Bija Mantras- Food for the soul

Recently, I wrote about the healing benefits of Toning. If you missed it, Toning is the use of pure vocal sounds to resolve tension, release emotion and activate the body’s own healing process.

Additionally, I introduced you to the Sufi expression used for sound and music, ghiza-i-ruh, which means food for the soul.

A mantra is a sound, syllable, word or group of words, statement or slogan repeated to aid in concentration or meditation. Originally used in Hinduism and Buddhism, certain sounds were considered capable of creating transformation.

From the Sanskrit root “man” – “to think” (manas – mind) and the suffix -tra, meaning “tools or instruments”, hence a literal translation would be “instrument of thought”

Hence we have Mantra: Meaning instrument of thought ( I have also seen “Tra” defined as coming from Sanskrit for Liberate; giving us the alternative definition: To liberate one’s mind) I can’t decide which definition feels more accurate (They both feel right) so I have presented them both. When translated in this manner, we have arrived a the following definition by virtue of its practical use:

Mantra- an instrument of thought, to create transformation, to free the mind

Certainly we can all now agree, that Mantra is a tool used for mediation, whose goal is to create transformation and free the mind.

Bija, also from Sanskrit means Seed, so a Bija Mantra would be the seed sound aimed at creating transformation or freeing the mind.

Bija Mantras are known as: The Sounds of the Chakras

In his book Sounds of Healing author and physician Mitchell Gaynor introduces us to Bijs Mantras, describing them as single-syllable Sanskrit words that correspond to the seven chakras- or energy centers in the body.

These chakras or energy centers are a central part of many Eastern Philosophies, including Hindu and Sufi philosophy.

We should understand them as “wheels” or energy centers in the body. The Sufi’s assigned a single-syllable word to each of these 7 energy centers to create balance and harmony within the body. It is believed that these one syllable sounds, when said aloud activity the energy of the chakra. When you vocalize the mantra, you resonate with the energy of the associated chakra, helping to focus your energy there and activate your body’s own healing properties and allowing you to focus the mind on the specific needs of each area of the body.

In sanskrit, chakra translates to wheel, these wheels can be thought of as vortexes that receive and radiate energy. The body has 7 major chakra centers each which aligns with a major organ in the body and the biological system in which it operates. For example, the heart chakra is associated with the heart and cardiovascular functioning while the throat chakra is associated with the throat, the voice, the breath and respiration.  The chakras sit along the base of the spine and sit along what the Traditional Chinese Practitioners call Energy Meridians. These energy centers control the way energy is emitted and used by different parts of the body.

As we discussed in my last post about Toning, it is the vocalization of sound that causes the internal vibrations. As we chant a mantra, we begin to resonate with the energy of the sound. The theory is these vibrations activate the healing power of the chakra, the energetic wheel begins spinning and this energy is discharged throughout the body, enabling us to move anything (energy, feelings etc) that is stagnant. 

In traditional Hatha Yoga and the VEDIC tradition, the 7 cleansing bija mantras associated with the chakras are:

“LAM”- chakra 1 (root)
“VAM”- chakra 2 (sacral/navel/belly)
“RAM”- chakra 3 (solar plexus)
“YAM”- chakra 4 (heart)
“HAM”- chakra 5 (throat)
“OM”- chakra 6 (third eye/brow)
“OM”- chakra 7 (crown)

The Sufis use the same chanted mantras in their sonic healing practices. Next time you are ready to try toning, try chanting these simple BIja mantras. Try chanting the mantra while concentrating on the associated chakra area and see if you can feel the energy vibrate there. Can you feel the vibration in the area of the associated chakra? Does one Bija Mantra resonate with you more than the other?

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