Ep#049 How Chanting Mantras Can Heal Your Body and Mind
In this show, I’m diving into the science and healing benefits of mantra meditation, because more and more research is showing the profound benefits that it has to offer us in modern day life as a tool for self-regulation, self healing and personal empowerment.
When I first discovered Kundalini Yoga, the practice of chanting mantra was the most unique and foreign aspect. But as I quickly experienced, it was the most powerful and transformative part.
Discover the fascinating science behind this ancient practice and learn how it promotes balance and healing in your body, mind and emotions. Learn a super easy and versatile mantra that you can use to cut through obsessive thinking and feelings of overwhelm.
Listen To A Mix of Sacred Kundalini Chants from:
Snatum Kaur: https://youtu.be/-1DPaNpiZ3A
Gurunam Singh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyE7g9XPxGk
Nirinjan Kaur: https://youtu.be/8vBwqR6W38k
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you are so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.
Christine Okezie (23s):
Hello, and welcome to the Soul Sscience Nutrition podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for listening today. So in episode number 45, I shared the incredible self healing powers of learning to regulate our breath today. I’m diving into the science and healing benefits of mantra meditation because more and more research is showing the benefits that chanting mantra has to offer us in modern day life as a tool for self-regulation self-healing and personal empowerment. When I first discovered Kundalini yoga, the practice of chanting mantra was the most unique and foreign aspect to me, but as I quickly experienced, it was the most powerful and transformative part of Kundalini yoga.
Christine Okezie (1m 10s):
Now, at some point or another, you’ve probably had a taste of mantra meditation. Maybe you’ve gone to a yoga class where they tune in by chanting either Om or in Kundalini the Adi Mantra Ong Namo. Guru Dev Namo at the beginning or at the end of the class, is he chanting mantras in yoga and Eastern healing. Traditions is a common way to cultivate a quiet mind, wellbeing, inner peace, and there are so many different types of mantras. In fact, every mantra activates a particular kind of energy in a different part of the body. Now chanting mantra is a beautiful ritual.
Christine Okezie (1m 50s):
It’s rooted in the mystical and that resonates so much with me. And at the same time, you know, if you’ve been enjoying this podcast, you also know that I am particularly captivated by the ever blurring lines of consciousness, science and spirituality discovering how and why chanting mantra works to help you heal your body. And your mind is a perfect example of this mantra, which by the way, comes from the Sanskrit language, Mon meaning mind and tra meaning instrument or freedom. Hence, think of mantra as a tool to free the mind.
Christine Okezie (2m 31s):
It’s a combination of sound, breath, and rhythm, and it’s designed to release the mind from all the stresses that come from being a human on planet earth mantra is based on the science of sound and it’s the complex effects that sound has on our neuroendocrinology, our psychology and even our behavior. So I like to think of the body as an instrument, an instrument with strings. And when you chant, it creates this rhythmic vibration of the strings, which causes the trillions of cells in your body to resonate, forming patterns that shape you physically, mentally and emotionally think of the central tuning string as your Vegas nerve.
Christine Okezie (3m 21s):
Remember that largest cranial nerve in the body that regulates all our major bodily functions and is the key to regulating that healing, relaxation response. Now recall that pranayama is healing benefits, conscious breathing exercises benefits are due in large part to the way that our breath activates that vagus nerve and similarly chanting mantra has also been proven to have a powerful, stimulating effect on our vagus nerve. It turns out our voice and our breath are all we really need to help ourselves find a calmer safer center within now, when we chant, we utilize our mouths and we create a movement of certain facial muscles, these facial muscles in the head and in our neck, while they’re connected to the nerves of supply, the parasympathetic nervous system, I E the relaxation response now chanting also stimulates the larynx, the larynx nerves, actually in our throat.
Christine Okezie (4m 27s):
And these nerves are a branch of yep. You guessed it, the Vegas nerve. And therefore, this is how chanting activates that relaxation response in the body to go even deeper into the fascinating science. It turns out when we chant out loud energy waves are generated by our tongue striking the hard palate of the roof, of our mouths. And at the roofs of our mouth, there are 84 Meridian points, and these points are like a keyboard of a computer. And the computer is located in the hypothalamus part of our brains.
