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Why Chant?

Posted by on Aug 2, 2012

Patanjali described many of the ways that ancient yogis attempted to impact our internal systems. Among these were diet, movement, sleep, breath, and also the use of sound or chanting. If we were to compare the human being to a highly evolved computer system, we would see that there are two ways in which programs are fed into the computer’s CPU, or central processing unit. Through a study in energetics and in the cognitive affect of archetypal images connected with sound, we can greatly control the output of our CPU.

The energy of sound is a fascinating subject. Did you know, for instance, that the human brain has a sympathetic harmonic resonance with the earth which can be activated by yoga, chanting and meditation? The earth also has its own sound or vibration.  Dr. Jeffrey Thompson at The Center for Neurolinguistic Research has some excellent information on his site about brain entrainment and the sound of the planet.

For those of you who are not musicians, a sympathetic resonance is a harmonic frequency based on overtones.  An overtone is created as a sound waves bounce off another sound or another surface and the ricochet effect creates more waves and hence other more subtle sub-harmonics. Overtones are what are sounded in the throat singers of the Himalayas. Over time and with practice, a throat singer is able to simultaneously sound more than one pitch with his voice. This is done by manipulating the spaces in the throat creating walls within the mouth and throat for the waves created to bounce off of.

Research has been conducted in the last twenty years regarding the affect of sound on the human brain. We now know that the brain is taken to different levels of cognition and awareness based on the frequency of a pitch. Sound is actually the interruption or disturbance of mechanical energy that propagates through physical objects as a wave. It is measured in Hz. There are more complex ways to measure sound that have to do with the amplitude of the wave, but for now, it is sufficient to know how sound occurs in our environment.

There are four different types of brain states that are affected by the frequency of sound:

  • Beta (14-30Hz) This state is associated with arousal and decisive concentration
  • Alpha (8-13.9Hz) This state is associated with relaxation and a relaxed focus, also a light meditative state of mind
  • Theta (4-7.9) This is the state associated with REM sleep or dreaming
  • Delta (.1-3.9) This is the state of mind associated with dreamless sleep or deep trance

Audio frequencies below 20 Hz have been found to induce a ‘trance’ state in many people. The normal range of hearing for humans is from approximately 20hzs to 20khs. In this state, the brain makes Delta, Theta, and Alpha waves in sympathetic resonance to a particular sound. While the brain is making these types of waves, our sixth sense and intuition are greatly enhanced. In some studies, different parts of the brain, sections that we do not often use, are lit up by Delta and Alpha waves. It turns out the Earth’s Schumann Resonance is actually in tune with the brain while in this trance-like, or meditative state. The Schumann resonance is a spectrum of sound waves in the extremely low frequency portion of the Earth’s electromagnetic field.

It would be helpful here to introduce you to a term called Cymatics. According to Wikipedia, Cymatics is the study of wave phenomena. It is typically associated with the physical patterns produced through the interaction of sound waves in a medium. A simple experiment demonstrating the visualization of cymatics can be done by sprinkling sand on a metal plate and vibrating the plate, for example by drawing a violin bow along the edge, the sand will then form itself into standing wave patterns such as simple concentric circles. The higher the frequency, the more complex the shapes produced, with certain shapes having similarities to traditional mandala designs. The study of Cymatics clearly shows how sound waves move matter, and how sounds created by Sanskrit create the shapes of the letters being sounded.

Tibetan monks chanting OM into sand placed on metal plates will actually shift the sand with the sounds of their chanting into the shape of the Om Symbol. There are many web sites which show all kinds of  pictures of the shapes made by varying frequencies showing for example, many mandalas with shapes matching ancient mandalas from Tibet.

There are tremendous benefits to be gained from meditating on sound: from better sleep, to more creativity and intelligence, to lowering cholesterol and stress hormones produced in the body. Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, a top Oncologist in the USA, has a very interesting web site where he gives some of the benefits of using sound from singing bowls, and using the voice in simple toning or mantras. He explains things in very digestible terms.

The benefits of using sound are furthered in the immune system. In Gaynor’s book, The Healing Power of Sound, he documents his research with patients over many years. He explains that sound is so powerful that at certain frequencies in the delta range, it can trigger the release of growth hormone beneficial for healing and regeneration.

It does not take much to realize that the repetitive sound of a jack hammer can make certain brain wave patterns associated with stress, for example, even once the sound has been removed, so it should be equally as obvious that sound can be used to heal.
Just like in music, there are different sounds and vibrations made by different chants. These vibrations affect the body and mind in different ways. Chants are like a tuning fork that affects us tremendously. A Gregorian chant will positively affect you in a different way than the Gayatri Mantra, for example.  Some of the Vedic chants are considered to be the oldest in the oral tradition, tracing back to the time before Homer, containing their own personalized vibration. These varied sounds cause specific vibrations thereby making different waves with different amplitudes. The amplitudes of the waves cause the brain to sympathetically resonate depending upon the shape of the wave. Chants can be as simple as those with only a seed sound or as complex as a highly multifarious symphony. No matter which chant you decide to try, just practicing it for a relatively short time in a consistent manner can greatly affect your CPU. You can reprogram your brain to be more peaceful, more in tune with the abundance all around you, or to be more creative. It’s all in the sound you make. Chanting also uses the human voice, the only instrument made by life itself, or god.

There are pictures of the research done by Fabian Maman at the Paris Institute of Science where he and a team explode cancer cells using sound waves; the instrument which achieved this the quickest was the human voice. The benefit is huge and on all levels or within all the bodies. Chanting can also be done silently and has even a greater benefit, for it is done on the mental and etheric level which then feeds into the physical. Information on this is available in a clearly written way from Thomas Ashley Farrand’s books and cds. He is a manta master and has a wealth of eastern mantra knowledge which he is sharing in very easy to understand terms. Other great teachers are Johnathan Goldman, and  Dr. Jane Ma’ati Smith. All of these teachers will explain that the use of mantra is like creating a generator. It creates a sound wave, this wave has energy in it, and this energy can be used to do work. The work done is achieved with the choice of the mantra and even more importantly…intent.

The intent of the voice work may or may not be related to the mantra, but the intent will be the switch in a way to direct the energy to the place we want the energy to flow. It is like setting up a circuit board in our bodies, mental physical or emotional. The wave and intent can be imagined as an ocean wave, the power of the wave created as the motion of the earth creates a wave. A person may then take a surf board and ride this wave, turning back and forth, doing what they want on it. Our intention is the surf board. If we want the energy to go to our liver, our focus and intent that it does so makes it happen, we chant and the energy is generated for us to direct with our intent or thoughts.

These are just a examples of the tremendous benefit that sound can have on the body and mind. Different frequencies retrain the brain to let go of other, more negative behaviors that may be held in a human being with different sound patterns. These energies are not only held in the brain, they are held in the body as well. Use of manta or toning will create vibrations of a more balanced or positive nature and the body will respond to these by changing its vibration, thereby releasing emotional patterns, mental habits and physical illnesses.
(c) 2011, 2010, 2012 Christina Sarich. Offered under creative common license. Please republish only with reference to author and website and all links intact.

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