In this blog, you understand when devotional mantras are helpful to the healing process and when they are not a good part of the solution.
Devotion, from the human perspective, is our ability to appreciate the presence of another. In this sense, a husband might be "devoted" to his wife, a mother to her child. In eastern spirituality, there is also devotion to a guru, a teacher who can be seen and heard.
However, the most profound form of devotion in spirituality is developing a relationship with the unseen, the invisible. How, though, do we develop such a capacity? One way, and a somewhat effective way at that, is to develop devotion in and through our voice.
Bhakti is the cultivation of devotion through the voice, but relating this sensitivity to something hidden and mysterious. While there are "forms" in Bhakti, the forms only serve to mediate that which is formless.
The Bhakti approach to mantras is a specific category or stream within the overall sacred sound system in Indian spirituality. The full scope of this healing system can be explored through The Yoga of Sound.
In the west, there is great interest in kirtan, which is an aspect of Bhakti. For those interested in sound healing, it is essential to recognize that kirtan is only an aspect of Bhakti and does not constitute the whole of it.
Similarly, the devotional aspects of sacred sound constitute only an aspect of the scope of mantras' healing power. Suppose devotion (or Bhakti) cultivates beauty and softness in the voice. In that case, the other elements we learn to develop are power and wisdom found in the Tantric and Vedic traditions.
Integrating all these aspects constitutes a holistic approach to mantras' healing power within The Yoga of Sound.
Over the past 35 years of studying and teaching sacred sound, together with writing and publishing on the topic, my most profound insights into integrating the various streams of sacred sound have come only in the last few years from dealing with my past traumas.
I've also learned a lot about this process from coaching many of my students privately using sacred sound and the voice.
From a therapeutic perspective, Bhakti mantras can help the healing process for those who are aggressive by nature. Bhakti is also a healing balm when the soul is deeply wounded.
And Bhakti can help soften a hardened heart, that is when there is a substantial ego involved. Devotional chanting, including kirtan, can help in such instances. Bhakti mantras facilitate beauty within the soul.
When using mantras for healing, beauty is not the solution for all circumstances. A good example is when someone is in an abusive relationship and has a naturally soft and sweet voice. Teaching them devotional mantras to address this issue is not a viable solution.
The healer-teacher needs to know the context when helping students cultivate qualities in their voice to assist their particular healing process.
For instance, cultivating vocal softness and expressing beauty in certain situations can mask the reality of anger, grief, or other essential emotions that need to be seen in the healing process.
An essential aspect of the healing process for a survivor of abuse is helping that person tap into their power. Another human has disempowered them. Now, their power is to be restored. However, Bhakti is a way of surrender by which all power is referenced in the Divine, not in oneself. It is evident, therefore, that Bhakti would be inappropriate in such contexts.
The most empowered form of sound healing is to empower a person through their own voice. Any other means is only offering comfort, not empowerment. An efficient way to help a student cultivate power within is through Vedic and Tantric mantras.
However, merely teaching this person a Vedic or Tantric mantra is not the way. Even identifying an appropriate Vedic or Tantric mantra for that person is not sufficient. It is the voice itself that requires training in the aspects of the power of wisdom.
To teach and apply sound healing effectively, a teacher must study the mantra śāstra, the science behind the various categories of mantras.
Suppose you are a therapist, healer, or teacher of yoga, and you wish to study sound healing. You might be interested inYoga of Sound Immersion