Christine Okezie (5m 8s):
That hypothalmus is connected to the pituitary gland that master gland in the body, which regulates so many fundamental functions like our body temperature, eating, drinking, sexual behavior, and yep. It plays a major role in emotional regulation. Now, the repetition of the specific sound patterns in mantra stimulates that hypothalmus to change the chemistry of the brain. And so we experience feelings of equanimity, joyfulness, and compassion. There are so many studies done by neuroscientists that explain how this happens.
Christine Okezie (5m 50s):
And in one of the ways they explain it is mantra meditation suppresses a part of the brain called our default mode network. And when it quiets that default mode network in the brain that leads to a more calm and centered mental state studies by neuroscientists have also shown that repetitive chanting often increases the alpha and or the theta wave activity in the brain. And this means we experience one scan, feeling relaxed while it attentive to the outside world, chanting creates a unique pattern of coherence in the brain.
Christine Okezie (6m 34s):
It synchronizes our left and right hemisphere. It stimulates the activity of our frontal cortex. And all of this activity is what produces a state of restful alertness, improved mental performance, which correlates with greater creativity, happy brain, happy life. Now there’s an ever-growing abundance of published research too, that shows that there are so many health benefits of chanting mantra, including oxygenating our brain, reducing our heart rate, reducing our blood pressure, improving sleep, boosting our immune system, improving our cognition.
Christine Okezie (7m 16s):
And of course, reducing anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Now the vibrations we create also stimulate specific points in our face, and that helps to improve the blood circulation and get rid of
2 (7m 32s):
Toxins. So there
Christine Okezie (7m 34s):
Have been studies that show that the breathing pattern of chanting by helping to oxygenate our skin can actually make us look younger and give us that glowing look, you know, there’s a definite radiance that you can observe after a Kundalini yoga class, or especially a Kundalini yoga immersion or retreat. Everybody’s just glowing from the inside out. And from this subtle anatomy perspective, looking at this energetically chanting, these ancient mantras helps to stimulate our chakra system, those different energy centers in the body that circulate our prana, the vital life force in and around the body, creating balance and healing in our body mind, and our emotions.
Christine Okezie (8m 18s):
Now, for me, practicing mantra meditation is the secret sauce of Kundalini yoga. It’s what dissolves those stuck emotional blockages and recalibrates, your whole perception of yourself and life itself. It literally transports you to a state of bliss, a feeling of pure love and compassion in my experience, it’s what gives us that direct experience of the divine intelligence of our infinite nature. If you will. Now the most widely used mantras and the ones that have demonstrated to be more predictably impactful on the body and the mind are in the language of Sanskrit.
Christine Okezie (9m 2s):
And this might be do that. The ancient roots of Sanskrit, you know, Sanskrit is very rhythmic. And to some extent, some experts have shown mimics nature sounds. And these fundamental sounds evoke specific emotions in our human brains that stem from primitive memories stored in the deeper recesses of our mind. So fascinating, but the bottom line is you don’t necessarily even have to understand the meaning of the mantras to receive real healing from chanting. In fact, there are studies that show that even if a person has no knowledge or even any faith in the mantras, they receive all the positive psychological benefits.
Christine Okezie (9m 47s):
See chanting can be practiced by anyone in the world, therefore without any conflict of faith or respect of religion as Dr. Stephen Porges explains. And I love this quote, he says, “Embedded in religious and spiritual practices for hundreds of years have been manipulations of Vago pathways. And these manipulations are really manipulations of vocalizations, breath, and posture, vocalizations, and intentional breathing via humming and chanting are actually neural exercises that stimulate specific pathways in the vagus nerve.
