(Editor’s Note: This series is dedicated to sharing the knowledge contained in “The Aquarian Teacher”, the teacher training manual shared by all students of the KRI certified Kundalini yoga teacher training program. This article is focused on Chapter 7 of the manual. You can discover the wisdom in greater depth by taking the Yoga Teacher Training course. )
“We have to just experience and develop that Word of the Guru resounding in us. we are to become the temple of the shabd. That’s all a human can do.” ~Yogi Bhajan
What is mantra?
Mantra is a creative projection of the mind through sound. Say what? Well, thoughts are things. Sounds are things too. The science of mantra is based upon the understanding that you can project a specific form of energy through the mind and have a definite, predictable effect upon the physiology of the human body, chakra, ten bodies, and human psyche. Essentially, mantra is a sound wave that creates a specific effect within you. One you can feel and test out for yourself (don’t take our word for it!)
The word itself “Mantra” can be broken down into “man” meaning mind and “trang” meaning wave or projection. A mantra is a sound current that you pulse across the mind to create a specific effect.
Each mantra is like a mathematical formula. It creates a measurable end. It can alter the patterns and chemistry of the brain (with both physical and metaphysical effects). Even places like Harvard and UCLA have been able to measure a physical effects of mantra meditation on alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers (it’s not just for sadhus anymore!)
Both the meaning of the mantra and the rhythmical repetition of it creates the power of the mantra. The breathing pattern that results from a mantra is also beneficial.
Why chant mantra?
“Every element of the universe is in a constant state of vibration manifested to us as light, sound and energy. The human sense perceive only a fraction of the infinite range of vibration, so it is difficult to comprehened that the Word mentioned in the bible is actually the totality of vibration which underlies and sustains all creation. A person can tune his or her own consciousness into the awareness of that totality with the use of a mantra. By vibrating in rhythm with the breath to a particular sound that is proportional to the creative sound, or sound current, one can expand one’s sensitivity to the entire spectrum of vibration. It is similar to striking a note on a stringed instrument. In other words, as you vibrate, the universe vibrates with you.” ~Yogi Bhajan
Chanting a mantra either silently or out loud is a method of directing the mind. All of our emotions (sorrow, joy, bitterness, elation) are vibratory frequencies. You can call them beliefs, attitudes, whatever you want, but fundamentally they are vibratory patterns and the determine the program played by our mind. So much of what we interact with as “reality” is the program our mind is playing. Our vibratory pattern determines how we feel about everything that we are experiencing. We can choose of course, how we feel in any moment by choosing our thoughts and helping that thought to be dominant.
We chant constantly, even if we aren’t aware of it. Chanting can look like “I’m fat, I’m so fat, I’m too fat for anything or anyone” if that is what we are replaying in our brain. If every other word out of our mouth is “I don’t have enough money for (fill in the blank)” then that, too, is the vibratory pattern we are sending across our minds. When we consciously chant a mantra we are invoking its specific vibratory resonance and placing it into our mind’s field. So if the mantra is for prosperity, peace, happiness, intuition or any multitude of other marvelous things, that is the vibratory pattern we are establishing in our field. It doesn’t actually matter if we know the meaning of the mantra; it will still have an effect. The sounds themselves are encoded with meaning and vibratory range. Huh? Yup. It’s not all about belief. Nor is it placebo. It’s a matter of the universe itself using certain frequencies to manifest things. Mantras were developed by those who could hear and understand the language of the universe. They then blossomed forth these combination of sounds to harness specific vibratory patterns and allow us to mirror them back to the universe in its own language of sound, light and energy.
A deep understanding of mantra requires a deep understanding of our world. Everything is energy. Everything is vibrating energy. Even those things like rocks, cars, and wood piles are vibrating, not just you, me and musical notes. Everything is zinging away on a frequency. Some vibrations are high; some are low. The highest vibration of all is that which some call God and other call “The Universe” or “Universal Love Intelligence” or “All That Is” or “A Higher Power.” The name itself doesn’t matter, only its high vibratory field. The higher we vibrate the closer we come to union with it. We literally raise our own vibrations to sync up with the highest vibration of all. And this union is the entire meaning of “Yoga”, which is why in Kundalini yoga, mantra and chanting are so highly prized.
The Science Behind Mantra
For some, this can all seem a bit too woo-woo. So how does it all really work? Naad Yoga, as chanting mantra has been known for thousands of years, works through the combination of tongue movement, language and chemical changes. You have to remember that there are no wires connecting the sections of the brain. All communication within the brain is done through neurotransmission fluid. Chemical liquids are sent to one part of the brain from other. Yogis called this neurotransmission fluid naad namodam rasaa, meaning harmony addressing juice. When you change the chemical composition of the “juice”, you change the taste of the punch. You alter your state of mind, your personality, your projection. It’s neuropeptides, baby.
