It’s true that many times certain life experiences may be wrongly associated with Kundalini when in reality they are not! At other times, however, certain spiritual experiences may be mistaken as psychological or physical ailments when in reality they are just the normal Kundalini kriyas in action. I have been caught in similar dilemmas many times during my spiritual journey and I always tackled them with a healthy balance of belief and skepticism…
“Faith and doubt both are needed – not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve” – Lillian Smith
With a little patience and experience, I found that many mysteries would unfold themselves spontaneously if given a little amount of time, while with others the fog may not clear even over a lifetime! For example, there was a time when I would see numerous translucent white dots floating against a sunlit sky and wonder whether they had any association with my spiritual practices; but a few years back, I came across a spiritual forum where people were going gaga about seeing such dots, until one person busted the bubble by sharing the Wikipedia link of ‘Blue Field Entoptic Phenomenon’. That is actually when I came to know about the scientific reason behind those floating white dots even though I already suspected that they might not be related to Kundalini (probably because a few of my other friends could see such dots too!). Similarly, I have been occasionally seeing some glowing white dots (with a comet like tail) which are different from the white dots described above. Compared to the previous ones, these dots are opaque, larger in size but fewer in number, and tend to disappear within a few seconds of appearing. But I’ve also observed that the appearance of such dots has frequently been preceded by a movement of my neck or body. This makes me suspect that there are more chances of these dots being related to my nerves and physiology rather than with Kundalini (even though I am yet to find the exact medical cause for this occurrence).
The point is – I don’t mean to fool myself by considering every extraordinary or esoteric experience (during meditation or otherwise) to be related with Kundalini, neither do I allow my doubts to turn into an instant denial. I always try to maintain a healthy skepticism unless and until there’s no further scope for doubt and even then my mind is always open to alternative explanations, whether I agree with them or not!
Having said that, I will move on to the main matter of this post which deals with an experience that holds a specific meaning in a medical context and a totally different meaning in a spiritual context. On one hand there is Tinnitus (perception of sound within the human ear when no actual sound is present) which is a medical problem and on the other hand there is Nada – the subtle inner sounds which a person perceives only after a certain amount of spiritual progress has been made. As of now, I’m still not sure which one applies in my case!
The first instance of hearing such sounds occurred when certain changes in my meditation had already taken place or were happening spontaneously. However, before I proceed to describe my experiences with Nada (or Tinnitus) I’d like to write a few words about the subtle changes in my Meditation that had been happening, approximately, around the same time:
Ok, so…initially, when I started meditating I would always begin with the chanting of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ in my mind. However, after a few months, even though I would be chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, I would observe that ‘So-Hum’ would spontaneously arise and replace ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ during the course of my meditation. In the beginning, whenever I used to notice such happenings I would consciously stop ‘So-Hum’ and start chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ again. However, I stopped this habit after reading Baba’s advice that if ‘So-Hum’ appeared spontaneously during meditation then it should not be stopped but allowed to go on. Subsequently, over the next few days, ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ got completely replaced by ‘So-Hum’ during meditation and I would start my meditation with ‘So-Hum’ itself.
However, further changes kept happening and after yet another few months ‘So-Hum’ got reduced to just ‘Om’. So, while I would start my meditation by observing ‘So-Hum’, somewhere down the line ‘So’ and ‘hum’ would merge into a single continuous ‘Om’. I keep saying ‘observe’ instead of ‘hear’ because it was not like I was hearing those sounds with my ears, rather those sounds seemed to originate from thoughts and were heard in my mind (like the times when you remember a song and you hear it playing in your mind)…. However, to be able to hear such songs you often have to make a conscious effort to remember them unlike the ‘Om’, which would usually occur spontaneously and effortlessly in my case. So, ultimately my meditation would be (usually) devoid of any other thoughts except for the one that formed the sound of ‘Om’!
