The foundation of Ayurveda is that you can use your five senses as tools in order to experience healing and return to your most natural state of balance in mind and body. Your daily routine as it relates to the five senses—sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch—can all influence the way you feel and make a notable impact on your well-being. Making tiny shifts in the way you receive information through your senses, to be more aligned with your dosha, can make a big difference in your health, balance, and overall happiness.
As a general rule of thumb with your dosha, or current doshic imbalances, you balance your mind through sight, smell, and sound, which are the doorways to clarity. You use taste, along with touch, to balance your body.
It’s always a good time to check in on your dosha state of mind-body balance. The type of music you choose (sound sense) as the background to your life can be a large contributor to why you’re not feeling your most balanced self.
The Vata dosha reflects the combination of the earth elements of space and air and is responsible for movement both in the natural world and within you individually. A balanced Vata mind is creative and imaginative, never short on a vision for the future, and lots of ideas for any project. An excess of Vata in the mind turns this creative genius into restlessness or anxiety. Feeling “ungrounded” is a telltale sign for a Vata mind imbalance and is often accompanied by feeling “spacey” or all over the place.
By simply pushing play on the right type of music, you can quickly and easily bring stability and calm to the overactive Vata mind. In general, when Vata is overactive it’s best to fill the room with a peaceful and mellow mood using meditative music that has a soft and melodic tone. Music that features string instruments with a deep tone, like the bass, cello, or balanced wind instruments like a flute, will have a grounding effect and counter too much mental space and air. Crystal bowls, a harmonium, or sound healing sessions will also help slow down Vata and bring calm to the entire nervous system.
The very nature of Vata is quick and fast. Thus, it’s likely that this slower-paced rhythm is not the music that someone with an excess of Vata will naturally gravitate toward. Remember, when you’re particularly out of balance in the mind or body, your natural tendency will be to gravitate toward things that will only pull you further out of balance. When you begin to return to a state of homeostasis, then the natural tendency will be one toward balance. If you find yourself not in the mood for slow instrumental music, choose something with a deeper and slower pace to it like slow-paced jazz, soul, blues, or anything with a slow and earthy tone. Avoid music like hard rock, electric guitar, and techno when you’re feeling anxious—especially when you first wake up in the morning or right before you go to sleep.
Embodying fire and water, the Pitta dosha, just like the earth element of fire that it represents, is responsible for transformation in the mind and body. In the physical body, Pitta governs digestion and works much the same way in the mind. Pitta processes or digests your mental experiences. When balanced, Pitta exemplifies leadership, vision, and productivity. An excess of Pitta quickly turns this ability to harness willpower into anger, irritability, judgment, and criticism. If you’ve been feeling overly frustrated or impatient in reaction to your life, it’s likely a sign it’s time to cool down your mental fire.
Soothing Pitta in the mind with music is an excellent way to create balance on a daily basis. Nature sounds, particularly music that incorporates running water, or the ocean will assist with instantly harnessing Pitta in the mind. Music with mid-range tones featuring instruments like the saxophone or any type of slow and rhythmic percussion or drums will have a soothing and soft result for Pitta.
Pitta expresses its qualities of sharp, light, and hot as irritation in the mind when there’s an excessive amount. When experiencing a Pitta imbalance, it can be helpful to determine what type of music would have a cooling and calming effect for you individually. When playing music with words, be mindful of the images and stories that are being invoked. Is the music you’re playing calming you down or is it only magnifying those feelings or irritation and unrest? R&B music, slow-paced country music, love songs, or any music that simply leaves you feeling good is perfect to quell the excess of Pitta, which suffers from excess critique and judgment.
The Kapha dosha is reflective of the stability and security you find in the combination of earth and water in the natural world. Kapha slows everything down so you can experience peace, calm, security, and grounding. Kapha creates structure not only in your physical bodies but also in your mind. The Kapha mind likes routine, it likes things stable, and enjoys life most when it’s peaceful and smooth sailing. In other words, Kapha—especially when imbalanced—doesn’t love change. When Kapha becomes excessive in the mind, there’s too much stability and the tendency to cling onto things that no longer serve you. In the face of change, Kapha manifests itself as depression or the inability to move on. Too much stability leads to congestion, stagnation, or feeling stuck in life.
To counterbalance excess Kapha in the mind it’s best to pick up the energy with music that has an invigorating and energizing effect on the nervous system. Higher-toned music with drums, chimes, electric guitar, keyboard, and piano is the perfect type of sound to balance and re-establish the flow of sometimes dull and slow Kapha energy.
The qualities of Kapha are heavy, damp, and cold. Thus, music that creates activity and heat in the body is perfect for Kapha particularly first thing in the morning or around 2 p.m. in the afternoon when it’s common to feel slow, tired, and dull. As a Kapha imbalance tends to manifest as depression, feeling blue, or overall lethargy, choose music that is upbeat and high energy, and has an overall feeling of being uplifting. Turn off the love songs and turn up dance music, Latin music, rock, rap, or your favorite music that keeps your energy and spirits high.
Regardless of your dosha, or the music you choose to listen to each day, making a subtle shift toward understanding that your senses and the information that you choose to put into them have a powerful effect on the quality of your life experience. According to Ayurveda, there’s no such thing as perfection when it comes to balance. It’s a simple favoring toward things that will create a more balanced state within your body and inside your mind. Choosing more nourishing choices when it comes to music will result in a more balanced version of you.