Christine Okezie (10m 31s):
And these are the pathways that enable healing well-being and inner calm to take place.” So simply put it doesn’t really matter whether you know, the meaning or not, the sound is important, not necessarily meeting now. So how do you start? Well, chanting is, is wonderful just by yourself as part of a meditation as part of a contemplated yoga practice, but it’s even more profound in a group environment setting where all the voices are resonating together, which I hope we’ll be able to do soon again, when it becomes safe in the future to gather again, in, in large classes and yoga retreats, nevertheless, I want to offer a simple step-by-step way to start incorporating the healing benefits of mantra into your daily life.
Christine Okezie (11m 22s):
Now you see just like conscious breathing exercises. The first way to think about chanting mantra is kind of like a tool on that you can use and pull out on that as needed basis. So for example, let’s say you’re having a super stressful day. You’ve got that busy monkey mind will, you can pull up a mantra and you can use YouTube or Spotify or iTunes, and just by listening to it. And then certainly by chanting it, by the way, either out loud or in your mind, it, you right back into your body back into the present moment, or you can pick a mantra that resonates with you and you can make it a daily practice by chanting it for a specific amount of time, a minimum of just three minutes over a period of time, it can be an extremely effective process to reap the benefits.
Christine Okezie (12m 14s):
Okay. So, but how do you chant, right? Well, here are some pointers. The first one, since it’s probably a new practice for you as it was for me, the most important thing I think is to basically suspend all judgment. In other words, let’s agree to free that chatter of that inner critic, and just keep letting that inner critic, you know, fade into the woodwork. Because even though it may sound really strange to hear your own voice, we want to just release any resistance to open our mouth and, and, and the fear, you know, that’s going to hold us back from letting that sound out. So suspending judgments really important, just, you know, kind of relaxing into it and being curious and open.
Christine Okezie (12m 60s):
And like I said, when we chant mantra, we actually need to be very relaxed in our body. When we chant, we want to, you know, kind of scan ourselves and make sure that we’re not contracted or holding any tension. We want the chance of flow on the breath, right? We want to be ease ful. And you know, don’t worry about the thoughts, you know, just like when we’re meditating or doing maybe a breathing exercise, don’t worry if thoughts are coming and going. It’s totally natural, of course. And you know, feel confident that when we chant the chanting is, is the tool that the instrument that’s going to clean and clear our subconscious and the mantra is going to create this beautiful vortex.
Christine Okezie (13m 46s):
That’s going to pull the energy out of the subconscious. That’s really not serving us and no longer useful. We need to open our mouth. I know it sounds pretty straightforward, right? But when you open your mouth, you know, you want to open your mouth wide and you want to relax the tongue. In fact, you know, you want to project the sound, you know, you want to allow the throat to vibrate, which happens when the mouth is open. And we want to project the sound out to a single point, you know, kind of maybe pick a point roughly, you know, 12 to eight, eat 12 to 18 inches in front of ourselves and kind of let it out.
Christine Okezie (14m 27s):
We don’t want to push it out. We want to do it with ease, but we want to have a point of focus, you know, where we’re projecting the, the, the sound. So, in other words, you want a chant consciously. You want a chant with intention and deliberate focus. And now finally, when you put all that together, there’s one final piece, which is again, very fundamental in the practice of Kundalini yoga and helps us to center the mine and consolidate the energy. And that’s our focus otherwise known as our drishti. And in this case, when we chant mantra, unless otherwise specified, I invite you to focus your eyes at that third eye or the space between our eyebrows when our eyes are closed, elevated, and rolled up, holding that meditative gaze anchors and harnesses, even more the power of our minds now in Kundalini yoga, the language of chant can also be in something called grim Mooky.
Christine Okezie (15m 27s):
And this was a sacred language developed in India and the 16th century. And the words actually are designed to impart healing and consciousness. Each word of the sacred chants or mantras contributes to the experience, which again, whether we know the meaning or not think of the chance as poems, expressive, sacred sounds that contain wise metaphors about life. And by the way, the pronunciation comes with practice and repetition and by example. So I thought I would leave you with what the most versatile mantra in Kundalini yoga, pretty simple one, but a really good one to know if you want to start to play around with this incredible modality.
