NEW RELEASE! Sound & Silence – a chanting CD to support your home practice is now available. It is always a more powerful, resonant experience when we chant in a group and this recording helps you to feel a similar vibration. Those that have chanted along with it so far have said it strengthens their chanting and deepens the silence. Below are instructions and explanations for the individual practices, and phonetic pronunciations. Enjoy!
To purchase the CD use the contact form and I will send you purchasing details.
So first, what is mantra?
Mantra is a Sanskrit word – man means mind or to think – and tra means tools or instruments. So a literal translation can mean tools for the mind. Tra is also translated as wave or vibration, which links to the effect of chanting. Dating back thousands of years, there are many traditions that continue to use mantra today, from Vedic, Buddhist, and Hindu to name just a few.
Mantras have power. The science of Mantra is based on the understanding that sound is a form of energy having structure, power and a definite, predictable effect on the Chakras (energy centres that are sited along the spinal column) and the human psyche.
It is a vast subject and for the purpose of this CD I will give just an overview – but really the truth of mantras will reveal itself to you when you practice on a regular basis.
There are many benefits – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. So if you would like a simple yet effective way to manage your mood and your thoughts, create and maintain health and well-being, plus clear mental and behavioural patterns that no longer serve you, then chant and mantra offers you a pathway to creative change, empowerment, growth and spiritual development.
For many of us it is the ability of mantra to connect us to the Divine, the Source, or God (however you perceive that energy) that draws us back to practice time and time and time again; for thousands of years, millions of people have chanted these mantras – and it is a joy and privilege to be part of that lineage. No matter what your faith or none…there is some underlying universal force that vibrates within and around us; mantras draw you back to that Source of all life, and we begin to experience ourselves as spiritual beings not separate from each other or God. Mantra opens our hearts, and our capacity for compassion…
No amount of reading or intellectual study will enable you to fully understand the benefits of chanting; as Krishna Das said “it won’t work if you don’t do it!” So with an open mind and an open heart, dive into the chants on this Sound & Silence CD and begin – or continue – your journey of healing.
Aum – The meaning of Om varies between the various traditions, it is the most Holy and sacred of sounds, chanting it draws us closer to Reality, the Divine Truth, our Divine Self. It brings us peace of mind and an inner stillness.
“If you think of Om only as a sound, a technique or a symbol of the Divine, you will miss it altogether. You have to approach it with an attitude of surrender and reverence. Surrendering, merging and dissolving in to the ocean of bliss is the key to Om chanting and meditation.” “Om Chanting & Meditation” Amit Ray, PhD
When chanting, check your posture, ensuring that you sit tall yet relaxed, the chin tucked in very slightly to lengthen the back of your neck, chest open so that you can breathe easily.
Take a breath in and on the exhalation allow the AUM/OM to emerge without effort.
Humming For Health – Nasal Humming stimulates the vestibular system, which is located within the inner ear. The vestibular system is responsible for our balance – physical (both gross and fine motor skills) and emotional. Humming is a high frequency sound – it nourishes and energises our brains.
By nasal humming we vibrate (or stimulate) the vestibular system and in turn the tenth cranial nerve (Pneumogastric or Vagus nerve). This regulates the larynx, heart, lungs, stomach, liver, bladder, kidneys, small intestines, colon and all the way down to the anus. Many emotions and psychological conditions are associated with each of these organs both within our own traditions and those in India and China.
- increases energy and stamina
- regulates our breathing and blood pressure
- improves balance, coordination, and posture and in turn makes all of our moving easier
- balances brain waves – leading to calmness, relaxation, improved sleep, balanced hormones
- gives clarity of mind and focus, improves comprehension
- increases antibodies, strengthens the immune system
- clears sinuses
- daily hummers say it helps to ‘connect to myself more’, ‘I’m calmer and more grounded’, ‘more able to cope’ and even ‘an inner massage’.
