In the Ayurvedic tradition, each of the five elements relates directly to one of the five senses. Ether is the element that is associated with sound, and every sound carries a special vibration that can be classified as one of the Doshas: Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. When used in certain ways, sounds become powerful mantras.
The sounds of Vata, which include talking, change a lot and vary in pitch. Pitta sounds are sharp and steady. Kapha sounds are slow, smooth and monotonous. They each balance and serve us in their own way.
When used correctly, all of the sounds can affect our state of mind and overall emotional health! Sounds can also provide a balancing (or unbalancing) effect on the Doshas. Because of this, it’s essential to use proper pronunciation when repeating mantras to generate the highest possible vibrational frequency and purify your physical and mental body.
The Power of Sound
A mantra is, basically, a sacred word, sound, or phrase. Mantras are often in the Sanskrit language, which is believed to have a spiritual and psychological power. (Though really a mantra can be any spiritual, positive sound that reminds you of your Highest Self.) Mantra means “tool of thought” in Sanskrit and they're typically used in meditation as a way to harness the power of the mind and focus your thoughts.
The ancient Indian mystics who first cultivated Ayurveda knew that sounds reverberate powerfully in our bodies as we speak or hear them. These mystics actually used the special intonations for medicinal purposes, and people who practice Ayurveda continue to this day.
One way that sound healing is used in Ayurveda today is to repeat a mantra that heals a particular organ. Repeating the organ-specific mantra sends healing energy to that particular point in the body. Luckily for us, each sound in the Sanskrit alphabet is associated with healing a particular part of the body. When you repeat these Sanskrit syllables over and over again, the targeted organs, bodily systems, and tissues are rejuvenated.
The most basic mantra is Om, as you may already know. It’s said that the universe arose from Om. Most of us have tried the Om at least once in our lives. Om is the "primordial sound," so Om is at the beginning of nearly every Sanskrit mantra, and often at the end too. For example: Om Shanti, Om Gurudev or Om Shakti Om.
Repeating a mantra can be practiced anywhere by anyone, there are many to choose from. Pick one that resonates with the intentions you have for your life, it doesn't necessarily have to be one in Sanskrit.
The Basics of Using A Mantra
For thousands of years, those seeking enlightenment and practicing devotion have chanted the name of their object of devotion. This mantra is typically about or directed toward their guru or to a specific deity they choose to worship.
Traditionally, a mantra was passed down from a guru, a spiritual teacher, to their student. Wherever the students traveled, they recited their given mantra as to stay connected with their guru and spiritual tradition. In our modern times there are still many spiritual lineages that have a particular mantra to chant.
Mantras are also used as a form of protection. As the students connect with their Self through chanting their mantra, they have faith that they are being taken care of by their Higher Power. Students under the same guru often gather together to chant their mantra to increase the power and effect of the sounds.
Somer religions also promote prayer beads or malas when repeating a mantra. It keeps the mind focused on reciting the mantra and is also used to say the mantras a certain number of auspicious times, such as 108. Prayer beads help to calm Vata Dosha and balance the critical Pitta mindset. Traditionally, a mantra is repeated 108, 54 or 27 times.
Mantras can be chanted out loud or internally. Both methods have certain benefits: when chanted out loud, a mantra impacts our external environment and internal environment. When repeated silently, the mantra calms our mind and cellular makeup.
In Ayurveda, someone's dominant Dosha will effect the way they use a mantra. Vata types or those with excess Vata may recite mantras quickly and have an inconsistent practice. Pitta types can be loud and focused in their mantra practice. Kapha people might chant slowly and once they have a mantra, they won't want to ever change it.
If you’ve never repeated a mantra, give it a try for two weeks to a month and pay attention to emotional, mental and physical changes. Having a mantra can be life-changing! Chant a mantra during your meditation practice or just while you're going about your day, at work or walking around (perhaps internally).
If you already have a regular mantra practice, try and reflect even deeper on your current mantras and how they have each changed your life in different ways.
Develop a mantra and use it as a tool to restore and maintain balance in your life. Mantras are powerful in balancing the Doshas, in particular calming excess Vata and excess Pitta. If you experience extreme emotions, such as anxiety, depression and rage, a mantra could be a powerful healing tool.
All views and information shared here is only for the sharing of Ayurvedic knowledge. Please do not try or prescribe or take any of the remedies and suggestions here without talking to your regular, qualified doctor. Kottakkal Ayurveda and no other person associated with Kottakkal is responsible for unwanted side-effects or contraindications in your health.