MANTRAS, a.k.a. Body Vibration
Mantras are a string of syllables with deep vibrational qualities, which emit sounds that echo and hum and resonate because of the bodily acoustics, which go into shaping them. The human body becomes a technology and an instrument to chant, in specific turns of low and high frequencies, halting enunciations, or more drawn out, sing-song-type tilts. They are essentially a string of words, which are meant to work its way through the body and project its way up to the sky—potentially in hopes of sending a message to the heavens.
I’m more interested in the earthly realm of this phenomenon. How certain sounds, hums and frequencies, done with repetition, can have a clearing affect on the body and mind and the way body and mind can communicate with each other because of these clear channels. How acoustic presence and sensitivity within the body can be a potentially rich place for feedback and how these sounds and their vibration can create points and coordinates of resonance and play an anchoring role between the body, and everything that surrounds it.
Mantras are chants and syllables that are like trying to put brakes on or shaping or stuttering or harnessing and directing the flow The powerful, streaming source.
These are directions, instructions, maps, trails, guides.. Whatever you wish to call it.
It’s a transportation time traveling device for mind and body sound sculpture shape color and your general prismic mode. It’s stellar stuff to shape your movements.
We are vibration. This is the basic premise of Hinduism. We are founded on sound, and we come alive through breath. We are acoustic bodies that resonate with frequency, and give off a certain tone—a vibe. This vibe production is in constant flux. It relates to one’s environment, one’s psyche and one’s own body. According to Hindu mythology, this vibration came from one loud boom from Shiva’s awakening and rumbling and illusionistic dancing and this is what causes the eternal ripple of waves and vibration to rock back and forth. And these waves are what cause movement.
The Hindu chakra system seeks to explore this connection back to the cosmic sound via an energy system, based on frequency and vibration. The chakras are a system, which has its roots in earth and projection into the sky. It can be considered to be an optic cable of current and information, zooming information up and down, sending signals, firing neurons, creating vortexes all through the body, making biology dance. By leaning back on physical laws of sound and color, the chakras seek to explain the complex being that projects their R-O-Y-G-B-I-V spectrum onto a day-to-day reality. Hindu philosophy explores the idea that the body is a temple and a vehicle to reach higher spiritual planes through the body and breath. Breath provides the means of symbiosis between existence and awareness, and yoga is concerned with directing this bio-motor force towards expansion—it is through the science of breathing that the body’s subtle energy centers are vitalized.* In yogic practices, Pranayama is the art of channeling life force through filters / diaphragm to hold and move the oxygen either in shallow or deep styles. The chakra system can be looked at as forces of multiplicities and energy vibration vortex centers to help generate a well-humming machine of human awesomeness.
AUM is an important syllable in Hinduism as it is thought of as the cosmic sound. It comes to represent a well-rounded syllable of vibratory patterns. According to scripture, ‘A’ represents an open sound associated with waking consciousness. ‘U’ represents dream consciousness and ‘M’ represents dreamless, deep sleep and the realm of mystery. This rounding out of the mouth through these syllables and this sound account for a complete cycle of breath.**A nice parallel for a Freudian id, ego, superego model.
In Hinduism, the goal of any human life is Moksha, or liberation. It isn’t necessarily liberation from earth, into some divine realm. But liberation from the perceived constraints of this vessel we call our body. It is liberation from psychological loops, ill- conceived communication and attachment to all that is ephemeral, which is essentially everything.
“Rag performance—with its gradual exposition, development, acceleration, and ultimate subsidence into the drone—has sometimes been considered to represent the Indian metaphysical concept of the creation and ultimate dissolution of matter in the universe. Lewis Rowell best puts the case for viewing and improvisation (alap) of a performance as representing matter undergoing differentiation and emerging as structure in ‘a process of pure becoming.”***
Ultimately liberation comes from awareness and mindfulness, and these are the tenets for modern psychology. Mindfulness requires paying attention to breath, pulse and rhythm. This creates a centering in our columns—our spines, our neural and circuitry centers. Kundalini is a practice in yoga, which is centered around the spine, and the activation of this column as a hardware that processes information to keep us anchored on an earthly plane. In Indian classical music, the raga is also looked at as a spinal structure that processes time and rhythm.
“The raga somehow becomes mortal. It is put into time, into a particular rhythmic cycle, into a beginning and a perishing. It is organized in a pattern, given a nervous system, endowed with a symmetry around a spinal organization of repeating intervals of graduated time.”****
The spine is a cylindrical structure and vault of information that creates a centering and a column for our being to run through. This is a sophisticated device with the power to penetrate and translate information as well as store it as memory to be accessed, processed, and referenced. Neural networks branch from here and run a system of circuits that pass information through synapses of energy that result in pockets of vibration that jolt us towards movement.
* Mookerjee, Ajit. Kundalini: The Arousal of the Inner Energy. Print. 19.
** Campbell, Joseph, and David Kudler. Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal. Novato, Calif.: New World Library, 2003. Print. 33.
*** Clayton, Martin. Time in Indian Music: Rhytm, Metre, and Form in North Indian Rag Performance. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. Print. 13.
**** Menon, Raghava R. Discovering Indian Music. Bombay: Somaiya Publications, 1973. Print. 12.