The ‘hum’ is achieved by changing the shape of your inner mouth, from a flat space (with the roof of your mouth and tongue touching) to an open ‘cave’ with tongue dropped down and lips slightly pursed. Imagine you are gently kissing your finger (which changes the inner aspect of your mouth, take a deep breath, and as you exhale ‘hum’. Take a breath in when you need to, don’t strain, and continue to hum feeling a gentle vibration around your cheekbones, sinus area, perhaps your lips and even down into your chest. If you have blocked sinuses it can be difficult to feel that vibration to start with – but it IS still happening! In fact it will clear your sinuses as you practice daily. You can build your practice from 3-5 minutes a day to 10 and even gradually build up to 20 minutes; the benefits absolutely make it worth investing time in!
Bija (seed) Mantras – The word “Bija” means seed, and whilst there are many Bija sounds, for this introductory practice we are going to focus on those that relate to the main or primary chakras (energy centres) within the body. Starting at the base of the spine and rising to above the head, the sounds are Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Om and So Ham.
The Sanskrit word Chakra literally translates to wheel or disk. In yoga, meditation, and the science of Ayurveda, this term refers to wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven main chakras, positioned along the spine, and they are the places where matter and consciousness meet. This invisible energy, called Prana, is the vital life force, which keeps us vibrant, healthy, and alive.
LAM – Base of the spine, the earth element. VAM – sacral centre (just below the naval), the water element.
RAM – Solar Plexus, the fire element. YAM – heart centre, the air element. HAM – throat centre, the ether element.
OM – the brow centre or third eye. SO HAM – balances masculine and feminine energies, creates a change in consciousness.
These wheels of energy relate to large nerve centres in the body. Depak Chopra describes the seven main chakras as containing bundles of nerves and major organs as well as our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being. He writes that “Since everything is moving, it’s essential that our seven main chakras stay open, aligned, and fluid. If there is a blockage, energy cannot flow. Think of something as simple as your bath drain. If you allow too much hair to go into the drain, the bathtub will back up with water, stagnate and eventually bacteria and mold will grow. So too with our bodies and the chakras. A bath is simple; it’s physical so the fix is easy.”
Each Bija mantra also represents the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, space and our mind, or essence. By chanting these sounds we clear, balance and strengthen each Chakra.
It is a cycle of “attack”, “toning” and finishes with the “mm” sound.
Because each chakra is described as a wheel of energy, as we sound the Bija mantra the consonant at the beginning stimulates or ‘attacks’ the wheel, encouraging movement. This movement will always bring us back to balance; if a chakra is over-stimulated the chanting will calm the energetic field – too sluggish and energy is increased. Balance is the key.
“The Ah sound in the middle carries the Divine energy; many traditions around the world have the Ah sound within their name for God . God (pronounced GAHd), BrAHmAH (Hindu), AHllAH (Muslim), AHwoon (Aramaic) and HehovAH or YAHweh (Hewbrew).
Finally, with the Mmm to close, we bring the sound back to ourselves, nourishing and nurturing our mind, body and soul within. It closes the cycle.
The Great Gayatri Mantra
Among all the thousands of mantras written down and stored in Far Eastern archives, the Gayatri mantra is universally considered the essence of all mantras. The Sanskrit words contain the essential vibration of the upper luminous spheres of light, and all spiritual powers and potencies are within. There are different forms; long form, short form, and also what is termed as the Samhita or ‘original’ mantra – my current understanding is that the original form has evolved over the years to reflect cultural shifts, but each form has slightly different benefits and meanings.
The Gayatri mantra is a meditation on spiritual light. The mantra is a request to the Sun to dispel the darkness of ignorance and provide clarity and strength. The daily recitation of this mantra is believed to bring more lightness to your being and feelings of positive and energy. Certainly those that have studied with me and attended workshops find that they feel the change within themselves surprisingly quickly (and learn it quicker than they thought possible too!)
Om Tat Savitur Vareenyam
Om taht-sah-vee-toor Vahr-ehn-yum
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Bhahr-go Deh-Vahs-Yah Dee-Mah-Hee
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat.
Dee-yoh Yoh–nah Prah-choh-dah-yaht