The healing power of "AUM"
A….U….M….! A….U….M….! A….U….M….!
Experienced a sudden sense of calmness, didn’t you? Chants are the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. People who have grandparents at their houses, must have often come across the practice of chanting AUM early in the morning.
In the recent times, people have begun to appreciate the benefits of non-pharmacological and non-invasive techniques of treatment and healing. One of the most popular types of therapy includes Music or Sound Therapy. Different frequencies of sounds – Gong sound, Tibetian sound, Crystal Bowls etc., are used for treating several psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, trauma, etc., neurological diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, epilepsy. Those suffering from physical and respiratory illnesses like, arthritis, bronchitis, hypertension, headaches etc. have also found an effective remedy in this soothing therapy. Sound therapy is restorative and a great way to reduce stress and enhance well-being. A great example of this is “AUM.”
‘Om/Aum’: A word, a symbol and a sound that we have all experienced often in our lives; AUM is more commonly associated with auspicious occasions as well as chanting and meditation. With its roots in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, it has now started playing an important role in the fields of yoga, music, neuroscience and psychology. The mere act of listening to this sound fills our bodies with positivity, often visualized as a yellow & green light, which promotes optimism, confidence, emotional strength, upliftment, harmony, self-assurance and peace. But several questions come to mind: what is it about this sound that is so spiritual? Can it help in treating psychological and neurological concerns? Can it change the way the brain functions? Is it powerful enough to instill a sense of calmess within a few minutes? The answer is, YES!
Different frequencies of sounds come together to create a single sound. Research highlights numerous benefits of this particular frequency. Also called the “love frequency”, it is said to produce a divine connection, including the mind-body connect and connect with nature. It is the most significant of the ancient Solfeggio Frequencies. The frequency is present in the chlorophyll to the human DNA and has been mathematically proven to have a healing potential and evoke energy. The AUM sound can be created using the Sa-Pa or the C-G combination on the harmonium/the keyboard. The deeper goal to practice this chant is awareness and non-judgmental appreciation of the present moment. Sound therapy has long been used to manage a broad range of health conditions. The treatments are based on the understanding that all forms of matter – including our body’s cells – vibrate at different frequencies. Factors such as stress, depression and disease cause cells and organs within our bodies to vibrate at non-optimal frequencies.
The AUM symbol correlates with the 5 brain waves called the Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta and Gamma. The Beta is the waking consciousness and the reasoning wave. Alpha, also known as the deep relaxation wave, enhances internal awareness. The Theta wave plays an important role in emotional healing, focused more on intuition and the subconscious. The Delta waves facilitate healthy ageing and encourage DNA repair. Lastly, the Gamma waves mimics high levels of suspended animation in the form of one-ness. The AUM sound is said to correlate with the resting state of the brain, in turn playing an important role in curing insomnia.
Literature highlights the long-term effects of chanting. Chanting the AUM sound enhances neuroplasticity and promotes clarity, nonduality and somatic awareness. Mindfulness Based Congitive Therapy mimics this approach. A research conducted in 2011, attempted to understand the impact of the AUM sound on the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls the involuntary functions in the body. Stimulating the vagus nerve improves the functioning of the digestive system, lowers the risk of heart disease and other illnesses, is associated with better social and altruistic behavior, helps regulate blood glucose levels in the liver and the pancreas and promotes healthy kidney function. The findings of the study accurately highlight the impact of AUM on the vagus nerve. Additionally, the brain scans revealed significant deactivation was observed in the amygdala, parahippocampal, hippocampal brain regions - brain areas which play an important role in emotions and memory.
The AUM sound significantly reduced the activity in the brain areas such as the left and right ventral anterior cingulum, right thalamus and brainstem as measured by single photon emission computed tomography - which are hyperactivated in people with depression and anxiety. It was said to have a relaxing effect on the cingulate cortex, dorsolateral, prefrontal and parietal cortices, hippocampus and temporal lobes - areas involved in higher-order cognitive functioning, such as decision-making, planning, judgement, problem-solving as well as , memory, attention and information processing, inturn resulting in deactivation of the limbic system. A neuropsychological study highlights the impact of the AUM sound on the cerebellum - brain region that plays an important role in selective attention, posture, balance and regulating motor functions. A 2008 study, promotes the time-frequency analysis and has established that the AUM chant brings psycho-physiologic reaction and is considered soothing and relaxing. The AUM chant is said to improve pulmonary and cardiovascular functioning. It also reshapes the breathing pattern, increases the respiratory stamina and has proven to be helpful in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
Accurate way of Chanting AUM
Inorder to practice the AUM sound, sit in a comfortable postion, with your palms facing upwards and start by taking a few deep breaths. Take a deep breath in, which will help you produce this sound from your navel. Although you can practice the sound as many times as you like, the yogics recommend the number 108, which stands for one thing, nothing and everything. This sacred number is said to fill the body with vigor and strength. Regularly chanting the sound for about 15-20 minutes a day can help regulate blood pressure, hormonal imbalances and affective reactions as well as stress.
Mantras and sounds hold within them a latent form of universe. The divinity of the sound enhances introspection and insight. To experience the impact of it, one needs to practice it on a daily basis to bring about an ascension and expansion of their energy as well as the cognitive, social, emotional and behavioral functioning. This Mental Health month, let’s experience the cosmic energy in its true form. Experience the state where the wandering mind comes to rest.
“Aum is the sound of creation. It is the vibration and the heartbeat of the universe.” – Shikoba.