How Mantras Work
There is much varied speculation on how and why mantras work. I believe a combination of different elements contributes to the power of mantras. Some of these are mundane and physical. Others are esoteric and spiritual. Together these elements create sounds of power.
On a physical level, chanting a mantra in a slow manner causes the nervous system – including our heart rate, respiration, and brain waves – to attune and entrain with the rhythm of the chant. This alone is quite powerful, because as we slow down our bodily rhythms, we begin to sink into deeper states of consciousness. The result is a decrease in blood pressure, among other effects. When this occurs, we calm ourselves, creating the relaxation response, a term used by Herbert Benson, M.D. in his book of the same name.
In addition, different neurochemicals and hormones such as endorphins, those naturally created opiates, are produced in our bodies when these self-created sounds of power are chanted. It has also been found that when we do this activity with other people, the neurotransmitter oxytocin, the trust hormone, is released. Sounding together creates trust, breaking down barriers of separation that may have previously existed. No wonder we feel good afterward.
Sounding sacred tones and mantras affects the physical body, including our nervous system, our cells, our molecules, and even our DNA. In addition, sound can resonate and affect our chakras and related aspects of our subtle anatomy. The power of sound to influence us should not be underestimated.
1. Increased oxygen in the cells
2. Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
3. Increased lymphatic circulation
4. Elevated levels of melatonin
5. Reduced levels of stress-related hormones
6. Release of endorphins—self-created opiates that work as “natural pain relievers”
7. Boosted production of interleukin-l, a protein associated with blood production
8. Increased levels of nitric oxide (NO), a molecule associated with the promotion of healing
9. Release of oxytocin, the “trust” hormone
An Extraordinary Experience
After three decades in this field, I’ve had many extraordinary experiences as a result of working with sacred sound. Some of these include witnessing spontaneous healings and other miraculous events. In addition, I’ve heard enough anecdotal stories about the healing and transformational power of sound from other people to fill a book. Despite all these extraordinary encounters in the field of sound, one personal story particularly stands out.
In 1987, an event took place that many believe created an important and powerful shift in planetary consciousness called the Harmonic Convergence. It was a time when like-minded individuals throughout the world meditated and chanted together in order to usher in a new era of peace and harmony. The specific dates for this were August 16 and 17. The Harmonic Convergence was said to open a gateway of consciousness that would culminate in major transformation on December 21, 2012.
I found myself in Mexico during this time of the Harmonic Convergence. First, I journeyed to legendary Tule Tree, where Mayan prophecies had foretold that Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent god, would emerge and bring forth a new epoch of consciousness on the planet. Next, I immediately traveled to Palenque, where the Mayans had built a city with structures reminiscent of ancient Egypt.
Late one night a guide took five of my traveling companions and me on a special tour of Palenque. He told us he would share a journey through this site that we wouldn’t otherwise experience. Indeed, he was correct.
At one point in our tour, our guide led us into a temple that had been closed to the public. Using a flashlight, he took us to a chamber on a subterranean level. He and I had spoken briefly about my interest in sound. Once the entire group was in this ancient room, our guide pointed toward the doorway of the chamber and said: “Make sound here!” Then he turned off his flashlight.
I’d never before been in such total darkness. There was no light anywhere.
“Make sound,” he urged.
“Sure,” I replied. Then I began to tone some vowel sounds, complete with harmonics. To my utter amazement, the room started to become illuminated. Somehow, I’d been able to create light—perhaps fields of it—through the harmonically related sound of the vowels. It wasn’t like the illumination from a flashlight or some outside source, but rather, it was more subtle.
The room literally began to get brighter. I could see the outlines and figures of the people there. Everyone was aware of this, and after I stopped toning, the room was filled with the exclamations of the others, who had also experienced this light, which was now fading. Then our guide turned his flashlight back on, and we continued on our tour.
Since that time, I’ve investigated explanations from both the scientific and the spiritual communities. I’ve speculated on many different possibilities for what occurred, but there simply is no single explanation that encompasses all the aspects of this phenomenon. It was real. There were witnesses. And it is true. After a while, I cease to explain, and simply accept what is.
In my book, The Divine Name, I delve a lot deeper into the mystical nature of sound and sound healing. It also includes an audio download of instructional material to help you learn to intone the Divine Name and revel in its astounding transformational properties.
The Divine Name
Jonathan Goldman —
The Divine Name: I AM