What are the chakra sounds?
Have you ever been moved to tears, transported to a moment in time, inspired, calmed down, or fired up by a song? Throughout history, music has possessed the power to transform…
Music is believed to connect the physical, emotional and spiritual – instantly and indefinitely. It can change one’s mood, invoke the release of neurotransmitters (including dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine, cortisol, endorphins, etc), and affects the nervous system.
Music therapy has been shown to promote health, positive mood and experiences, rest and healing, physical and emotional tolerance, feelings of connection with others, and increased memory and cognitive functioning.
Bonus for actually making the music – singing or playing an instrument engages both sides of the brain and amplifies the ability to process information!
It’s not only music – certain sounds can produce instantaneous transformation.
Traditional singing bowls, chimes and tuning forks are valuable way beyond their external beauty and lovely tones. They connect with something deep inside of us. Have you felt it?
Simple humming affects us physically – reduces stress, induces calmness, enhances sleep, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, produces those powerful neurochemicals and stimulates the vagus nerve. Try it!
If you’ve chanted during a yoga or meditation class, or on your own, you may have experienced a profound sense of peace. Yeah?
In this article, we’ll unpack:
- How and why repetitive sound affects the brain
- The roots of mantra
- Resonance and its relevance to the chakras
- Chanting and…
- The Seven Chakra Sounds!
Your Brain on Mantra
For thousands of years, yogis have known that mantra (or japa), whether chanted, whispered, or silently recited, to be a powerful tool for meditation and therapy. Western science is catching up.
Neuroscientists, equipped with advanced brain-imaging tools, are confirming some of the health benefits of this ancient practice, such as its ability to help clear your mind and calm your nervous system.
From a mental health perspective, an overactive default mode network – the area of the brain that’s active during self-reflection when the mind is wandering – can mean that the brain is distracted.
In a recent study, researchers measured activity in this region to determine how practicing mantra meditation affects the brain. A group of subjects recited a mantra while their hands were placed over their hearts. Their default mode networks were suppressed during the mantra meditation – and suppression grew as mantra training increased.
The Roots of Mantra
The word mantra is derived from two Sanskrit words — manas (mind) and tra (tool). Mantra literally means “a tool for the mind,” and was designed to help practitioners access their true natures and a higher power.
Mantra is a sound vibration through which we mindfully focus our thoughts, our feelings, and our highest intention.Musical artist Girish
Eventually, that vibration sinks deeper and deeper into your consciousness, helping you to feel its presence as shakti — a powerful, subtle force inside each of us that carries us into deeper states of awareness.
Ancient to Modern
Western science is on board with what the ancient yogis have known for millennia: Sound has the power to heal. How?
Chakras store information – emotional and spiritual – and resonate with different frequencies and tones. So working with the seven main Chakra sounds can release negative energy as well as align the centers.
What are the Seven Main Chakras?
The Sanskrit word chakra translates to “wheel” or “disc.” The chakras are spinning vortexes of energy which radiate from a subtle energetic pathway within the spinal column. Beginning at the base of the spine and ending at the crown of the head, the seven main chakras are the bridge between the body and universal consciousness – they connect the body, mind, and soul.
The mind is projected through these wheels, which reflects in the way one experiences reality according to emotions, and manifests in physical symptoms often labeled wellness or illness, abundance or deficiency. These symptoms and emotions always come full circle, illustrating the ever-changing, impermanent nature of everything.
Physically, each of the major chakras is associated with different parts of the body, organs, a nerve plexus, an endocrine gland – and therefore emotions. In the subtle realm, elements are prescribed to each energy center as are scents, crystals, colors, and… sounds.
The chakras work together to maintain balance as they spin clockwise at various speeds which cause them to vibrate at different frequencies that invoke their associated color and sound.
Once a mystical way to balance body, mind, and spirit – working with the seven chakra sounds has found its place in the modern world.
Before we immerse in these magical mantras, we need to talk about resonance.
What is Resonance and What Does It Have to Do with the Chakras?
The venerable mystics have always known that everything – including our mind and body – is constantly vibrating. The chakras influence our personal vibration immensely.
Two primary elements of vibration are sound and color. Each chakra is associated with a unique combination of these. There are optimum ranges of vibration called resonance. When we are in resonance, we are in balance.
We can influence the resonance of the body with sound through balancing the chakras. Every cell in the body absorbs and emits sound with a specific frequency.
Ready to rock your personal resonance and amplify your efficiency through chakra meditation?
When we repeat the chakra sounds, we receive the benefits of both singing and deep breathing, absorb the beautiful qualities upon which we focus, connect with the elements and process the experiences of our lives.
To chant the bija mantras – the seed syllable or sound of each chakra:
1. Find a comfortable position, just as you would for meditation. This may be seated or lying down – as long as the spine, and therefore the central energy channel is relatively straight allowing for chakra alignment and energy flow.
2. Experiment to find a natural tone of voice. No straining, for a high or low pitch, is necessary. You can even repeat the chakra sounds silently.
3. Let the sound slowly carry out for the duration of your breath. Think equal exhalation and syllable, repeating the mantra each time you exhale.
