Music or sound therapy, otherwise called bio-waves or mantra, are all vibrations that can move you to tears, lift your spirits up, bring back beautiful memories, make you deliriously happy, or even rouse violent emotions.
Mantras are particular sounds, or groups of sounds, which are used for tuning and centering auditory perception in such a way that the precise intoning of the selected sounds can induce a definite state of consciousness.
The mantra may be spoken aloud, or repeated using the vocal chords silently, or heard only in the mind. Mantras represent one of the tantric tools of transformation and integration. It can, therefore, be developed to transmute a sensory experience from a binding to a liberating role.
Pathways of healing
Ayurveda recommends mantras as intensive therapy in many conditions. Sceptics, however, argue that mantras are merely psychological, or just a placebo effect. It has got nothing to do with science. Can it be evaluated? What really works – faith, vibration, frequency, sound waves pattern, or a combination of all?
A mantra is said to be the phonetic manifestation of the Supreme Reality. Mantra is a potent compelling force and is used for many purposes, divine and mundane in nature.
Mantra was advocated as the highest form of therapy and a specialist in it was known as mantra kovida or mantra visharada [super-specialist].
Some areas where the mantra is prescribed in ayurvedic textbooks are – military medicine in order to cleanse the atmosphere of micro-organisms, especially in bio-weapons, or to decrease pain and complications during childbirth, including the safety of the neonate and mother after delivery, as anti-pyretic, to bring down fever through Vishnu sahsranama, diuretic [mutr-mochana], or lowering blood sugar [Rudra astaka], anti-aging [Gayatri mantra] etc.,
Scientists say that our ears can hear sound frequencies well between 20Hz to 20,000Hz, not outside of this range. It is very clear that the path through which sound moves has the capacity to make great and significant changes. Everything in the Universe vibrates, each at its own specific, natural frequency – including us.
Every system in our body has its own cycle, rhythm, and pulse. An imbalance, or disharmony, in these cycles can manifest as mental, physical or emotional imbalances, or disease. Every cell in our body acts as a sound resonator, and our body is made up of at least 70 per cent water. Because of this, our bodies are an excellent conductor of sound vibrations. This makes sound therapy a very effective method of healing.
Interest in mantra’s healing powers has accelerated, thanks to the scientific study of cognition, perceptual neuro-psychology, brain development and function, not to speak of audio engineering and psychoacoustics. According to research, some parts of the brain that are associated with emotions are stimulated by sound – this helps us to release the happy hormones or body’s natural pain busters – the endorphins, which in turn, offer significant benefits to physical and mental health.
Research has also shown that the appropriate application of sounds can lower blood pressure, significantly improve moods, decrease the amount of anaesthesia needed in surgery, improve motor function in patients with neurological diseases, and augment the body’s immune system.
It is well-known that mantra and music are forms of vibrational energy, which can have a significant impact on living organisms.
Plants have shown to grow more vigorously when exposed to certain sounds, or forms of music. In the healthcare arena, music has been used for centuries for prevention and cure of diseases. Certain primordial sounds are purported to function at the quantum level of matter, a level that has recently been explored in the field of quantum physics.
At the basic level of material existence, physiological imbalances can be corrected by the specific patterns of wave vibrations or primordial sounds. Researchers using imaging equipment [MRI, MEG, SQUID, PET etc.,] are studying the effect of the mantra and/or music on brain function. Emotional responses to music are now being studied with psychological tests and physiological measures: blood pressure, hormone level, skin response, respiration rate, and electromyograms [EMG].
Clinical researchers in music and brain function have used cognitive/behaviour scales and included case studies and qualitative and quantitative methodologies to arrive at holistic conclusions – the power of sound in healing.
Vedic sound therapy
An experiment conducted on primordial sounds known as Sama Veda showed in vitro [test tube] reduction of growth of human cancer cell lines. The effects of Sama Veda, or hard rock music [AC/DC, “Back in Black”] were compared to no sound on the growth of cancer cells in culture. Five human tumour cell lines [lung, colon, brain, breast, and skin] and one normal cell line [fibroblasts] were tested. Sama Veda significantly decreased average growth across cell lines. In the presence of hard rock music, growth of cells was significantly increased. These results suggest the importance of proper sounds for restoration and maintenance of health. The study concluded that sound has an effect on the growth of neoplastic and normal human cells in vitro [Source: Sharma H M, Kauffman E M, Dudek A, Stephens R E: “Effect of Different Sounds on Growth of Human Cancer Cell Lines in vitro.” J Res Educ Indian Med].
Sound vibrations increase human growth hormone [HGH] resulting in reversal of aging, decrease in anxiety, depression etc., It improves immunity and is found to have therapeutic effects in conditions such as loss of appetite [anorexia nervosa], schizophrenia, personality/psychosomatic disorders etc.,
Researchers at the Institute for Music Therapy in Germany conducted a pilot crossover study involving 12 children [4-6.5 years of age] with developmental ages of between 1- 3.5 years to monitor the effects of music therapy on children’s mental development. The results, after the first three months, revealed significant [developmental] improvement, including better hearing and speech, improved eye-hand co-ordination, and improved communications skills in children in the music therapy group. This was not seen in the control group.
In another instance, a German scientist after doing an experiment with the mantra, Omkara, came to the conclusion that the vibrations created by the pronunciation could be so powerful that it could break a wall.
Conventional medical science utilises vibrations or ultrasonics as diagnostic tools to relieve pain by sending high frequency sound waves on the affected part. A device, which sends sound waves at the speed of 10,000,000/ sec is used on the pain-affected part. Sound creates heat to relieve the pain. A scientist in California, US, conducted an experiment by producing sound waves of more than 10 million cycles/sec. The heat produced was so great that a piece of cotton on the path of sound waves got burnt; the clothes, the scientist was wearing also became warm.
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