I recently had the luck to attend morning Aarti at a Durga temple in Varanasi, India. It was 5am- that quiet hour before sunrise- and as I stood in the middle of a small crowd in a place of worship filled with rich carvings and structures, in front of us the sweet, warm blaze of fire and incense offerings filled the air. All quite atmospheric, yes, but what struck me most about the experience was the symphony of sounds created in this most peaceful, serene and sacred time of day.
As the offerings were made, everyone present was offering a piece of him or her self through sound. Chanting, mantra, and the clamoring of countless bells filled the space. In this case, the mix of sounds created an intense vibration that not only struck the ears, but sent a pulse of love through the body and into the heart.
This is the power of sound. When we make certain vibrations in one place, they travel through space and time to reach our ears where, for most of us, the vibrations are mimicked and sent to the brain and through the rest of the body. Have you ever felt the roar of thunder? Or the hum of a bass? These experiences can literally shake us to the bone.
Since the dawn of time, even before language, we have been feeling and making music. The call of a rooster and birds waking in the morning, the flush of water hitting the earth, the crackle of fire, the whistle of air whizzing by… what do these sounds make you feel?
And in a very short period of time, these sounds around us have changed. The beginning of life on Earth was about 3.55 billion years ago. The industrial revolution? About 200 years ago. The hum of a motor, the reel of a tape, the clicking of buttons, the ping of a phone… these are all very new vibrations in the grand picture. Nothing inherently good or bad about these new sounds, but do they have the same effect as those ancient sounds of the earth, those timeless sounds of the universe?
Maybe yes. Maybe no. But certainly with the right understanding, in the right dosage and with a bit of creativity, we can recreate our soundscape in a more nourishing way.
Ancient mantra, chants and songs of native people across the globe may seem wild and distant in our limited memories. In fact, they come from a time when language and distraction was far less and experience of the natural rhythms of the earth was much more prevalent. They come from a deep connection to the nature around and within our humanness. And just as nature is the ultimate healer, sound can be as well.
So when we feel stress, sadness, fatigue, elation, freedom, joy… I wonder if we can pause and consider what that might sound like today with the myriad of objects performing as instruments in our soundtrack of life. And in what ways can we use sound from our own unique point of view to facilitate that natural connection that seems to be dwindling in this tech-laden time?
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
I’ve been exploring these sounds myself, and in my devotion to Bhakti yoga I continue to discover new layers of authentic connection. Recently, one of the most fulfilling connections was creating healing sound- healing vibrations- with my family.
At the end of this blog is a gift for you: a sample of collaboration between my cousin, Siuyen Joa, and myself which was crafted during a weekend of hikes in the forests of New England, home-cooked meals, and yes- connection. Mantra meets modernity meets mother earth. Perfect to get you in the space for meditation, asana, a trek in the wild, a peaceful slumber… or just for sheer goodness.
If you like what you hear, comment below, subscribe to my newsletter and keep your eyes and ears open. There are two more tracks waiting to be released for free. Because maybe it’s time to start exploring deeper connection in new and old ways combined. Sounds like… h om e.
With loving vibrations,