The first impulse to emerge from the silence of the absolute, or the field of Pure Potentiality, was the sound “OM” or more correctly “AUM,” according to the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures).
Even the Bible and modern science agree that the initial spark of creation came from sound or vibration. The Gospel, according to John says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God … and the Word was made flesh.”
If you substitute “Word” with “Sound,” it becomes, “In the beginning was the Sound and the Sound was God … and the Sound became manifest.”
In modern science, they talk about the Big Bang Theory, again sound.
It’s this original, primordial sound that diversified: “The One became many.”Each separate vibration evolved to reflect the whole in infinite disguises, giving rise to the world in which we live. Universes within universes, each vibrating at their own frequency, interacted with every other frequency to produce the variety of life. Every organ, tissue, and cell has its vibration which, when in harmony, creates the most wonderful symphony imaginable, the human body.
If disharmony arises or a break in the unfolding of the vibration occurs, there develops a loss of wholeness leading to discomfort and disease.
Sound has been used since the beginning of history to create certain moods in the listener. Different sounds affect people in different ways. Fingernails scraping a blackboard elicit a very different reaction than a violin (unless it’s being played by a 6 year-old). Shamanic drumming can create a trance-like state, marching bands are used to fire-up an army or sports team, and a mother’s lullaby soothes a troubled child. The different ragas of Indian classical music are attuned to different times of the day or different seasons to harmonize the listener with the rhythms of nature.
With the right sounds, you can align yourself with the vibrations that foster health, happiness, and unity.
In the Vedic tradition, sound vibration is known as Nada. In the practice of Nada Yoga, sound is used not only to restore physical and mental well-being but also as a path to spiritual awakening. Nada Yoga divides sound into external sounds, Ahata andinternal sounds, Anahata.
External sounds are perceived through the ears and Nada Yoga can be as simple as listening to non-vocal music while gently focusing on the individual notes. You can listen to the different notes within the music of nature—birds singing, rain falling, or the wind through the trees. Or you can chant sacred mantras such as OM or AHUM (I am), with the focus on each individual letter. The aim is to allow awareness to move inwards.
Internal sounds are perceived through the Anahata (heart) chakra. Each human body has its own unique sound or vibration, which is sacred to that individual. By regulating the breath, with the attention turned inwards, and closing the ears with the fingers, you can begin to listen in on your own inner sound. Re-aligning with this sound serves to balance your energetic body and ultimately re-connect you with your divine presence. With practice, you can also learn to hear the vibration of the universe, a soft distant OM, sometimes referred to as the Cosmic Hum.
Through Nada Yoga it is said that you can remove all impurities in the physiology. It starts with awakening the inner fire through the use of Bhramari Pranayama (humming bee breath).
Humming Bee Breath
- Sit comfortably with your spine erect and close your eyes.
- Close your ears with either your index or middle fingers.
- Lightly press your lips together and slightly open your teeth.
- Bring the inner gaze into the Ajna (sixth) chakra.
- Breathe in through your nose.
- As you exhale, make a smooth, even, humming sound, like the sound of a bumblebee.
- Continue for 3 to 5 minutes feeling the vibration throughout the body.
Levels of Sound
The Vedas also recognize four stages of the manifestation of sound.
- The grossest form of sound, Vaikhari is normal audible sound, including speech.
- More subtle is Madhyama, a whispered sound with no audible effect
- As you move within, you experience Pashyanti. These are mental sounds such as songs in the head or a dream. It is also the visualization of sound such as silently listening to your thoughts or the silent repetition of a mantra.
- Finally you reach Para or transcendental sound. This is pre-manifest sound in its subtlest state as light or pure silence. This is the root or potential of all sounds, sometimes referred to as the “unstruck sound.”
Chanting has been used in all cultures for thousands of years to uplift the spirit and activate certain archetypal energies within the self.
Choose a simple repetitive chant, one that you can learn easily so you’re not always trying to remember it. It can be from any tradition but it should be one you feel comfortable with.
- Take a deep breath in.
- As you exhale, chant the sound OM.
- When you run out of breath, breathe in and repeat the chant.
- Continue at your own pace for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Take a deep breath in
- As you exhale, in the same breath chant Aaa-Uuu-Mmm
- Feel the “Aaa” sound in your belly, “Uuu” in your chest area, and “Mmm” in your head
- Breathe in again and continue at your own pace for 2-3 minutes
When you chant, you raise the vibration of the whole physiology. Whenever you chant, chant fully. Open your heart, open your throat, chant with your whole body; lose yourself to the chant. Ultimately you are chanting to our own soul—the divinity within you. Rumi said, “I want to sing like the birds, not caring who listens or what they think.” This is how you should chant.
