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The Yoga of Sound

The Yoga of Sound

(New World Library)


     Medical research now validates immense physiological benefits from chanting: lowered blood pressure, stabilized heart rate, improved circulation and the production of endorphins, which are body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers.

Music, too, is wonderfully therapeutic and employed in a wide range of therapeutic applications today, including the treatment of Alzheimer's, sleep disorders and autism. The therapeutic use of music is a tradition that can be traced back to Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine.

Medical science also validates the benefits of meditation in supporting healing processes that are preventive as well as curative.

Now, when you take the tremendous appeal of yoga and the growing millions of practitioners across America, and you combine all these approaches (chanting + therapeutic music + meditation + yoga), you get The Yoga of Sound (New World Library, May 2006), a holistic and evolutionary approach that addresses several unhealthy conditions of modern living and offers a “sound solution” to its problems.

     Yoga is a term that points to an ideal state in which the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of health come together. Many are the paths toward that end and each is a “type” of yoga.

Nada Yoga is a historically documented tradition of using sound as a yoga practice to awaken energy and consciousness in an individual. While this might have sounded esoteric at one time, we are fast realizing today that health is not simply the absence of disease but a vibrancy that encompasses the full person: energy and consciousness are both vital to waking up our cellular brains.

     To cope with the stresses of life, a large number of people use chemical stimulants, antidepressants, alcohol, caffeine, and the like. These solutions come with a price to our health with side effects that range from accumulated acidity in the body to chemical dependency and mood swings.

Now, imagine a pharmacy selling miracle drugs that millions of people have been using for thousands of years with no side effects. Imagine that these fantastic mood enhancers transform negative emotions into a positive force, efficiently release accumulated toxic energy stored in the body, provide a sense of mental spaciousness, effectively calm nerves in stressful situations, and rapidly replenish energy supply when the body is tired. Mantras can do this and more.

     Mantras do more than help us cope with stress; they make us come alive. Unlike chemical stimulants, these spiritual organics are not passively imbibed or ingested, but are actively employed and personally digested in the fire of our soul’s yearning for a connectedness to the deep pulse of life itself.

Even just listening to these spiritual pharmaceuticals can make us feel younger because they connect us to our source. Most importantly, they are not addictive. We can choose how much and how strongly we want to use them at a given time, depending on circumstances.

     What are these strange sounds and how do we trust them? My argument is that if we can trust the chemical ingredients listed on the packaging of prescription drugs, then mantras are safer to use, and perhaps easier to pronounce.

Each year in the United States, billions of doses of tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and painkillers are prescribed, while hundreds of billions of dollars are lost by American industry from stress related absenteeism, preventable illnesses and the abuse of prescription drugs. Is this our solution to vibrant health?

     To trust mantras we may consider that they come from the very same culture that gave us Yoga, Ayurveda (the world’s oldest medical system), and our numeric system, including the discovery of the zero, which in world of mathematics is akin to the discovery of fire.

While some may argue that mantras come from an alien culture, we must bear in mind that mantras are constructed utilizing the Sanskrit language, which, most interestingly, is a source language for both Latin as well as Greek, from which most European languages are derived.

In fact, linguists agree that Sanskrit is perhaps the closest living language we have to Proto-Indo-European, the mother of all European languages.

     Add to that current medical research that reveals a network of acupuncture-like meridians that originate in the palate and are stimulated by inflections in speech. Sanskrit’s extraordinary phonetic range promises a tremendous power to influence our physical as well as spiritual immunity. The therapeutic powers of mantra may well prove to be as valuable to integrative medicine as mathematics is to science.

     To get a “taste” of mantra, try “Om Shaanthi”, the mantra for peace, when you feel anxious or disturbed. When your energy is low, or fear creeps in, try “Om Shuckthi” the mantra for “power” and energy. Place tongue tip between teeth for the “thi” in both cases.

If you are ready for more, read The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power in Chant and Music. It explains the spiritual technology of mantra and its wide scope of therapeutic applications that address many conditions of modern living that stand in the way of vibrant health.

It seeks out the functional value of ancient wisdom and presents it to the modern reader with supportive research from many contemporary disciplines.

     Russill Paul is the author of The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power in Chant and Music (New World Library, May 2006) and serves on the faculty of The University of Creation Spirituality / Naropa Institute West. He is a world-renowned musician, blending Indian and contemporary music in his recordings and performances.

Based on the book The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power in Chant and Music © 2006 by Russill Paul.

Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. or 800-972-6657 ext. 52.

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