Everything in creation is, at its most refined level, sound or vibration. Every tree, every flower, every part of our body has it’s own unique vibration. Even the qualities we express in our lives such as happiness, joy, abundance and love are vibrations.
When we are healthy, happy and vibrant, these vibrations are harmonizing with each other like a magnificent cosmic symphony. However if the vibration of any area becomes distorted, the harmony breaks down leading to a lack of wholeness and some discomfort in our life. Many forms of healing are based on knowing the correct sound or vibration and reintroducing it into that area, whereby we can restore the balance, harmony and comfort, once again.
Nature itself is full of sounds – birds singing, the wind through the trees, waves breaking on the beach, the laughter of innocent children and so many more. Unfortunately, for much of our time nowadays, we separate ourselves from nature. When we spend time in nature, listening to these sounds, our physiology becomes harmonized with the rhythms and flow of nature.
All traditions of the world have used sound for healing, whether the beating of a drum, a bell, gong, or a sacred chant. The ancient Vedic Tradition of India has taken this a step further, exploring and refining the use of sound over thousands of years, to formulate it into the Vedic Science of Mantras.
Mantras are specific sounds or vibrations whose effects are known. When either chanted aloud or repeated silently, they can create a desired effect in any area of our physiology or life, for healing, transformation and inner awakening. This is, of course, a vast subject and there are mantras for everything from curing snake bites to spiritual awakening. It would take a whole lifetime to master this wisdom however, we’ll discuss a few of the more practical uses here.
Japa means the repetition of a mantra so it really encompasses all uses of mantras. However, Japa is most commonly associated with a fixed number of repetitions of a mantra. Usually a string of beads known as a Mala with a set number of beads would be used to keep count, one repetition per bead. Traditionally, most Malas have 108 “counter” beads and a “guru” bead to indicate where to begin and end.
Sometimes shorter malas with 54 or 27 beads can be used with longer mantras. Using the Mala will often involve making a commitment. Let’s say you have a particular obstacle in your life. Knowing the mantra to help harmonize that situation, you might choose to repeat it 108 times (one Mala) for the next 30 days.
There are literally thousands of deities in the Eastern traditions, each associated with a different attribute and each having its own mantra, which invokes that attribute. For a Hindu, repeating one of these mantras, would be a form of worshipping that deity. However, for those not so religiously inclined, the deities and their attributes should be viewed in their subtler context, as archetypal energies.
These energies are all within us, either dormant or in a state of imbalance or balance. When they are dormant, we experience a lack in that area, when out of balance we experience some disruption and when in balance we enjoy harmony and fulfillment. By repeating one of these mantras, we can activate and harmonize its effects in all areas of our life.
A simple deity mantra is:
- GAM (gaam) – For removing obstacles and blockages and bringing wisdom in our life.
As we’ve discussed everything is sound and any discomfort or dis-ease is a distortion of the sound in some area of the body. Reintroducing the correct sound helps to restore the harmony in that area. Healing mantras are normally repeated with the attention in the area of discomfort or we could say, directing the vibration to where it is needed.
There are some powerful healing mantras, which are best learned from a qualified teacher however, here are some of the simpler ones.
- Mmmmm – sinuses
- Nnnnnnn – ears
- Eeemmm -eyes
- Kaa Gaa Gha – throat
- Yaa Yu Yai – jaw
The vowels sounds can also be used for healing.
Aaa, Eeeee, Eye, Ooooo, Uuuuuu
They are non-local, meaning we can chant one of them and direct its vibration wherever we choose.
Consciousness is transforming into matter at every point in the Universe but is more lively in certain places. On the earth we call these energy centers a vortex, in the body, we call them chakras. Chakras aren’t physical but we can imagine the main seven in the body, to be located along the spine. Each reflects different qualities in our lives. For most people, their chakras are blocked or stuck, diminishing the flow of energy supporting those particular qualities or over-emphasizing them.
By putting our attention in the area of each chakra and chanting the mantra associated with it, we can begin to enliven the chakra and release its qualities in our lives. There are several different sets of mantras for the chakras, the following set is for general everyday use. It’s important to do the whole set rather than just focusing on one or two. Starting with the lowest, bring your attention to that area of the body and repeat the sound 1-3 times aloud or silently.
- First Chakra (base of the spine), survival instincts LAAM
- Second Chakra (sacral area), sensuality, creative inspiration VAAM
- Third Chakra (solar plexus, navel), personal power, ego RAAM
- Fourth Chakra (center of chest), unconditional love, compassion YAAM
- Fifth Chakra (throat), knowledge, creativity HAAM
- Sixth Chakra (between eyebrows), insight, inspiration KSHAAM
- Seventh Chakra (crown, top of head), spiritual union OMM
The following are mantras which could be used at any time to enliven the qualities contained within their vibration.
- Shanti (shan tee) to restore peace and harmony
- Anandam (aan an dam) to restore inner joy and contentment
Enlightenment is a state of balance, harmony and self-awareness on all levels, therefore all mantras indirectly support this spiritual goal. However, the Gayatri Mantra, being the “Mother” of the wisdom of the entire creation, gives us the direct path to Enlightenment. Traditionally, it is chanted at times of transition during the day – sunrise, noon and sunset but it can also be chanted at any convenient time. It is best chanted a minimum of three times each session.
OM BHUR BHUVAH SUVAHA (Om Bhoor Bhoo-va Su-va-ha)
TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM (Tat Sa-vee-toor Var-ayn-yam)
BARGO DEVASYA DHIMAHI (Bar-go Day-vas-ya Dhee-ma-hee)
DHIYO YO NAH PRACHODAYAT
(Dhee-yo Yo Nah Pra-cho-da-yaat)
The mantras already mentioned are intended to create or support something on the active level of life and as such, they have meanings and/or intentions associated with them.
Meditation mantras have no particular meanings or specific intentions. Their role is simply to take the awareness from activity to the inner realm of silence and infinite possibilities. These mantras re-connect us at our most fundamental level of Being and allow us to begin to restore the memory of these qualities in all areas of our lives.
Techniques such as the Chopra Center’s Primordial Sound Meditation, select the mantra most suitable to guide the student on his/her journey of spiritual awakening. As such, these mantras are only taught by qualified teachers.
There is a more general mantra that can be used by anyone, somewhat for this same purpose. This mantra is SO HUM. It is usually used in conjunction with the breath. Sitting comfortably, with eyes closed, begin breathing normally. Silently begin repeating SO as you breathe in and repeating HUM as you breathe out. The use of the mantra should be easy and effortless. Whenever the attention drifts away, gently bring it back. This meditation can be practiced twice daily for 15-20 minutes each sitting.
As I said, this is a vast subject but I hope this has given you glimpse into this fascinating science.
No claims are being made for the effectiveness of any of the mantras or techniques discussed here and this information should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your healthcare professional.