Ayurveda 101: Healing Through The Sense Of Sound

Our own five senses—the “gateways to healing,” as they are referred to in Ayurveda—are very powerful tools for promoting health and wellbeing. They allow us to use everything around us as medicine.

This week, we’ll dive into the world of Sound. (We previously looked at Sight.)

In a recent late-night soul conversation with a dear friend, we arrived at the conclusion that music is older than fire. Long before we even knew how to create and build and harness the elements, we were pulsing at certain rhythms, both universal and individual. It was primal and natural, and helped us resonate with who we are and why we are here participating in this universal orchestra of life. This hit really deeply in my heart, and unfolded a new layer of gratitude and awe for the healing power of sound.

In fact, the very word heal in Old English means “to return to a sound state.” It is in this “sound state” that we experience wholeness and an integrative sense of wellbeing.

It comes as no surprise then that Sound in all forms—music, vibration, toning, chanting, frequency, binaural beats—is one of the most potent and powerful tools available to us for invoking and inspiring a certain state of being. Sound therapy is ancient and also used extensively in modern day practices. We’ve all been touched and moved in some way or another by a sound, a phrase, an organized sound healing experience. And we can attest to the notable shift that vibration created in its wake.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, Sound is another powerful ally in pacifying dosha excess and imbalance in the mind. Below, we’ll have a quick reminder of the common indicators of a “stressed out” dosha. Then, we’ll learn simple, immediate techniques of utilizing the power of Sound to create more harmony in our lives. Remember, it’s all about the opposites!

VATA // Mind Imbalance

  • Excess Space + Air creates a stress response of Anxiousness, Overwhelm, Worry, Fear. What did I do wrong?
  • Temper with qualities Fire, Water + Earth to influence effects that are Grounding, Calming, Warming, Comforting.

Healing Vata through SOUND

  • Music: Think mellow and slow, almost hypnotic. Bass and didgeridoo help bring depth and weight to overactive Vata. Windchimes and acoustic guitar appeal to Vata’s creative side in a very calming way.
  • Toning: Chant the sound LAM to connect with the earth and feel grounded/cared for.
  • Mantra: Repeat aloud to yourself “I am safe. I am supported. I am capable.” Feel the resonance of this truth.
  • Learn to Play: Crystal or metal singing bowls.

PITTA // Mind Imbalance

  • Excess Fire + Water creates a stress response of Irritability, Impatience, Short Temper, AggressionWhat did YOU do wrong?
  • Temper with qualities of Space, Air + Earth to influence effects that are Soothing, Cooling, Cooperative, Heartening.

Healing Pitta through SOUND

  • Music: Think smooth music that is rhythmic and has a purpose, like jazz or chillwave. Woodwinds (such as sax, clarinet, and deeper flutes) and playful string instruments (sitar or mandolin) are very helpful in awakening Pitta’s playful, collaborative side.
  • Toning: Chant the sound YUM to connect with the heart and feel appreciation for all of life.
  • Mantra: Repeat aloud to yourself “I am appreciated. I am playful. I am loved.” Feel the resonance of this truth.
  • Learn to Play: Acarena or Native American flute.

KAPHA // Mind Imbalance

  • Excess Water + Earth creates a stress response of Withdrawal, Complacency, Neediness, DenialNothing is wrong.
  • Temper with qualities of Space, Air + Fire to influence effects that are Invigorating, Uplifting, Enlivening, Motivating.

Healing Kapha through SOUND

  • Music: It’s all about lively, cultural, fast beats for Kapha. Any kind of drum is fantastic—djembe, congo, tablas, or a traditional drum kit. Salsa, funk, pop and modern-day electronic music all help reconnect Kapha to their inner sass to get the feet moving and the blood flowing.
  • Toning: Chant the sound RAM to connect with solar plexus and the passion burning brightly inside you.
  • Mantra: Repeat aloud to yourself “I am energized. I am inspired. I am on fire.” Feel the resonance of this truth.
  • Learn to Play: Any type of percussion instrument.

Ready to get started? You can harness the power of healing through Sound right away.

  • Find your favorite song that fits within the guidelines above. Begin every morning listening to this song. And, ideally, move to the rhythm and sing along!
  • Tone as a daily practice, or in those “crisis moments” that you feel a dosha aggravation coming on. How to do it? In a comfortable seated or standing position. Softly close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and, on the exhale, chant aloud the pacifying sound of LAM, YUM or RAM. Repeat 3 times.
  • Several times throughout the day, repeat aloud to yourself: “I AM _______________.” Fill in the blank with the dosha-specific mantras above.
  • If you’re feeling called to spend even more time delving into the world of Sound, begin lessons with the instruments that balance your dosha.