It’s a significant fact that subsequently even ‘Om’ disappeared and my meditation proceeded in bouts of complete thoughtless states, only to be replaced by ‘Om’ or some other thoughts whenever I lost my balance. Keeping myself in a thoughtless state is still a task of maintaining a delicate balance- the moment I trip I become aware of my thoughts even if they appear in the form of a sensation (awareness of breathing) or a sound (like ‘Om’ or any external noise)….however, I do have to admit that such thoughtless states are also filled with a completely different kind of bliss…so maintaining that balance ultimately pays off well!
Anyways, while I was enjoying those blissful periods of meditation, one night a strange incident happened. I was watching television with my family and suddenly I began hearing the sound of crickets. I said to my sister – “it seems some insects have got inside our house” and started searching for them. Interestingly, no one else in the room could hear those sounds even when I shut down the television. So, I tried to save my face by boasting that I have really sensitive ears and that may be the crickets were outside in our lawn. I went outside and checked the lawn too but since it was dark I couldn’t find any of them. It became difficult for me to fall asleep that night because I found the constant sounds of crickets quite irritating but when I woke up the next morning, I wasn’t hearing those sounds. I would have dismissed the previous night’s incident as being perfectly normal but then I started hearing those sounds in the afternoon too. That was when I realized that those sounds were not external but within my head!
It’s true that Baba had mentioned about hearing Nada in a few of his books but those didn’t include the sound of cricket (though sounds of bees were mentioned among Nada), neither did I think I had already made so much progress that I would hear a Nada. I was pretty sure that it must be Tinnitus. Then after a few days another sound appeared – it was a heavy rumbling sound …like that of a fast moving train. Sometimes I would hear this sound and sometimes I would hear the sound of crickets. Then a few days later yet another sound appeared – it was like the long aftersound you hear after striking a heavy gong or bell. This is the sound that I hear most frequently even today. The only difference being that these sounds have become quite dull and much less loud over time and therefore don’t cause me any discomfort!(even the shrill noise of crickets has become quite dull over time)
Recently, I did a lot of research on both medicine, health, and spirituality related websites but still I cannot decide about the exact nature of my experience. When I Google the words ‘Tinnitus’ and ‘crickets’ I get a lot of results that prove – patients of Tinnitus may indeed hear sounds of crickets, along with a lot of other sounds. However, there is an evident lack of clarity on the exact causes of Tinnitus which also explains why there is still no definitive treatment for it. All they suggest is to use white-noise to subdue Tinnitus or suck it up and get used to it! Furthermore Tinnitus is more common in elderly people…
On the other hand there are also few other people reporting about hearing such sounds in their head (including the sounds of Crickets) in various spirituality related websites and forums! They associate such sounds with a definite spiritual explanation called Nada.
Although it is easier to believe medical explanations for such sounds, I find that there are indeed a few reasons that offer a strong case towards spiritual explanations of such sounds too!
Firstly my hearing of such sounds began only after around two years of my Kundalini initiation and only after rigorous meditation practices. Secondly, although initially I heard these sound quite loudly, eventually they became dull and subdued so much so that now I do not normally become aware of these sounds unless I turn my attention inwards or unless I make conscious attempts to hear those sounds! Thirdly, I have not witnessed any loss of hearing due to such sounds (as warned against Tinnitus) even though I’ve been hearing these sounds since 2002! However, the strongest support for believing such sounds to be Nada comes from Swami Satyananda Saraswati himself….on the following link on Nada-Yoga he mentions that “The Hamsa Upanishad describes ten types of sounds beginning with the sound of a cricket, and these are supposed to be the sounds normally heard by the practitioner. Everyone has different experiences of sound, so what specific type of sound is heard is not of great importance, but it is indicative of one’s progress”.
Interestingly, I even met a blogger who actually made persistent efforts to start hearing these sounds (Google for Beloved Tinnitus). He also mentioned about hearing the sounds of crickets and firmly believes that they are Nada (in his case, at least). Since, in Kundalini yoga different types of yoga emerge spontaneously…so, who knows it might be true in my case too!
Nevertheless, I’m still hesitant to call it a kundalini experience at this point of time (at least in my case) and I’ll wait till I get an undeniable proof that it is indeed unrelated to Tinnitus (or it is actually a Nada). Till then I’m content in enjoying my spiritual journey as it is! 🙂