In modern life, we’re surrounded by a cacophony of sound and vibration, most of it man-made — traffic, cell phones, entertainment, bustling cities, they all have vibratory patterns that affect our minds and bodies. Sometimes they energize us, but often they disrupt. Everything in nature has a vibratory pattern, too. The effect of those patterns on our health, our state of mind, is so different — the music of nature, the flow of water, even the animals, the trees, the mountains, everything around us emits vibrations that can soothe and enliven our nervous systems, and shift our consciousness, in ways both subtle and tangible. And we all know this, perhaps now more than ever. Just step outside for a moment and you can feel it.
In Ayurveda, sound is primordial. The most ancient Vedic text, a set of hymns known as the Rig Veda, was composed as long ago as 1700BC, the oldest known religious text, and the oldest written text still used in practice today. The Rig Veda begins with the sound “Ah…” representing the full openness of the universe, and even that which gave birth to the universe. We recognize that sound in Amen (to man), and Aum (Om). In the Vedic tradition, our very essence emanates from sound, and Ayurveda uses specific sounds, or mantras, to heal, expand, and restore us.
These primordial vibrations have been a tool to transform energy and heal since the first recorded history, and before it, when the ancient yogis and seers, the rishis, began developing life extension practices, and practices for human evolution. The vibration and design of mantras are activated when said silently or aloud, aligning the person saying the mantra with that aspect of universal energy. Entire meditation systems are built using the vehicle of subtle mantra, such as Surya’s favorite, the effortless and rewarding Transcendental Meditation, which you can learn more about here.
On a scientific level, the power of sound is well documented, both in and out of meditation. Whenever we listen to any sound, our brain waves automatically begin to align with that sound’s frequency, which shifts the body and mind on a physiological level. It’s not a mystery to anyone that sound and vibration have a direct effect us — music is the most popular form of entertainment in the world, in all its myriad variations. Scientifically, sound also affects the default mode network in the brain, and studies have shown that listening to mantras can deactivate parts of the prefrontal cortex, which is the seat of our analytical mind. This can allow us to rest in a state of simple awareness, freed from restless thoughts, and experience the natural healing that often spontaneously occurs. The limbic system also deactivates for a bit, allowing the waves of emotions to naturally settle in the ocean from which they rise. With this, the simple listening to primordial sounds allows our minds, on their own, to release anxiety and stress, and lets our brains, and our entire physiology, to rest, regenerate, and heal.
It’s very easy to incorporate the healing power of sound and vibration into your own life. At Surya, when your melting on the table, part of the melt comes from the flow of mantras that accompany the four-handed therapies. Even five or ten minutes of quietly listening to gentle mantras will change more than your mood, but your actual physiology. If you don’t have a mantra recording handy, get out into nature, even into your own yard. If you just listen, you’ll hear it — perhaps the birds, perhaps a breeze in the trees, the sound of the world that’s always been here. If you have bells or chimes (we love these), that’s a primordial sound, too. Practice 20 minutes of Transcendental Meditation to experience the finer levels of sound, and the easy peace that immediately provides. Or… listen to Surya’s playlists, which contain some of our favorite mantras that we use here daily, and that guests always ask for. You can listen to any of our five playlists here. Let us know if you have any questions. We’re always happy to answer them!