A Response to a great article by Edward John
NSR Meditation is a great article that presents a simple, powerful meditation technique for relaxation and stress relief. I have two things to add to it: A simple Heart Coherence technique, and even more powerful (but harder to master) internal energy flow techniques.
I tried making these notes in a comment on Edward John’s article, but the comment-window kept closing! So I’m quoting the most relevant bits below, and linking to this article in a comment.
Note: This article contains Amazon affiliate links.
NSR and the Headless Way
To my mind, here are the most important bits that Edward John wrote:
NSR stands for Natural Stress Relief. It is far more powerful than its normal-sounding name would suggest. Yet it’s extremely simple and requires no effort.
It’s actually a much cheaper version of the expensive Transcendental Meditation and was started in 2003 by a former TM teacher. Apart from one or two minor differences, it’s basically the same effortless but powerful process. Twice a day, you sit quietly with your eyes closed and think a sound in your mind without putting in any effort.
By effortlessly thinking a meaningless sound, the mind and body naturally sink into a deep state of rest. During this state of restful consciousness, stress is released.
I also recommend The Headless Way, but it depends on what your goal is. If you want to awaken to who you really are, The Headless Way is the quickest and easiest path. If you want to reduce stress, become calmer, happier, and live a more fulfilling life, NSR is the way.
I don’t think there is much else in the article, but what he wrote is simple, helpful, and compelling. In short, it motivated me.
What follows is an expanded version of the comments I tried to write.
Thanks for giving me some insight into the TM technique, Edward (John?). I’ve long wondered what that technique was about. And thanks for the link to NSR and the Headless Way. I’ll check them out. In return, I want to offer you two additional techniques:
- Heart Coherence
- Energy Flow Meditation
To start with. though, I’ll offer a summary of the NSR technique, for others who are as curious about it as I was. (It does seem promising. I looked at the “headless way”, as well, but I didn’t find anything memorable, or very useful — at least, not for me. Others may find it helpful, so by all means take a look.)
The Natural Stress Relief (NSR) Technique
Here’s what I learned when I went to look for information on NSR:
- The technique is supposed to be practiced twice a day for 15 minutes each time. You may find that the techniques described here produce incredible results much more quickly than that! (On the other hand, after practicing them diligently for years, perhaps it is simply the case that I reawaken an “exalted” state that much more rapidly than I once did. :__)
- This Reddit page has a comment by MyNameIsJonaas that gives a nice summary of the technique: “Basically what you’ll learn is to deeply relax by repeating a mantra while not trying to control your thoughts, breathing or emotions. This is meant to put you in a deep meditative state which will help you release stress.” (In addition to many other benefits of personal & spiritual growth!)
- As for the sound itself, an interesting hint comes from this Reddit page, in a comment made by CrumbledFingers: “If the instructions as written make sense to you, and you know that the syllable is something that rhymes with “Tom” or “palm”, you’re probably just fine.” (The one rhyming Sanskrit word that comes to mind is H’am (“I am”), as in Shivo H’am (“I am Shiva”) or So H’am (“I am that”). All three of them resonate with me.)
I recently learned about HeartMath Quick Coherence technique— a simple process that opens the heart so it resonates with and communicates better with the brain. I have found that technique to be a great addition to my own meditation practice, and one that helps throughout the day.
The official site describes it as a two-step technique, but I prefer the 3-step description I got from Gregg Braden, whose video introduced to me to it:
- Focus your mind on your heart. Become aware of it in your chest.
- Focus your breathing on your heart. Slow your breathing in a natural, effortless way, so it approaches a 5-beat inhalation and 5-beat exhalation.
(In essence, breathe from your heart, slowly and deeply.)
- Generate the emotion of gratitude, appreciation, caring, or compassion.
a. As you focus on your breathing, let your heart give you the rhythm
of the beats.
b. As your breathing slows, the heart beat slows as well, until a beat is
occurring once a second or so.
c. Ten breaths per minute (10 hertz) is the natural rhythm of coherence. That is about 6 seconds per breath.
d. The small, natural pauses between inhalation and exhalation further
slow the breath, helping you to get into the state of “coherence”.
The eight years I spent in intensive martial arts training was about opening the heart. In many ways, it was a Bhakti Yoga practice of heart-opening devotion, in addition to mental discipline and physical conditioning.
