Making Sounds Introduction: Freeing the Mind with Mantra

Jan 19 2011
Article by Viriam

Mantra takes us deeper into yoga, deeper into ourselves. Mantra literally means to vibrate the mind – when we chant, we are creating space in the mind for meditation... for transformation. We give ourselves a little space, shutting up the mental chatter for a moment.

“The word ‘mantra’ comes from the root manas, which refers to the linear thinking mind,” says Russill Paul, author of Yoga of Sound. “’Tram’ means ‘to protect’, ‘to free’, ‘to go across’. Thus mantras are sonic formulae that take us beyond, or through the discursive faculties of the mind and connect our awareness directly and immediately to deep states of energy and consciousness.”

Naturally there is the intention, the meaning of what we are chanting, but sometimes we chant in a foreign tongue and the beauty of the words still fills us, the mantra still has an effect on our emotional and spiritual wellbeing, whether we understand the meaning or not. When chanting, we hit 84 pressure points in the mouth, a little like reflexology for the brain, creating patterns and new waves of information running through us – mantra can literally change our vibrations and the way we live our lives.

We live in a sea of vibrational energy – when we chant we tune into different levels of consciousness. With mantra we can chant for inner peace or for world peace, for healing or abundance - the power of mantra can clear obstacles from our path.

Mantra is the language of consciousness – it is a whispered conversation between us and God. It is sacred speech. On many levels it can wipe out the negative affects from the other conversations we have in our day-to-day lives. We often have a conversational soundtrack going on in our heads, planning future dialogues or confrontations, reviewing old ones, things we wish we had said… and we are constantly bombarding ourselves with our own internal chat. Then there are all those dialogues we do have with others.

"We have so many thoughts going on all the time. We call it the monkey mind, because it's always jumping around," says Sada Sat Kaur, who was drawn to chanting and made it her practice. She has many mantra albums out. "When you chant, you're giving your mind something to focus on that's going to transform you and uplift you."

Beyond that there is the constant impact of media, subliminal advertising… there are a lot of voices in our heads. When we chant, we can create space in our heads for a moment, free of these other dialogues and the beauty of what we chant can combat negative images. Mantras can purify the mind and our consciousness.

David Frawley who has written extensively on yoga, the Vedas and ayurveda… “Control of speech means avoiding aimless talking and gossiping and also avoiding critical and abusive speech. Mantra is a higher form of control of speech that develops the inner fire. The Goddess Kundalini is said to wear the garland of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet around her neck. She is made up of mantra.”

We can chant in every language of the globe, however, we often chant in Sanskrit or if you follow the practice of Kundalini Yoga in Gurmukhi. They are primal languages, they are not used everyday for speaking, they are only used for speaking to God. If we were to chant in English, although it is possible, the language is often loaded, we have different cultural perceptions and boundaries to certain words, like God for example. Sanskrit and Gurmukhi go beyond the mind, beyond intellect.

“Sanskrit is a language that has been constructed at the deep levels of consciousness,” says Russill Paul, mantric musician and author of The Yoga of Sound. “The sounds are specially constructed to penetrate the analytical mind and affect our nervous system very directly. In this sense, they are a short cut, and are like spiritual pharmaceuticals that enter into our soul with palpable physiological effects. It is this capability that gives mantras the very specific therapeutic and spiritual properties that are missing in our everyday language.”

He explains that the original mantric root sounds are encoded with universal spiritual qualities. “Mantras retain this power and have been preserved for thousands of years in an uninterrupted tradition of sacred sound.”

Even if we don’t understand the meaning of the mantra, it tunes into our subconscious mind. Often we do not need to translate the meanings of the mantra, they work their magic on a subtle level not an intellectual level.

“Love is the door…   Chanting is the key.” Bhagavan Das

To work with sound, check out:

The Yoga of Sound: Healing and Enlightenment Through the Sacred Practice of Mantra  by Russill Paul

Bhava Yoga  by Russill Paul

The Path of Practice: A Woman's Book of Healing with Food, Breath and Sound

Aquarian Sadhana and Dubiquity by Aurora (


Read on: Making Sounds 2 – The Science of Mantra

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About Viriam Kaur

Viriam Kaur is a writer and Kundalini Yoga teacher based in Goa, India. She has been teaching yoga for seven years in London, Goa, the Himalayas and Thailand. India has been her greatest teacher - it challenges, provokes and elevates her! She trained with the SKY School of Kundalini Yoga, UK in 2003 and is also a UK certified massage therapist. She writes regularly for Yoga Magazine and Essence of Life and is currently working on her second mantra album - check her out at

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