Mantra Chanting: How Sound Healing Works

In many yoga traditions, most notably Kundalini yoga, there is a history of using mantra chanting as tool for healing. The healing power of sound is a bit mysterious for many modern yogis, but it’s really quite powerful.

The Power of Mantra Chanting

A mantra is simply a sound symbol. It can be one word or many. “Om” is probably the mantra yogis know best and chant most often, that word is just the beginning. An entire science of mantra chanting known as Naad Yoga seeks to experience infinite reality through sound.

The idea behind mantra chanting is to use sound vibrations to bring about physical changes in the brain. It works, say proponents of Naad Yoga, when the tongue connects with meridian points on the roof of the mouth.

It’s not necessary to understand the science behind mantra chanting to experience its benefits. Many people notice changes in energy when they chant, particularly if they do so regularly or with a group.

In mantra chanting sound is used as an object of meditation, the same way gazing at a candle or tuning into the breath might be used. Repeating a mantra helps you tune into something powerful, and often very specific. Mantras can help you become more present as you practice returning to the sound whenever the mind wanders.

While it’s possible to chant silently (“in your head”), mantra chanting is most effective when done aloud so that it creates a physical vibration. You’ll also have another tool for focusing on the mind if you chant aloud, since you’ll need to pay attention to how your lips, mouth and tongue form sounds. If you’re chanting with a group, you’ll have the added task of trying to stay reasonably in tune as well as chanting the words at the same time and pace as other chanters.

There are mantras for everything from calming anxiety to creating prosperity. Here are a few traditional Sanskrit mantras that can be recited or sung:

Om Namah Shivaya

Translated, “I bow to Shiva,” this mantra is used to honor one’s own divine nature. Try chanting the words once while breathing in and once while breathing out.

Ong Namo Gurudev Namo

This mantra is chanted at the start of Kundalini yoga classes to “tune in” to infinite wisdom.

Om Shri Dhanvantre Namah

A mantra to the cosmic doctor Dhanvantre, these words are said to aid in physical, mental and emotional healing.

So Hum

The translation for this simple mantra is, “I am that; that I am.” It is a powerful mantra for connecting with a higher power, whatever your concept of that may be.

Mantra chanting is not limited to Sanskrit words. You use any affirmation for mantra chanting, and you can do it in any language. For example, in English, you can chant the following mantras:

“All is well.”

“May all beings be peaceful.”

“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Serenity Prayer)

What mantras work for you? If you’re new to mantra chanting, start simply and chant what speaks to your heart.

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Maria Kuzmiak

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