The science of sound in the ancient yoga tradition is both vast and profound. In Sanskrit, mantra literally means “sound tool.” A mantra is a tool of sound for the mind, one that brings about a healing and meditative state in the yogi. In Hinduism, mantras are said to invoke various powers, including that of the gods and goddesses.
Combining music with mantra can take the practice of meditation to a whole new level. Since reciting mantras can be difficult for non-Sanskrit speakers, adding trance-like music to mantras can help us better integrate this transformative practice into our lives.
Some of the first Western musicians to harness the power of music and mantra were The Beatles. The Beatles found inspiration in the Hindu tradition, finding moments of deep peace within the divine seed sounds of mantras. They were seeking transformation in their musical artistry and discovered it when they seamlessly wove together the magic of their own music with the spiritual sounds of mantras. By doing so, they were able to bring the sounds of mantras to the mainstream.
Benefits of Mantra Music
When mantras and music come together, they create deeply moving melodies and harmonies that elevate our consciousness. Have you ever sat in front of your computer, wanting desperately to write something beautiful, but were stuck in your head and distracted by worrisome thoughts? Then you put on a piece of mantra music and begin typing away? The music and the mantra together light up your creative and intuitive right brain, which gets the artistic juices flowing. Try this next time you need to work on a project, write a poem, or even just an e-mail. You might be surprised how your brain seems to light up almost instantaneously with inspiration. (Learn more in The Sacred Meaning of Mantras.)
Flows with Asana Practice
The mantra and music combo is also great for asana practice. Yoga practice flows with mantra music. You can easily lose track of time, getting lost in the body, the breath, the music, the movement and the sound. It’s a gorgeous place to be.
All of us can benefit from the healing sounds of mantra and melody. This is where mantra and music are so innately intelligent. In states of transcendence, both sides of the brain begin to work harmoniously together. This doesn’t happen in other states of consciousness. In typical awareness states, each side of the brain works separately. But in a state of transcendent awareness, the right and left brain synchronize, helping us tap into higher levels of wisdom, intuition, creativity and problem solving.
Mixing mantra and music will transport you to higher states of awareness. These sounds penetrate all the way to our souls, and have a uniquely healing power, unlike mantra by itself or music by itself. Mantra music works to relieve stress and promote a deep sense of well-being. The therapeutic nature of music and mantra cannot be overstated. When these two sound tools come together, a spiritual awakening can happen.
When yogis come together to practice kirtan (ancient chants sung in Sanskrit), everyone gets to sing along, experiencing the heart-opening effects of mantra and music. Making music brings people together, and making music that’s steeped with healing and transformative energy is divine. (Learn Ong So Hung: A Heart-Opening Mantra.)
There’s good reason kirtan is becoming a phenomenon in the West. We’re all looking for experiences of transcendence, especially as much of our modern existence has become drenched in unfulfilling material matters. We all want to feel deeply connected, and music with mantra helps us come together to experience a profound connection that we don’t get when we’re chanting mantras by ourselves or listening to music on its own. (Learn Our 4 Favorite Chants.)
There’s a synergy that occurs when large groups of people come together to create mantra music. Hearts open, souls are penetrated, and divine energy fills our spirits. We connect to our higher Self and to the Absolute Reality of love that surrounds us. The experience of kirtan becomes a journey deep into our soul, and we come out of it feeling profoundly peaceful and blissful. (Experience A Meditation on The Universal Self.)
If you’ve not yet explored the vast world of music and mantra, and you're longing to experience some soul healing, now is the time to do some research. Try getting a kirtan CD or even attending a kirtan concert. See what magic arises when you experience these two powerful arts in divine synchronicity.