This post by Amarjit Singh originally appeared in DoYouYoga.com on June 7, 2015.
Mantras are repetitive sounds used to penetrate the depths of the unconscious mind and adjust the vibration of all aspects of your being. Mantras are vibrated through chanting aloud, mental practice, or by listening to them.
The experience of how sound vibrations effect your being is Naad yoga. Naad means “the essence of sound” and yoga means “union.” Naad yoga uses sound vibrations to raise your consciousness and tune into the sound that began creation and is constantly vibrating. This universal sound is known as Anahat.
In yoga, mantras are typically chanted in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word mantra is derived from the root of man which means “to think,” and tra from trai which means “to protect or to free from bondage” or “to free from the mind.”
In Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhagan, most mantras are recited in Gurmukhi. The words guru-mukh literally mean “from the mouth of the guru.” Although mantras can be chanted in any language, certain languages are designed to have more of an impact in creating targeted psychological and spiritual effects.
How Mantras Impact You
1. Chanting mantras stimulates the endocrine system.
The act of your tongue pressing against the palate of the mouth stimulates the hypothalamus, thalamus, and pituitary. When you recite a mantra, you hit the palate with your tongue. In the palate, there are 84 meridian points: 64 in the hard palate and 20 in the soft palate.
This vibration emanating from the hypothalamus directs the actions of the pituitary gland and governs the endocrine systems. It is also in charge of releasing chemicals and hormones throughout the body and to the brain. This vibration releases chemical hormones that balance the body and have healing effects.
Moreover, the pituitary gland is stimulated through the tongue, hitting the different meridian points. Interestingly, the pituitary gland is formed in the fetus from cells of the roof of the mouth that rise into the brain. This is why pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth stimulates the gland.
2. Chanting mantras help focus your attention.
Often when we sit down to meditate our mind jumps from thought to thought, making it difficult to focus our attention. Chanting distracts the mind from frivolous thoughts, helping to anchor the mind in concentration.
3. Chanting mantras is an effective way to release emotion.
Emotion that is not accepted represents an aspect of the self that is being judged. This emotion causes sensations in the body that you either crave or have an aversion to.
Either way, you are reacting and reinforcing the pattern. Chanting is an excellent way to let go of the reaction to the sensation through the throat and heart chakras; in essence, releasing the emotion through self-expression.
4. Mantras align your vibration to create awareness.
The vibrations from mantras have the power to rearrange your molecular structure. Each sound has a distinct vibration, and as a result, each mantra has a different effect. All sound affects your molecular structure.
Furthermore, all your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions impact your consciousness. Think about how certain music puts you into a particular mood. Or consider how you feel when there is a lot of noise or when someone is yelling. Mantras are designed to adjust your experience through the subtle vibrations they cause in your being. Each mantra is designed to have a distinct effect.
5. Mantras adjust your vibration, aligning your awareness with aspects of the self and the infinite.
Everything you seek is within. When you feel that you are not experiencing something, it is because you are not tuned into its vibration. When you are vibrating something, you are tuned into it.
For example, if you are vibrating love, you will see it everywhere. If you are not, this vibration lacks. This is also how you are attracted to people and how you can experience that alignment with your karmic vibration.
6. If you want to overcome your karma, change your vibration.
Chanting a mantra tunes you into the experience of the particular mantra. This alignment allows you to experience this vibration by becoming the vibration. The more sensitive you are, the deeper you will experience the effects. Also, the longer and more focused you chant the mantra, the more impact it will have on your consciousness.
It is not only mantras that have a strong impact on your being, but every vibration is crucial. When you think negatively, you create a subtle vibration. The longer this vibration persists, the more it effects your being; the vibration of the thought then creates an emotional vibration, which generates a vibration in the physical body. This is where all the sensations come from in the body.
When we talk about blocks in the physical or subtle body, such as in the chakras or the nadis where the prana flows, we are referring to areas where the vibration is out of alignment; areas that are vibrating slower than they should and where the flow of vital energy is impeded.
The same way that chanting mantras impacts your being, so do your thoughts, words, and actions. This is how habit in your life become patterns. You create vibrations and then, consciously and unconsciously, you react to them. Repeating mantras can help liberate you from these ingrained patterns.