The tongue as it moves in chanting hits the upper palate of the mouth. There are 84 meridian points located at the roof of the mouth. 32 pairs of points (64) are located on the hard palate directly behind each tooth. The other 20 are located in a “U” shape along the central part of the palate. Each mouth has its points is a slightly different spot as the shape of our mouths are unique, but the general placement in this pattern is universal. As you stimulate each meridian point, it sends signals to the hypothalamus. Just like you’re typing on a computer. Clickity-clack, go your fingers and the computer responds. Clickity-clack-chant, goes your tongue, and your hypothalamus responds. The hypothalamus programs the chemicals that go into your brain. It is connected to the pituitary gland by blood vessels and regulates moods, emotional behavior, sexuality and even physical things like hunger and sleep. Special patterns within mantra stimulates the hypothalamus to change the chemistry of the brain in specific ways. You can strengthen the immune system, balance different parts of the brain, regulate sleep hormones, etc. Emotionally, chanting can open huge blocks. You can overcome depression, enhance your intuition, and simply all around feel good.
How to Make Mantra Really Effective
Rhythm, Projection, and Pronunciation: for really effective mantra meditation you need all three. Maintain a precise rhythm (most Kundalini mantras are in 8 beats), project from your soul (really put your all into it), and maintain correct pronunciation (the science of how your tongue hits the upper palate is important.)
What Does Effective Chanting Feel Like?
The Anahat, or unstruck sound. When your entire body is tuned into the vibration, your central nervous system is responding and your ik tara, or one-star, the main vagus nerve which acts as the tuning fork for the rest of your nervous system comes into alignment with the vibration of the mantra, the mantra vibrates within you WITHOUT you chanting. It is when the unstruck sound or Anahat vibrates within you that you achieve a state of joy, totality, peace, inner strength, intuition and an absolute attunement to the Infinite. In other words, the Anahat is magical. You can hear the sound behind the silence and feel the unseen hand behind the seen.
Why are the mantras used in Kundalini yoga Sikh?
Well, first of all, not all of them are. The mantras used in Kundalini yoga are all effective mantras but not necessarily Sikh mantras. “God and me, me and God are one” is in English, but it is still an effective 8 part Ashtang mantra. There are effective mantras in Gurmukhi, Sanskrit, Hebrew, English and many other languages. Many of the mantras used in Kundalini Yoga are Sikh because of the technical perfection of the mantras within the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, or holy Sikh word. This source captured the Shabd Guru, the energy within sound that changes us at our very core, with unique perfection. The patterns within the Shabd Guru are rhythm, sound, tone, focus and they all come together to create what Yogi Bhajan called “information DNA for the spirit”.
More about the Shabd Guru
Shabd means sound, but in its essence means cutting off the ego (Sha=ego, bd=cut out). It references the the Guru, or the teacher/energy/spirit, that cuts us off from our ego, allowing us to merge with our Infinite Self. Each of the ten Sikh Gurus embodied the Shabd Guru within very distinct personalities, yet despite all of their many differences, they were all one Light. They sang Shabds, or songs, that had the power to reach beyond time and space and merge one with the Infinite. You do NOT have to be a Sikh to chant a Shabd. It is a technology that everyone can use to feel better and connect with Divinity. Who “creates” a Shabd then? They were created at the beginning of the Universe and exist within the Anahat. Those who can hear the sound behind the sound, such as the ten Sikh Gurus, pulled these energies from the unstruck sound and put them into the poetic compositions that make up the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Siri means Great. Guru means Teacher or transformational energy. Granth means Knot. It is a knot that binds together patterns of great transformational energy.
Is mantra really quantum technology?
Yup. It’s that amazing and radical and transformative and cellularly effective. The Shabd Guru, that which we chant in mantra, is the scientific application of sound. It changes the neurotransmitters in the brain, impacts the quantum patterns within our cells changing the blueprint for our physical regeneration. You don’t need to take our word for this, though. Time and science will catch up to these statements. They already are, in institutions as respected as Harvard, UPENN, and UCLA. You don’t need to understand science to understand how you feel. Chant mantra, let the sound current move through you. See if you are changed. See if you don’t feel better. Affirmations are good and help. Mantras are good and effective. Using the entire technology of the Shabd Guru is master class. Not every combination of sounds will work. Not every combination of patterns on the tongue will bring a feeling of wholeness to you. You will be able to experience the science of mantra directly, using the path laid for you by other yogis.
Remember to Listen
It’s not all about chanting. Sometimes its about listening, too. So remember to actively listen to mantra as well. Using your whole brain to soak up the sound is very effective as well.
Just a few common mantras in Kundalini Yoga worth your attention:
From Harijiwan at Golden Bridge