the Chakras - The Roots of Awakening
spiritual practices of India have been introduced to the West
in the body of teachings known as Yoga. There are many Yogic techniques
for developing concentration, meditation and ecstatic union with
the divine. They include rhythmic breathing, rhythmic chanting
of sacred sounds and the practice of physical postures that unify
the mind and body psychologically and spiritually.
study of the influence of rhythm and tuning on consciousness is
known as Nada Yoga. This Yoga evolved from the concept that ultimate
reality emanates from the primordial "first sound." This is the
sound behind all sounds, the imperceptible vibration that gives
rise to the universe. Our physical world is a materialized form
of the different frequencies of this root vibrational energy.
As human beings we are also emanations of this vibration and subject
to the laws of sound.
Nada, the universal pulse of life and creation, manifests within
us as the sound of our own heart beating. From the oldest of times
this primal beat has been represented by the sound of the drum.
sacred sounds to the rhythms of the drum is one of the oldest
practices for transforming consciousness. Through rhythmic repetition
of ritual sounds, the body, brain and the nervous system are energized
and transformed. The sequence of sounds used are known as mantras
and they are written in Sanskrit.
is the sacred, ritual language of Hinduism, like Latin was for
Catholicism. It is an old thought that the Light of the Divine
takes the form of sacred letters and then speaks through the power
of holy words. This concept of the Divine Word has been used in
all cultures throughout the ages.
sounds of Sanskrit are said to spring from the cosmic drum of
Shiva, the ancient, aboriginal god of India who drums and dances
the world into being. These seed syllables are described as eternal,
conscious, living sounds. They are the roots of the power of speech
and express the structure of consciousness. Through the power
of words and language we think, communicate and construct our
letter or seed sound has its own transformative power and represents
an elemental force of nature. The power of each sound affects
the unconscious contents of the deepest levels of the mind. The
strongest of our mental constructs is the false images we have
of ourselves. The unfolding of the true inner self is always simultaneous
with the disintegration of the illusory self. These sounds are
thought to purify and lead one towards a reunion with the highest
order of consciousness.
human beings the primary centers of consciousness are located
in the upper brain and along the cerebrospinal system, in the
energy complexes of the Chakras. These are centers of subtle energies
that affect the entire emotional, mental and physical body determining
our personality and physical appearance. The vibrations of the
chakras generate our emotional states which influence our behavior
and determine our life patterns. Through purification practices
the chakras can come into an overall rhythmic harmony with one
another and the external world.
chakras are connected by three main energy channels. The central
channel is known as the Sushumna and travels through the spinal
column. Two other channels interweave through the chakras from
the base of the spine to the crown of the head. The left channel
is named Ida, the carrier of feminine lunar energy. The right
channel is named Pingala and carries masculine solar energy. These
three channels are called Nadis. There are said to be at least
72,000 nadis within the mind/body complex but these three carry
the most voltage
chakras flower at the intersections of these three major passageways.
They are represented visually by the lotus, the ancient symbol
of the vulva of the Goddessthe gateway through which consciousness
enters the world. The life vibration pulses out through these
power points animating the mind and body. This creates a specific
vibrational frequency at each chakra called the Bija Mantra. This
is the sound of all the energies latent in the chakra. The number
of petals of each chakra is determined by the number and position
of the subtle nerve channels connecting to that chakra. Each petal
is also represented by a seed sound and resonates a specific area
of the body.
Bija Mantra is also the sound of the elemental energy of the chakra.
The first chakra Bija sound is Lang, the sound of earth. Vang
is the sound of water at the second chakra. Rang is fire at the
third chakra. Yang is air at the fourth chakra and Hang is the
sound of space in the fifth chakra. Aum is the sound of light
at the sixth Chakra. The seventh chakra is the realm of the purist
and most subtle consciousness. The thousand petals of this lotus
contain all fifty bija syllables of the sanskrit alphabet, manifested
old cultures of India also discovered the relationship of the
sounds of the strokes on the drum to the elemental energies. A
slap on the skin head is the sound of earth. A deep, open, ringing
tone is the sound of water. A high pitched, sharp rim sound represents
fire while a brushing sound is air. Space, the fifth element,
functions as the medium for sounds to exist.
Kundalini sleeps at the base chakra in the form of a powerful
goddess. She is said to be the mother of the first pulsing, primordial
sound. She is creation, existence and dissolution, the active
power that gives birth to the universe. The goal of many yoga
practices is to awaken this power within oneself.
the energy of the Kundalini is aroused, it travels up the spine
in a rush of fire, heat and light, opening the seven chakras.
She rises from the first Chakra as the earth energy, dissolving
into water energy as she enters the second chakra. Reaching the
third chakra the water evaporates into fire. As she reaches the
fourth, fire dissipates into air and at the fifth, air is absorbed
into space. As she reaches the sixth chakra, space is absorbed
into the realm of pure light. At the crown chakra she unites with
the subtle source of all that is. When the Kundalini rises, the
unconscious awakens into supreme consciousness, activating vast
areas of the brain that normally lie dormant.
