Sound and Mantra
“Sound came first, and then came light.” Every ancient culture believed in the power of sound and its link to health and life itself. Sound reaches down and touches us at an emotional level. We hear music that can immediately set us at ease, or can make us anxious.
Ayurvedic medicine says that the body is held together by sound, and that the presence of disease means that the body is not in harmony. Sound healing is the therapeutic application of sound vibration with the intention of creating a state of health and harmony. “OM” is the seed, or source of all sound, and is the name given to the supreme. OM is present in all other sounds. Sounds can be made with the voice, such as chanting, or from a variety of musical instruments or tuning forks.
The practicing of chanting a mantra is called “Japa” in Sanskrit. When one chants a mantra, the power within us grows, and the power of the mantra grows and becomes one with the chanter. Chanting can be a path toward our inner light. As we chant, we increase our vibration of love and light. Mantra literally means “saving the mind”.
So how do we know what to say in our mantra? A mantra can be a single word, a short simple sentence, or a longer more complex series of sentences. Chanting in Sanskrit is important since Sanskrit is the “mother of all tongues”; all western languages can trace their roots back to Sanskrit. (There is a mantra for mispronunciation if you are worried about making mistakes!)
There are thousands of mantras from which to choose. Say some of them repeatedly and notice what kind of energy they give you, what emotions arise, or if you experience any sensations in the body. Or choose a mantra based on a material or spiritual goal you have. For example, “Eim (I’m)” can be chanted to bring artistic, scientific and educational goals to your life. Or “Om Shrim Lakshmiyei Swaha” can invoke abundance. To see a list of some mantras, see the book Healing Mantras: Using Sound Affirmations for Personal Power, Creativity, and Healing by Thomas Ashley-Farrand, or The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice, and Music by Mitchell Gaynor. Also, check out this webpage: http://www.spiritvoyage.com/mantrahome.aspx.
Pick a quiet place to chant your first mantra. Try to chant for at least 5 minutes, and make note of how you feel before and afterwards. Then try building up to chanting your mantra 108 times (which is considered a sacred number). You can use pencil and paper to mark the repetitions, or you can also use a mala to help keep track (it has 108 beads on the necklace). Try to chant your mantra each day, 108 times a day, for 40 straight days. Mantras can be chanted any time, any place, or even while doing other activities. But to establish a habit, try to pick the same time and place for those 40 days. Keep a spiritual diary to record the practice and the effects of the practice. Did anything significant happen to you?
Our path of yoga is a path toward the light of our true self. Said another way, when we are in resonance or vibrating in harmony with the universe, we become one with all. Yoga gives us many tools to guide our paths toward harmony and light. Sound is one of these many tools.
The Namaste From NiMaSte Blog is written by the Nimaste Yoga staff.