What are you listening to?

By Rudra Shivananda

woman wearing black sleeveless dress holding white headphone at daytime

It is surprising that most of us spend very little time considering with what kinds of sounds we bombard our sense of hearing. We probably spend more time on what we eat and what we wear. There is less awareness of the impact of sounds, such as music and songs to our well-being. Those on the spiritual path need to take extra care because of the impact of sounds on our subtle bodies and life-force energy.

Of course, you will say that we have likes and dislikes as far as music and songs are concerned and that many of us spend significant time shopping around or downloading our favorites for listening. However, just as with food, we may like something that is bad for us, judging our audio selection based on attachment is not particularly worthwhile. But is there any harm?

We need to be aware that since all sounds are vibrations and these vibrations have been shown to affect the very molecules of our bodies – consider the experiments of a Japanese scientist on the effect of various words on water molecule … positive words make beautiful and symmetrical crystal patterns while negative words make grotesque and misshapen patterns… our bodies are 70% water.

On a yogic perspective, we would consider the mantric properties of all sounds including words and music. These vibrations affect the chakras or energy centers in the subtle body and since these chakras affect the distribution of life-force or prana to the physical, emotional and mental bodies as well, the vibrations affect all levels of our being. If a particular sound pattern affects the heart center positively, it would heal physical heart maladies and evoke the emotion of love while another sound pattern might harm the heart and evoke the emotion of hatred. Unfortunately, the music of most popular songs stimulates the first and second chakras while their words negatively affect the heart or throat centers.

Classical Indian musicians are quite aware of the affect of the sounds on our well-being, emotions and thought patterns. Certain music patterns evoke patriotic feelings while others cause sadness – this is the science of the ragas. Each note of the musical scale affects one of the chakras more than the others – there are seven notes, one for each chakra. In addition, each chakra is resonant with certain consonants and vowels more than others and so we can actually analyze how certain sounds and words will affect the chakras. Unfortunately, it is a hit-and-miss for modern musicians and song writers and they have no clue about what they are doing to their listeners, who in turn are blind to the serious damage than can be done to them – it is like taking a slow poison.

Not everyone would like to listen to classical Indian music or spiritual chants all the time and so we should exercise our discrimination in determining the affect of contemporary songs and music. Even for those that we like, we need to become aware of how they affect our physical, energetic, emotional and mental well-being – there can be long-term damage that will impede our spiritual progress.

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