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The Science of Chanting

"Your real strength is not in your muscles. Your real strength is in your chemical communication system of the brain. The brain does not connect only through nerve pathways; there are chemical solutions that communicate between the different areas of the brain, which gives us our ability. This was known to the yogis before 1000 BC. They could look into the areas of the body and view its strength, flow and projection. The yogis developed a science to adjust and circulate the chemicals of the brain. They called the science Naad Namodam Rasa: Naad means communication, both gross and subtle; Namodam means to address someone; Rasa means juice or healing secretion. This was the science of how to adjust the communication through the inner juices." – Yogi Bhajan

Thus, the basic idea of Naad Namodam Rasa is that through the repetition of certain sound combinations and words, one is able to dial into identifiable states of consciousness. These states of consciousness lead to direct knowledge and experience of reality. The words that are used are called mantras. Mantra can be broken down into two parts: man is a root syllable which literally means “mind”, and tra is a root syllable that means “wave”. So to practice mantra yoga is simply to repeat sacred words that create waves in the mind.

In other words, mantras are energy templates that serve as powerful neuro-stimulators to activate and connect the various areas of the brain. These patterns allow a positive change in the cellular basis of our consciousness. They have an infinite component which connects deeply with that part of us that longs for infinity. By chanting the vibratory emanations of saints and sages who were absorbed in the ecstasy of infinity, we stimulate similar patterns of neurons which create in us the same states of consciousness – or if you will, the same brain chemistry experienced by those saint poets and bhaktas of old. This creates Gyan, a state of wisdom or knowledge.

Mental Patterns

"Man makes the habits, and habits make the man." – Yogi Bhajan

We as human beings have a subconscious mind that records our every word and action. Even when we are in the womb, we are already beginning to pick up patterns of speech, musical vibrations, and other outer stimuli as well as a dance of communication between the mother and child. In yogic humanology this begins at the 120th day when the soul enters the body.

When the baby is born, a more conscious effort begins. Language is learned, which powerfully affects the thought patterns of the speaker. Self-worth patterns are gleaned from parents, siblings, family and friends. Patterns are learned from authority figures such as teachers and governments and so on. As we grow older, patterns of speech and actions get repeated and thus create the people we are. Even patterns of breathing are learned and repeated minute to minute (which will be further explained in the post on Pavwan Guru). In fact, the yogis would say that the problems and solutions to the human condition all revolve around the subconscious mind and its learned patterns.

Let’s reflect for a moment on how many important aspects of life are likely to be governed by these learned habits of thought, speech and actions.

As much as our parents may have loved us, we all carry issues from various defects or strengths in our parents’ characters. From these parental relationships we may carry father or mother phobias. The possibilities are nearly endless. A weak, indecisive father or perhaps a domineering, violent father could create certain phobias in the child. An untrustworthy mother who could not keep her word would create other phobias. Children who never receive attention from their parents or approval for positive accomplishments could have patterns of seeking external approval later in life – sometimes to the fault of lacking trust in their own judgement and abilities and believing they need constant approval from others to feel validated. A child who grows up without one or the other parent may need the attention of another man or woman to feel completed.

All of these and so many more are examples of patterns which are stored in the subconscious mind that can create blockages to success in terms of prosperity, learning, relationships and communication throughout life. Ultimately it is the human condition, as we as parents, relatives, teachers, etc. all have flaws of one kind or another. It is impossible not to pass some of these patterns along.

The beauty of mantra yoga is that, through the use of the frequency of sound and language, we can actually recondition our patterning to create who we want to be. If fear holds us back in life, we can vibrate mantras that re-pattern the brain chemistry to make us fearless. If we are prone to depression we can chant mantras that stimulate conditions in the mind to create joy and contentment.

Is it magic? No, although to me it is magical. It is science. It is cause and effect. It is as beautiful as the design and function of the human body/mind continuum and the creation as a whole. It is fundamental to our experience as humans. So how does it work?

How Mantra Works

In the yogic view of the human body there are two kinds of caves, or Guphas. One is called the Bij Gupha. Bij means “seed”. The cave referred to is the womb of the woman. When the seed is planted in the womb by the male organ, it creates a baby. This is a fairly common thing we can do, judging from the nearly 7 billion inhabitants we are soon to be on the planet.

The Gyan Gupha refers to the mouth and how the parts of the mouth connect with the chemistry of the brain. Gyan means “knowledge” or “wisdom”. The concept is that when the tongue begins to engage in the action of chanting, it gets stiff and creates an “intercourse” with the cavern of the mouth, which begins to trigger rhythmic impulses to the thymus and hypothalamus gland, and this also creates patterns of electrical impulses in various parts of the brain that lead to special chemical secretions. These reactions to mantra open the consciousness to knowledge.

Therefore, one cave creates a human, and the other cave creates wisdom or gyan in the human. To understand this more in depth, we must look at the apparatus we use to create language and its effects on the human brain.