A Bengali Poem
With beaming face chant the sweet name of God
Till in your heart the nectar overflows.
Drink of it ceaselessly and share it with all!
If ever your heart runs dry, parched by the flames
Of worldly desire, chant the sweet name of God,
And heavenly love will moisten your arid soul.
As everything in the universe is sound or vibration, a disharmony in one of those sounds or a break in the unfolding of the sequence of sounds, leads to discomfort, disease, and a loss of wholeness. For example, if one musician in an orchestra is playing off key, there is a loss of harmony in the whole piece of music. You can correct that by having a second musician stand next to the first one and play the correct notes. Just by hearing the correct notes, the first musician will automatically begin playing correctly.
Similarly, if there is a disharmony in your physiology, and you know the correct vibration for that area, you can begin to correct the imbalance by chanting or toning that sound. For example, if you have a problem with your eyes, and you know the sound relating to the eyes, you can activate the healing process for that area by chanting that sound (silently or aloud) and directing the vibration into the area of the eyes.
Examples of Toning Sounds for the Body
|Kaa Gaa Gha||throat|
|Yaa Yu Yi||jaw|
|Sssss||Lungs and large intestine|
|Shhh||Liver and small intestine|
|Wooo||Kidneys and bladder|
The vowel sounds Ahaa, Eee, Eye, Ooo, Uuu are non-local or non-specific. If you don’t know the sound for an area of the body, you can chant any of the vowel sounds and direct its vibration into that area.
|1st Chakra, base of the spine||LAAM|
|2nd Chakra, sacral area||VAAM|
|3rd Chakra, navel area||RAAM|
|4th Chakra, heart area||YAAM|
|5th Chakra, throat area||HAAM|
|6th Chakra, between eyebrows||KSHAAM|
|7th Chakra, crown (top) of head||OM|
Bells, Gongs, and Bowls
Bells, gongs, or bowls that have a clear ring when struck can be used for balancing and clearing energy. Unless a metal bell, gong, or bowl has been tuned to a specific frequency, they can only be used for general purposes.
To clear the body’s energetic field, strike the instrument and circle it clockwise around the body, move it up and down the limbs, move up upwards along the front of the spine.
To clear a room or home, play the instrument while standing in the center of the space or move around the edges of the space in a clockwise direction, striking/ringing the instrument.
Crystal bowls are manufactured to specific vibrations, usually to the vibration of one of the chakras. They can be used for general balancing and clearing as described above or played in front of the specific chakra, with your attention on that chakra.
There are mantras for just about anything you can imagine. There are mantras to restore health, bring wealth, change the weather, remove problems, cure snake bites, welcome a new baby, and create peaceful coexistence, just to mention a few.
The Chopra Center offers classes in Primordial Sound Meditation, where students receive a mantra that relates to the sound or vibration of the universe at the time of their birth. Silently repeating this sound draws the awareness inwards to transcend the external world and merge with the non-local value of existence that was there at the moment of birth. This reconnects you with your true self, an infinite, immortal field of pure consciousness. You can learn your personal mantra from any Chopra-certified Primordial Sound Meditation instructor.
In the Vedic tradition of India, mantras are often associated with a particular deity and by chanting the mantra you activate the archetypal energies associated with that deity. It’s important to remember that the deities are really a projection of your true self. By chanting these mantras, you are simply activating the energies already lying dormant within you.
Perhaps the most well known of the deity mantras is … OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
Lord Shiva is considered to be the first yogi and this mantra activates the pure silence, pure awareness, and pure potentiality within you.
There are too many to list them all but here two other important mantras.
Maha Mrtyunjaya Mantra
This great Shiva mantra is to prevent untimely death, physical ill health, fear, sorrow, and depression.
It helps to create universal peace, gives energy and zeal, removes ignorance, and destroys anger, selfishness, and vengeful thoughts.
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
Sugandhim Pushti Vardhanam
Mrtyor Mukshiya Mamrtat
It is said that all sickness is really home sickness. For those of you on a spiritual journey, your cure is to return home to you true self. After eons of wandering, you remember that you are and always have been an enlightened being. The Gayatri mantra is the one for enlightenment.
Om Bhur Bhuvah Suvaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat
There are many recordings of these mantras, which can help you learn them.
Play, chant, listen, meditate, be open to the great silence, and enjoy the blessings of the magnificent, eternal symphony that surrounds you.
– Om Tat Sat
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is meant to support your journey to perfect health, happiness and well-being. Nothing said here is intended as a cure in itself. Please always consult your own healthcare provider when facing challenges in your life.