Christine Okezie (16m 14s):
And that is Wahe Guru (Wahay Guroo). Now there are countless meditations that corporate variations of this sacred phrase, but simply explained Wahe is an exclamation of ecstasy. Think of it like, wow, Wahe! and Guru is teacher or guide. Guru means darkness or unconsciousness, and the Ru means light or consciousness. So think of Guru as someone that takes one from darkness into the light.
Christine Okezie (16m 55s):
So when we put Wahe Guru together, it literally means ecstasy through consciousness. This mantra takes care of phobias fears, neuroses, and is said to help remove unsettling thoughts from the past. So Wahe Guru basically is the infinite teacher of our soul. And we chant this to call upon that divine wisdom, that divine light to remove us from darkness from unconsciousness. So the mantra is used as a means to elevate awaken our spirit whilst expressing the bliss that someone feels when moving from ignorance and illusion to wisdom or enlightenment.
Christine Okezie (17m 43s):
And it really works well with repetitive actions like chopping food are walking or running, or even trying to fall asleep. So in fact, here’s the invitation next time you’re finding your thoughts, overwhelming, just substitute the mantra Wahe Guru and see how long you can refuse to be dragged out, dragged away into obsessive thinking. Notice how it just literally sort of cuts through that rumination and that negative thought pattern. Even if it’s just for three minutes, I recommend setting a timer, but even just three minutes of just turning the mantra over and over,Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru , Wahe Guru inhaling to take the, fill up the breath and Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru , and again, do keep doing it with that repetitive inhaling and exhaling, taken as much air as you need to recite it as many times as you can, and continue like that, you know, taking in as much breath as you need to and so on and so forth.
Christine Okezie (18m 54s):
So you’ll find with practice that the relief, the feeling of calm, that happens as a result is truly wonderful. I found that it helps reset perspective. It helps you make clearer choices, use the mantra to create a period of time where you don’t have to think about anything at all. It’s just a wonderful way. Again, training the mind training the mind’s tendencies. This is all the healing benefits that comes, you know, working with our nervous system, working with our subconscious mind, shifting our behaviors at the root cause. Very, very powerful.
Christine Okezie (19m 32s):
So now another wonderful way to receive the transformational benefits of sacred mantras is actually just playing them in the background, you know, in your home and your car. There’s so many wonderful mantras in the Kundalini yoga tradition for one thing. So many musicians, talented artists out there to explore. In fact, it’s one of the components that made me fall in love with Kundalini. Yoga is the music and the sound current. In fact, I’ll list links in the show notes for this episode of some of my favorite artists with some other amazing versatile mantras, you can check them out and, you know, find one that, or when you find one that absolutely speaks to you, just keep it playing over and over and over again.
Christine Okezie (20m 20s):
It’s a powerful way with, with some time, notice how it becomes embedded in your consciousness. So I hope this has been helpful, you know, in fact, chanting mantra, you notice I’d called it mantra meditation, but chanting mantra is a meditation, right? It is a focused tool used to focus our mind that increases our self-awareness that reduces stress, gives us a greater sense of calm and, and a more positive outlook on life. I mean, really why not? Right? And if meditation, for example, doesn’t seem available, you know, you just, maybe you’ve struggled in the past with, with different kinds of meditation or maybe sitting still with your thoughts is really uncomfortable and really distracting and so normal, similar Whitley, the way that conscious breathing exercises is a form of meditation that you can use for all these amazing benefits.
Christine Okezie (21m 20s):
Chanting mantra is, is an equally powerful one. And again, you know, the idea here is to really kind of enjoy it. And I’m hoping now that maybe that you understand all the science behind it and how it works and find it truly fascinating once again, just how amazing these, these vessels, these vehicles that we move around in every day are, I hope that you’ll give it a try and discover yet another amazing tool to help you get back in the driver’s seat of your health and your life. So thanks again for listening. My friends stay safe, stay healthy and Bye for now.