For more than 3000 years mantras, which present sacred sounds, have been chanted for the purpose of spiritual healing.
Spiritual gurus became fascinated by poetry and began to write sounds in sacred texts like the Rigveda during the early period of Hinduism. The same sounds have echoed throughout the East all the way to today, and are now chanted by billions of Hindus, Buddhists and spiritualists over the world.
Today, mantras are chanted for many reasons. There are some mantras which help to cure depression and anxiety, mantras said to create wealth, mantras used to attract wealth… for near every purpose there is a corresponding mantra. Despite the billions of people who use mantras, and the sheer range of their uses, the Western world has stubbornly turned a blind eye to this oldest of spiritual practices.
It is shocking that after 3000 years there is still virtually zero scientific research to substantiate mantras. No funding has been given to scientifically investigate this most important spiritual practice. So, it has fallen to the spiritual community itself to substantiate the mantras.
What, precisely, do we know about mantras?
According to yoga masters mantras have the power to create chemical changes in the body. The specific vibrational qualities of mantras create reverberations in the body that lead to changes on the molecular level.
In order to be able to understand how this works we should consider man’s relation to sound.
Many of the sounds we make today, like grunts and some syllables, have been used for millions of years, long before we became homo-sapiens.
We have used grunts and syllables to form our understanding of the world which is similar to the way that birds use song to communicate information about the weather.
Human vocals were created as an echo of nature which is the reason why many of today’s words are onomatopoetic. Early man used syllables as a way of echoing the sound of the thing they were trying to describe. Hence why “bob” (as in “bobbing up and down”) sounds like an object bobbing up and down in the water. “Crash”, “Bang”, “Honk”, and “Chime” are other examples.
While mankind has evolved we have moved away from onomatopoetic language. So it is that English is not nearly as onomatopoetic as Sanskrit, the latter being a much earlier language.
Speaking in Sanskrit creates sounds that are very closely related to the sounds of nature.
The sacred Sanskrit word “Om”, for instance, means “Universe” and we can hear an echo of the universe in the sound of the mantra.
We get a sense of the open and infinite nature of the universe when we listen to this sound. “Om” is an open sound. It seems to conjure thoughts of an open space, it reconnects us with the vastness of the universe.
To say that “Om” sounds like an open space, of course, means that it has auditory composition similar to the way sound vibrates in an actual open space. The quality of the sound is a recreation of the sound of the real thing.
What does it mean to sound like the real thing? It means that the sound of the mantra and the sound of an actual open space are very similar. In other words, when we recite “Om” we recreate the vibrational qualities of an actual open space, and we do so inside the body.
When we recite mantras, we don’t simply make some sounds. We meditate on them. To meditate means to focus on consciousness on a certain space. When we meditate on “Om” we focus consciousness on the mantra itself. In other words, we place our consciousness inside the sound, inside “OM”, and inside the open space that “Om” represents.
This is a short way to explain the science of mantras. And it is one of humankind’s oldest healing techniques. We have recreated the vibrational qualities of nature using the voice for millions of years. Mantras simply take it further. When we meditate on those primordial sounds, we place consciousness inside the sound, and healing the mind by reconnecting it with those auditory representations of the natural world.
By changing the vibrational qualities of those sounds, we change the effect the sound has on the mind. For instance, the root chakra mantra “Lam”, grounds us and creates feelings of belonging, where “Ah” creates release, helping us to let go.
This is the power of Sanskrit mantras. They present a way of recreating the vibrational qualities of real-world events, objects, or spaces in the body, and then placing consciousness inside those sounds by meditating. Chanting a Sanskrit mantra puts us in-tune with positive vibrational energies that heal body, mind and spirit.