re-updated again 1/23/07
AND again 5/20/07
This snoring exercise is a further refinement of earlier ones described in "God's Name is Henri/Henriette" and "Feeding the Baby" and "Carrot 3" in "Enlightenment for The Just Plain Disgruntled" Also view the 3-minute demo I've posted to UTube.
Nirvana is classically defined as the extinction of all aggregates of the self, which include ignorance, craving, clinging, all acts good or bad, all gross sensory-feelings. Nirvana is also where we go every night in deepest sleep when we return to Source to re-energize and heal. Therefore we are buddhas already, although in almost all cases unconscious ones. That's the Catch-22 of human existence. However there are workarounds. Meditation is one of the main traditional and universally accepted methods for achieving extinction while still on the planet, contemplative prayer being another. Various other approaches exist, such as sensory deprivation, chemical or herbal entheogen-ingestion, chanting, trance-dancing, and so forth, but for the most part, none of these allow us a permanent 'awakening while asleep', which the higher realms of meditation do.
Meditation is the process of learning to relax out of our smaller self by entry into deeper and deeper stillness. At the beginning, this may require a conscious effort, an application of the will seemingly in opposition to the relaxation process. This is where many people lose interest. However the restless mind at first must be trained to 'sit' and 'lie down' or given a 'bone' in the shape of a tutelary deity or non-thought or a body process (focus on a sound or the breath). If we persevere, we will experience a first-level relaxation-response energy 'flow' that will encourage us to continue. Many more levels await us, skillfully outlined in Kamalashila's classic work, "Stages of Meditation," and elaborated upon in B. Alan Wallace's very worthwhile and recent (2006) The Attention Revolution. As we progress, we ultimately merge into what some traditions describe as the 'I AM State of Presence' in the center of the brain, or the Buddhist equivalent, 6th Jhana - Universal consciousness -- Tat Tvam Asi -- I Am THAT. Personally I believe that this State of Presence is located in the third ventricle central area of the brain, the 'Great Ocean of the Inner Self' as well as in the biophotons of the circulating spinal fluid. More about that in another essay!
Over time and with practice, we relax into various subtler and subtler 'flow' levels and, finally, into the Nirvana of 'deep sleep.' However this time we enter deep sleep consciously with our compassionate awareness (Kind Regard) turned 180 degrees inward, alert and equanimous.
Contemplative prayer requires a more heart-centered approach. Of course the heart ultimately must awaken whether we approach the Holy of Holies via meditation of some other method. Prayer requires us to pray to someone or somthing, perhaps a tutelary deity, and that includes an established belief structure and perhaps also 'faith' that one's tutelary deity exists -- in other words, a 'religion.' For some people living today, the requirement of a belief structure might prove an obstacle, and for this reason we'll set it aside for the purpose of this essay. Also we'll ignore the other above-mentioned work-arounds because, although they can lead to a temporarily awakened state, they require support (sensory deprivation equipment, drums, music, entheogens, etc.) and thus tie you down to needing more than just one unadorned human body.
The question we then might ask: what characteristics of deep sleep can be evoked while remaining awake to achieve the deep sleep level of the relaxation response? One main characteristic of deep sleep is relaxed, slow breathing. If we practice deeply relaxed breathing, we will note that the back of the soft palate drops slightly and we make the quiet or subvocal equivalent of the 'AWE' sound as we inhale and exhale. If we allow this relaxation to deepen, we move into the 'snore.' Below is one version of a snore exercise. If we smile widely during it, we'll find that we can make both in-and-out sounds without moving the mouth position (the effect is more like a SNARL). So, smiling with slightly clenched teeth, tongue centered between upper and lower jaws:
Inhale and resonate (starting with either or both mouth and nasal cavity) with a vibrating septum and uvula-soft palette and tracheal area:
Exhale (resonating the back of the throat and trachea as in the French, glottal 'R'):
"KURHHH" (You should encourage yourself to feel this low in your chest).
When first beginning, make a good loud sound to place the vibrations and get the feel.
Experiment with various closed/open positions of the mouth to share the breaths between the nostrils and mouth.
Certain positions also will vibrate (motorboat) the lips or the tongue tip slightly on the exhale.
Try doing at least ten loud inhale-exhales, but NEVER do anything that hurts or strains!
Tilting back the head can help both the inhale and the exhale sound come from the same area of the throat without changing the throat/mouth muscles' positions. It may take a few tries to 'locate' both sounds in the same area. As mentioned earlier, smiling also helps position both sounds within the same relaxed throat area.
For a 22-second demo video, click here. Make sure your sound levels are turned up. I posted a more recent video to YouTube titled PURRING TO NIRVANA.
Once the snore is well established and being generated in the relaxed throat area, try lowering the head forward into its normal position while continuing the snore, which can be also lowered in volume to something more like the feline 'purr'. By now a certain warm, bubbly feeling should be spreading through your chest cavity and solar plexus, and your eyes may want to roll up into their sleep 'notch.' Let them do so, focusing on their peripheral vision to 'widen' their inner view. Holding onto the "Cheshire cat grin" will help keep you from falling asleep if you're trying this lying down.
"Okay, wise guy," you say. "I've got the feeling. But what is it?"
The trachea (windpipe) is a stiff tube, not soft and flexible like the esophagus that swallows food. It also lies right behind where the aorta, your main artery, enters the heart, as shown below.
Once your body is all 'a-buzz' with flow, the only thing left to consider is where your bliss tolerance level is set. Bliss tolerance varies from person-to-person, sort of like 'tickle-tolerance.' The location of our personal bliss ceiling has a lot to do with how blissful we were told as children we could allow ourselves to feel, as well as various other external (societal, cultural) controls. We can improve our bliss tolerance in various ways, such as tickling our face with our fingertips up to the edge of the 'Shoo-fly reflex' and sneeze. Also tapping the face around the eyes and nose I find especially relaxing, but for the purpose of this essay I'm going to suggest that we first stick with purifying and dissolving all 'knots' and 'armorings' by purring/snarling. We might call it "purr-i-fying" ourselves.
WARNING: The results of prolonged use are cumulative and may become extrememly blissful, as any purr-fessional singer will tell you. Why do you think the Tibetan lamas chant on such low pitches? To resonate their circulatory systems, silly!
Let me know how this works for you.
CLICK HERE for aother version of the explanation (and the same anatomy chart)