4. When thoughts or feelings enter your mind, notice them and then return to reciting the mantra.
5. Feel for resonance. For all the science, it’s not an exact science!
6. Choose to work with a specific chakra sound according to how you’re feeling, the balance you’re striving to strike, healing and growing you’re seeking…
7. Or chant each sound. Start at the root and move up to raise the energy, or start at the top and move down to ground.
There is no wrong way or order to chant the bija mantras. Mindfulness is the only crucial element – listen to your body as you work with the sounds.
The Seven Chakra Sounds
Behold the Chakra sounds, their element, color, energy and action – from root to crown.
Note: the “a” in “Lam”, and the other seed syllables, is pronounced “ah,” or “uh.”
#1 – Muladhara
Muladhara | mula – root; adhara – base or foundation
The Root Chakra, situated at the base of the spine, is all about grounding. Linked to our survival instincts and our ability to root ourselves in the physical world. It’s seen as the center of vital life force and the seat of kundalini – the dormant energy within us which stays coiled until waking to distribute its energy through the whole chakra system. Chant Lam, the sound of the first chakra, to invoke stability.
- Translation: Root Chakra
- Sound: Lam
- Element: Earth
- Colour: Red
- Energy: Safe, grounded
- Affirmation: I am
#2 – Svadisthana
Svadhishthana | sva – self; shthana – place
The Sacral Chakra, located just below the navel, is the center of creativity. Core beliefs are formed within and our desires, passions, and imagination are expressed through this energy center. Choose Vam, the sound of the second chakra, when seeking flow and flexible energy.
- Translation: Sacral Chakra
- Sound: Vam
- Element: Water
- Colour: Orange
- Energy: In the flow
- Affirmation: I feel
#3 – Manipura
Manipura | mani – jewel; pura – city or place
Located just above the navel, the Solar Plexus Chakra unites us with the sun and affects confidence. Here lies your personal power and expression of will, power, and determination. Chant Ram, the third chakra sound, when seeking fiery energy!
- Translation: Solar Plexus Chakra
- Sound: Ram
- Element: Fire
- Colour: Yellow
- Energy: Self-mastery
- Affirmation: I do
#4 – Anahata
Anahata | unstuck, unbeaten, or unhurt
The Heart Chakra, in the center of the chest, fuels compassion towards the self and others. Unique because it’s the connection between the three lower chakras and the three higher chakras. At the essence of this chakra is potent energy with the power to illuminate the compassion, love, and beauty in life. Chant Yam, the sound of the fourth chakra, to encompass the beauty of love – to give and receive.
- Translation: Heart Chakra
- Sound: Yam
- Element: Air
- Colour: Green
- Energy: Love, the drum that needs no drummer
- Affirmation: I love
#5 – Vishuddha
Vishuddha | visha – impurity or poison; suddhi – purify
The Throat Chakra is the center of communication, expression, authenticity, and purification. Here is where we summon the power to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in. Chant the fifth chakra sound, Ham, to activate this energy center.
- Translation: Throat Chakra
- Sound: Ham
- Element: Ether
- Colour: Blue
- Energy: Creativity, expression, purification
- Affirmation: I speak
#6 – Ajna
Ajna | command, or the higher understanding that guides our actions
The Third Eye Chakra is home to intuition, vision, and self-knowing. This energy center represents wisdom and awakening. The sixth chakra sound, Aum, is potent for accessing the magic within.
- Translation: Third Eye Chakra
- Sound: Aum
- Element: Transcendent
- Colour: Indigo
- Energy: Mind
- Affirmation: I see
#7 – Sahasrara
Sahasrara | infinite
The Crown Chakra is where we commune with the Divine. Qualities represented here include self-transcendence, oneness, and merging with the infinite. Here we simply listen, in silence – to hear our connection to all and the Divine within.
- Translation: Crown Chakra
- Sound: Instead of chanting, just listen
- Element: Nothing, everything, all that is between and beyond that
- Colour: Violet
- Affirmation: I know
How to Get Down with Mantra
Consistency is key, regardless of the mantra you choose.
You enliven a mantra through regular practice over a period of time — months or even years. It’s a bit like rubbing a flint against a stone to strike fire. The friction of the syllables inside your consciousness, the focus of bringing yourself back to the mantra again and again, and especially the attention you give to the felt sense of the mantra’s resonance inside your awareness will eventually open the energy in the mantra, and it will stop being just words and become a living energy that you’ll feel shifting your inner state.Sally Kempton, meditation teacher and author
Schedule in practice every day — potentially building up to 20 minutes or even more. Several traditions suggest sticking with one mantra or set of mantras, for at least a few months before switching to another, in order to deepen your practice and cultivate a sense of ease, presence and peace.
You have to practice, often for quite a while, before a mantra really opens for you.Sally Kempton
Take some time to experiment with these sounds. Will you integrate them into your existing practices or utilize them on their own? How might you use them to benefit your emotional needs, the needs of your nervous system and your whole body?
Many find chanting the chakra sounds useful for invoking presence – or dropping out of the mind, into the body – and observing past and present experiences, cleansing perceived obstacles or weaknesses and realizing and harnessing strengths.
Keeping a journal of reflections is a powerful practice for checking in with yourself, discovering patterns, realising insights and tracking progress in order to make transformational changes. Do you access deeper connection, stronger power, or greater release with certain chakra sounds than others? What do you notice during and how do you feel after chanting?
Want to expand your knowledge of the chakras?
Check out our chakra resources!