Is it possible to chant your way to health & wholeness?
The short answer is yes! Since the beginning of time sound vibrations have been used to affect and influence our physical and mental states. This is in fact very ancient knowledge, only rediscovered.
Many ancient cultures use sound as a medium of connection to shift or alter states helping to move beyond perceived limitations or creating a sacred ceremonial space in which to do inner work.
Sound vibrations affect time and space and alter the immediate field in which they are generated. Vedic Pundits knew about the power of sound through their connection to mantras as a vehicle to trace matter back to its source. According to the ancient yogic scriptures known as the Vedas, Om is the ultimate and first mantra. It has no name and no form, and is considered to be the creative force of the universal mind where space and time merge.
The sound “Om‘, when chanted, vibrates at the frequency of 136.1 Hz, which is the same vibrational frequency as the earth probably why it generates a sense of being grounded in our physical presence.
A research article found that the anuswaram (nasal sound) ‘ mmm’ boosts the production of nitric oxide in the body. It is a molecule that our body produces to help its 50 trillion cells communicate with each other by transmitting signals throughout the entire body. Nitric Oxide (NO) is an important regulator and mediator of numerous processes and the cardiovascular system. These include vascular smooth muscle relaxation, resulting in arterial vasodilation and increasing blood flow.
Many mantras which end with the sound ‘mmm’ which not only serves a deeper meditative purpose but induces a relaxed brain rhythm. Arrhythmic brain rhythms are known to affect attention span and concentration levels and generally use up a lot of our vital life force.
James Nestor in his booked titled ‘Breath’ talks about the increased levels of nitric oxide found in the body being related to nasal breathing as opposed to mouth breathing. The level in the body affecting our quality of sleep.
In Australia, recent researchers have discovered the potency of using sound waves to turn stem cells into bone cells, in a tissue engineering advance that could one day help patients regrow bone lost to cancer or degenerative disease. This is way more cost effective and less invasive and pain producing than existing methods used. Read more on the link at the end of the article.
How does singing kirtan or chanting mantras affect the body and mind?
The benefits of singing on the mind includes a relaxed re-focusing of our attention. If our mind is fixated or on repeat play regarding the impressions of the day then this amplifies them and makes that impression stronger and therefore harder to let go of.
The practice of re-directing attention breaks the chain of thought and is a highly effective way to manage and reduce stress.
Mantras are the vehicle of positive, healing, life-affirming sound waves which when interacting with our own potentially discordant ones alters them. The body can heal best when its relaxed. Overworked tissues and restricted organs sap our most valuable life force known as prana or energy. When this happens we feel depleted, lack drive and motivation and can end up in negative downward spirals.
What benefits can I expect?
When you chant mantras your mind releases the positive energy that decreases the
negative thoughts or stress. Chanting mantras is an ancient practice that calms your mind and soul. Scientific studies have found that chanting mantras like om for 10 minutes can decrease anxiety and depressive symptoms in the human body.
Induces alpha brain waves which help to initiate the relaxation response.
Reduced mental distractions which overwhelm the mind.
Emotional stability through engendering feelings of calm
Connecting with a grounded sense of self as chanting drives present time awareness
Strengthens your connection to intuition, a deeper sense of knowing that arises from beyond the senses and mind. In touch with wholeness and the balanced aspects of your nature you can draw energy from it and make decisions with clarity and conviction.
Where do I start with mantra chanting?
One of the universal mantras easily learned is the maha mrityunjaya chanted for overall health and healing and as a collective group practice this is a way we can show up for others in need and direct the vibration generated towards them. In this way a ripple affect is generated out into our communities and towards others.
Pure Yoga hosts regular kirtan and mantra chanting events as-well as one to one tuition at the oceanside home yoga studio in Torbay, Auckland. No prior experience necessary. Click on this link to read more about these monthly events: https://www.pureyoga.nz/community-meditation and one to one tuition
What about kirtan?
Its usually a group practice so don’t worry about trying to sing perfectly, just sing from the heart, putting the inner critic in its rightful place. You can connect with the qualities of the divine, the feeling of the vibrations created or the feeling aspect.
Its a tool to let go, so, get out of your own way and give it a go – you maybe surprised which aspects of yourself express themselves.
Singing kirtan frees the voice and with it tension in the muscles of the throat, jaw and face. It helps to facilitate a meditative experience by re-directing our awareness towards a frequency of health and wholeness. Kirtan involves singing mantras in a call and response format. These are often sung in sanskrit but other languages are also used as its more about generating and using sound to move beyond the intellect. Kirtan can be arousing, stirring up certain emotions, contemplative and inward or energizing. You cant really predict where you will end up which is part of the spontaneity and mystery that it invokes.
Do sound waves exist within us?
If you have repeated the mantra enough and generated enough sound frequency, the frequencies you're creating connect with those found in the universe. This connection brings healing and harmony to your mind, body, and the environment. The yogic chakra or energy system maps different frequencies of the body and mind. The frequency of a particular mantra can be used to assert a specific affect on these centres. Mantra's are a way to directly experience this subtle body, as a tool to navigate and understand them. The science and art of mantra is one that I love to explore and bring into my daily practice.
Wherever you are at on your sound healing journey you can be assured that this is just the beginning of a fascinating and mind expanding journey. Not only does sound heal and balance but it also brings us in touch with the universal rhythms of the environment deepening our relationship with it. Beyond healing and balance is a path of unlocking inherent potential, of freeing the voice, of connecting back to source.
I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes that capture the essence of what this is all about.
We are slowed down, sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music. Albert Einstein.
I look forward to sharing your mantra and kirtan journey with you.
Sing your heart open
Free your mind
Let go and connect with inherent peace
Aum shanti - Pragyadhara
Read more here about the stem cell research here.