic forces. They all may feel too much to handle, and we may experience great confusion. Over time, as a meditation practice continues, these emotional forces will naturally be released and transformation may occur. The moment of release is sometimes known as “catharsis”, what many experience as a powerful transformation in their life, where even traumatic events of life may be seen and transformed. Using sound tools may amplify this process, allowing these forces to become released. As sound is vibration, and we are as well vibrating, sound may have the natural effect of clearing out attachments without our real understanding. Letting go is the mechanism of this release and sound the amplifying tool of realization or manifestation. They, then, work collaboratively, effortlessly, cohesively, moving one into the other, sound, and awareness, sound and letting go, much like the yin and yang of consciousness. This experience is as much powerful as mysterious.
The more mindfulness is practiced, the more we become acquainted with the inner states of happiness within us. We begin to know natural joy, and natural happiness very well. It takes root, integrates, and grows, inherently. All it takes then is a little mindfulness to remember, and we may express these states. Using simple sound tools can readily increase the effectiveness of this practice. A great place to start is using a single crystal bowl, or a drum, or even a simple bell. Recall the positive state you wish to express, and allow your attention to rest in that, letting go. Bring sound in union with your inner state, and allow the sound to have its effect. Rejoice!