That practice was both powerful and beneficial. But even though that practice was all about “energy”, I never really learned to generate internal energy, the way I learned to do later on.
It took many years after that to discover how to generate that energy and watch it as it flows through my body, mind, and spirit. But still, something was missing. I could never get my heart open quite as fully as it had (at times) during my martial arts practice.
Energy Flow Meditation
I have found that the Heart Coherence technique melds perfectly with the internal energy-flow techniques I have learned (and at times discovered), and aspire to teach — so I am excited to see if the NSR and Headless Way techniques can also augment my practice.
Those internal-energy techniques are simple once you learn them, but mastering them requires some effort and practice. And there is a lot to learn!
I wrote one book, Bench Yoga, on the most fundamental part of a meditation practice: Sitting comfortably, and acquiring the specific combination of strength and flexibility required to maintain your posture, so you can sit comfortably, for lengthening periods of time. (That book also introduces the reader to the world of internal energy flows using external practices like isometrics, isotonics, and a specific method for performing asanas.)
An entire second book (in progress) is devoted to meditation — what it is, different ways to do it, and what you can get from it.
Along those lines, I greatly appreciate that you took the time to add “awaken yourself to who you really are” to your article, Edward. Because meditation is about much more than stress relief. It’s about (or at least, it can be about) connecting to the greater energy of the universe.
A third book is devoted to internal-energy/chakra-activation techniques. As you become adept at generating and perceiving the resulting energy flows, you begin to perceive yourself as an energy being. When that happens, you become aware of yourself as an individual droplet in an ocean of energy — especially when you begin to understand that the predominant force in the universe is electricity, and the magnetism it generates.
The “Electric Universe” (aka “Plasma Universe”), or EU model is the subject of a whole ‘nother book. That Universe paradigm has the capacity to explain a whole lot more than a gravity-centric model. The Electric Universe site has a great summary, despite a horrible graphic layout and colors that make it almost unreadable.
The counter-argument to that theory is stated in this article. It does a fair job of pointing to parts of the EU model that fail to match measurements we can actually make. Those are excellent criticisms. Unfortunately, the article fails to mention the many areas in which the electric universe model has great explanations that a gravitational model can’t match — including the shape of galaxies and solar systems, the way “craters” on the moon and other planets are actually formed, how some of the Earth’s most intriguing geology results from “electrical scarring” , and much more — all of which can be demonstrated and seen in the laboratory — as opposed to the “mathematical speculation” that forms so much of today’s theoretical physics.
But this part of the article is not so much about the validity of the Electrical Universe model, as it is about energy-flow meditation. Let’s get back to that…
I learned the basic energy-activation techniques from a combination of Ipsalu Tantra Yoga (which pushes kundalini upward from the base of the spine), and Ananda Raja Yoga (which draws energy upward from the top of the spine).
To took nigh onto 30 years to get that far! But in the several years of ever-deepening practice that came after that, I began to receive inspiration from wherever it is that inspiration comes from — inspirations that have expanded my practice immeasurably, that I aspire to share to with others.
As mentioned, I have found the HeartMath Coherence technique to be a great addition to that practice. It opens the massive energy center at the center of the spine, and reawakens the full-time gratitude meditation that brought me my first experience of actual enlightenment, during my martial arts training.
Adding that technique to my repertoire means that I regularly open the major energy centers in my heart, head, and physical being when I sit to meditate. It is a wonderful, happy-making experience — one that is generally described as bliss.
So again, Edward John, I thank you for your article, and for the links you shared. I hope you find the information I have shared to be helpful, as well.
Eric Armstrong is the author of Bench Yoga (volume 1 of the Subtle Energy Yoga series) and the creator of the “Instant Alignment” Yoga Meditation Bench. A former volleyball coach, martial arts instructor, and “internal yoga” practitioner, Eric Armstrong has spent 30 years studying the internal energy arts, with practices as varied as Ipsalu Tantra Kriya Yoga, Ananda Raja Yoga, traditional Kriya yoga, Bihar Raja Yoga, Taiji, and Korean Jung SuWon. He works to convey his deep understanding of the subject in a series of workshops, online articles, and in his books, available in print and eBook form at Amazon, or wholesale from Ingram. (If you like this kind of article, consider supporting Eric on his Patreon page.)