Tantric meditation, the traditional chanting of mantras is enhanced
with visual concentration on geometric forms called yantraswhich
means instrument to hold the mind's attention. The design of the
chakra is considered a yantra. Chanting a mantra while focusing
on a yantra is a traditional practice to awaken the Kundalini.
is interesting to look at these ancient meditation practices from
the perspective of the latest scientific research into the functioning
of the brain. Using electroencephalographs, scientists can measure
the number of energy waves per second pulsing through the brain.
outwardly focused attention generates beta waves which vibrate
from 14 to 40 cycles per second. When awareness shifts to an internal
focus our brain slows down into the more rhythmical waves of alpha,
vibrating at 7-14 waves per second. Alpha is defined by relaxation
and centering. Dropping down to 4-7 cycles per second the brain
enters the theta state in which there is an interfacing of conscious
and unconscious processes, producing hypnogogic dream-like imagery
at the threshold of sleep. Theta is the source of sudden mystical
insights and creative solutions to complex situations. It is the
realm where unusual physical and emotional healing can occur.
People with a predominance of theta brainwaves are also able to
learn and process much more information than normal. Yet without
some form of intensive training it is hard to stay awake in thetaone
slips quickly down into delta. This is the slowest brain wave
frequency, 1-4 cycles per second, the state of unconsciousness
or deep sleep.
brain is divided into two hemispheres that control separate aspects
of the thinking process. The right brain functions as the creative,
holistic, visual, aural and emotional center. The left brain is
the rational, logical, analytical and verbal administrator.
Normally the right or left brain dominates in cycles lasting from
30 minutes to 3 hours. While one hemisphere is dominant, the memories,
skills, and information of the other hemisphere are far less available,
residing in a subconscious realm.
only do the right and left brain operate in different modes, they
also usually operate in different brain wave rhythms. The right
brain may be generating alpha waves while the left brain is in
a beta state. Or both can be generating the same type of brain
waves, but remain out of sync with each other. But in states of
intense creativity, deep meditation or under the influence of
rhythmic sound, both hemispheres can become entrained to the same
rhythm. This state of unified whole brain functioning is called
hemispheric synchronization or the awakened mind.
the two hemispheres begin to resonate to a single rhythm, a sense
of clarity and heightened awareness arises. The individual is
able to draw on both the left and the right hemispheres simultaneously.
The mind becomes sharper, more lucid, synthesizing much more rapidly
than normal. Emotions are easier to understand and transform.
The conscious and unconscious levels of the mind interface and
integrate more easily. Insight quickens and creative intuition
flourishes, giving one the ability to visualize and bring into
manifestation ideas with ease. An expanded, more complete and
integrated state of consciousness comes into existence. Scientists
believe that hemispheric synchronization may be the neurological
basis of transcendent states of consciousness.
Research has shown that rhythmic music is one of the most effective
ways to induce brain-wave synchronization. Musical comprehension
is a joint function of left and right brains and rhythmic sound
can drive the brain waves into alpha or theta states.
ancient religious practices seem to have originated in attempts
to induce the transcendental experiences of hemispheric synchronization.
Chanting rhythmically while gazing at geometric figureslike
the tantric combination of mantra and yantra simultaneously
engages the verbal skills of the left brain and the visual skills
of right brain. Traditional yogic practices for awakening the
Kundalini and activating the chakras appear to be efficient techniques
for entraining the right and left brains.
Awakened consciousness is boundlessly infinite and undefinable,
transcending our metaphors for understanding it. Yet each of us
is a manifestation of this ultimate consciousness and through
cleansing and awakening practices this illuminated awareness can
be gradually unfolded within ourselves.
three pieces on the Chanting The Chakras harmonize the mind
and body through drumming and chanting. Traditionally these
meditations were practiced to rebalance the chakras leading
to an expansion of consciousness and a clearer understanding
of one's purpose in life.
The Garland of Letters. The seed syllable on each petal of each
chakra is chanted, starting from the first chakra at the base
of the spine and rising to the sixth chakra in the center of
the head. Each sound vibrates a specific part of the body. Chant
with an outward focus on the diagram of the chakra while also
maintaining an inner awareness of the part of the body being
resonated. The chanting is set to rhythms that emphasize the
strokes on the drum that represent the elemental energy of each
bell rings three times to signal the beginning of the chanting.
Each seed syllable is held for 12 beats with the next four beats
for breathing in. The practice opens with repetitions of the
primordial syllable AUM. Then the seed syllables on the four
petals of the first chakra are chanted. The sequence begins
at the top of the chakra and moves in a clockwise direction.
The first chakra is completed with three repetitions of the
primary mantra for this chakra, Lang. The chanting continues
in this same fashion through all the chakras, closing with the
final repetitions of AUM. Chanting through the chakras with
a focused concentration retunes and rebalances the entire mind/body
Lotus of Light. Chanting the thousand seed syllables of the
seventh Chakra, the Sahasrara. The thousand petals of the crown
chakra are inscribed twenty times with the fifty letters of
the Sanskrit alphabet. These syllables are chanted quickly on
the pulse pulling all awareness and energy into the crown chakra.
Elements into Light. Chanting the Bija Mantras of the Six Chakras.
Each of the first six chakras has a seed mantra or sound produced
by the frequencies of that chakra. The essential nature of the
chakra is expressed and balanced by this sound. The Bija Mantras
are also the sound of the elemental energy associated with each
chakra. Chanting Lang draws the earth energy up from the feet
to the knees. Vang draws the water energy from the knees to
the base of the spine. Rang draws the fire energy from the base
of the spine to the heart. Yang draws the air energy from the
heart to the center of the head. Hang draws the energy of space
up from the center of the head to the crown of the head. Aum
draws the light of the individual into the light of the Divine.
recording of these practices is available on my CD, Roots of
Awakening, Chanting The Chakras by Interworld Music. It will
be rereleased in August of 2001 by Sounds True as Chanting
The Chakras. It is available currently through: