Sacred Sounds to Open the Chakras and Harmonize Your Mind Body Connection
BY CHLOE GOODCHILD, CFP
sacred shintaido chakra sounds are powerful vibrational tools for clearing negative emotions and harmonizing the mind-body connection.
The Seven Chakra Sounds of Love
The Seven Chakra Sounds of Love are gateways into your Naked Voice. They provide a body-centered singing map—inspired by the seven energy centers in the body—using vocal practices that awaken the energies of love within us. Long before I knew anything about energy centers or musical chakras,I was captivated by Julie Andrews’s rendering of the “do re mi” exercise with the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music. At the age of eleven I went to see that movie eleven times! Little did I realize that two decades later I would be exploring the same vocal exercise in India, but this time described as the saptak, meaning “seven steps.” These seven steps are really musical intervals which, when sounded, interconnect the seven chakric energy centers of the human body from the root to the crown, activating the ascending-descending force in the body. As with Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do, there is a specific sound or swara for each of the energy centers as follows: SA (root) RE (pelvis) GA (solar plexus) MA (heart) PA (throat) DHA (third eye) NI (back of head). In India, each musical sound of the scale is considered to be a mantra and can be practiced alone as a meditation.
In the same way that the seven chakra sounds are used to pitch a tune correctly, these sounds can be used as the musical stepping stones to harmonize mind, body, and soul. Whereas Do Re Mi is a largely mental exercise taught specifically for the benefit of learning to pitch notes and sing in tune, the saptak offers a much deeper language of listening in which you can embody each musical note, integrating the seven elemental chakra sounds with their emotional color.
“These sounds can be used as the musical stepping stones to harmonize mind, body, and soul.”
Singing the Seven Chakra Sounds of Love is like walking into a garden of flowers. Each one has a unique fragrance, expression, and intensity. Sung together they provide a unique body-centered sonic practice and a vibrational framework within which you can start to create courageous musical conversations of all kinds, with yourself and with others.
These seven chakra sounds are essentially “vocal homeopathy” for the brain, body, and soul. They catalyze an alchemical process that, with practice, rewires your brain and transforms your reactive mind by the simple act of expressing your emotional energy supported by these sung chakra sounds.
What I love most about these musical chakra sounds is that you do not have to be a trained musician for this singing practice. The sound awareness and listening skills you have been developing with the sounding of the AUM, Seven-Chakra Mantra, and Heart Sutra along with One Breath, One Voice and the other more spontaneous singing exercises will now give you confidence to start attuning yourself to your emotions and then to locate where they are held in your body, and ultimately, to give them new vibrational and sonic clothes. The impact is empowering as your singing voice aligns with the essence and flow of your emotional life, its shadow and light. You soon discover how to engage and embrace your previous emotional longing and striving, transforming it into the symphonic aliveness of your singing soul. You will also find that it’s impossible to remain fixed in a negative emotional state for long. Once you discover the music of your emotions, you can start to exchange the sound of your reactive thoughts for new creative musical options.
Discover the Seven Chakra Sounds as Vibrational Medicine
I was first introduced to what I now call the Seven Chakra Sounds of Love, or saptak, in India in 1985 by Gilles Petit. In my early years working with him, our improvisation practice was always preceded by physical exercise: breathing (pranayama) and vocal practices that strengthened our capacity to sing from the belly. This in turn strengthened our sounding of the SA from the root of the body, as well as built a substantial energetic core, or chi energy. This took time to develop and sustain and was always accompanied by a practice of the Indian music scale, substituting do, re, mi with the Indian equivalent:
SA RE GA MA PA DHA NI SA
Over the years I have explored and expressed myself through the subtle microtones and spaces between each of the seven chakra sounds with a greater depth of awareness and listening as the musical notes began to open up a vast uncharted spectrum of feeling inside me, energizing my body, dissolving negative emotion, and freeing my spirit in ways I had never known. Each chakra sound carries a vibrational power that awakens a specific emotional state, a realm of self-awareness and wisdom within us—from the root of the body into the pelvis, the solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, back of the head, and crown of the head—in the same way that the chakras or energy centers can. This sound work is a vibrational medicine.
I have created a simple method using these chakra sounds, with voice and meditative movement, to awaken your ears to the full spectrum of your consciousness. Once learned, the seven sounds provide a stable framework within which you can explore your emotions as reflected through the musical notes and intervals, and ultimately discover how to master your emotions and deeper feeling as the music of your soul.
Journey with the Seven Chakra Sounds of Love
This section describing the vocal exercises with the Seven Chakra Sounds of Love includes photographs/diagrams of the mudras (meditative hand gestures) and meditative movements for each musical interval of sound, together with beneficial related online practices.
We will be exploring these sounds in three interdependent groups: instinctual, intuitive, and insightful sound:
INSTINCTUAL LOVE—sound to strengthen your belly
Mantric chakra sounds: SA = root RE = pelvis GA = solar plexus
INTUITIVE LOVE—sound to strengthen your heart
Mantric chakra sounds: MA = heart PA = throat
INSIGHTFUL LOVE—sound to strengthen your mind
Mantric chakra sounds: DHA = third eye NI = back of head SA = crown
These three groups of sounds—located in the three main centers of the body—introduce a simple methodology for your emerging sound awareness and vocal practice. The sounding of the Seven Chakra Sounds, from the root to the crown, together with their accompanying mudras, helps you to embody your unique sound and the quality of love that each center inspires. You will then become more conscious of which realm your loving is most easily expressed in (instinctual, intuitive, insightful). Much depends upon the strength and depth of connection with your root sound SA, which is the source of your vocal journey.
These Seven Chakra Sounds are vibrational building blocks. As you gradually ascend SA-RE-GA-MA-PA-DHA-NI-SA and then descend, returning to the unchanging root sound SA, notice which sounds touch you most, which sounds feel familiar, and which ones feel unfamiliar and new. Some of them may leave you feeling nothing at all. Simply notice and enjoy this unfolding journey through your inner garden of love, as you awaken to the light and shadow of your emotions expressed through sound. With practice you will discover how to simultaneously observe and express the emotional energy activated by your sound. You will access the capacity to navigate the highs and lows of your emotional life, gradually discovering how your every emotion contains a wondrous power to transform from negative into positive feeling.
Instinctual Love: Energy Centers 1, 2, and 3: Root, Pelvis, and Solar Plexus
Root chakra sound SA: I LISTEN
Pelvic chakra sound RE: I OPEN
Solar Plexus chakra sound GA: I GROW
1st Chakra Sound: SA—SOURCE OF LOVE—I LISTEN—ROOT
Qualities: Earth, unmanifested love, emptiness, darkness, Earth’s core, humility, nothingness, primordial being
Chakra Sound Movement and Mudra Practice: Stand with your two feet together, eyes closed, immersed in an interior feeling of dark warmth and deep restfulness. Your awareness is one hundred percent interior, focused on your root (Muladhara) chakra.
Your left hand is closed around your right, your right hand curled around the left thumb. We call this “the sword inside the sheath,” protecting the root chakra. Strengthen your vertical axis as you sink your awareness deeper and deeper into the earth beneath your feet. Your shoulders are relaxed, and likewise your feet are relaxed, not clinging to the ground. Breathe deep, let go of all exterior preoccupations, and bring your awareness to the unchanging, the unmanifested reality, the source of your existence.Let your awareness sink deep down to your feet and to the ground beneath you. Smile and disappear into emptiness. This is at once the most simple and the most impossible task because, in returning to essence, you are returning to a state of emptiness, prior to the birth of ego or a “separate identity.” Standing in SA is a return to the source of your essential nature.
2nd Chakra Sound: RE—SEXUAL CREATIVE LOVE—I OPEN—PELVIS
Qualities: duality, birth of the ego, relationship, sexual love, emerging light, polarity, separation-union
Chakra Sound Movement and Mudra Practice: The image of the movement from SA to RE is one of a young shoot bursting through the earth. Open your eyes, feet, and hands simultaneously. As you open your hands, from bud to flower, let them face the world in front of you at the level of your pelvis. As your hands open you are awakening to the revelation of light as it arises from your root to fill your whole pelvis. As your hands open, feel the presence of light in your palms especially, beaming out light from their center. Out of the unmanifested darkness of SA, the sound of RE arises. A unique new form is created from formlessness: your very own self! An extraordinary energy is required for this opening to occur. How is this possible? When will it happen? Who is moving when it does happen? As you deepen your attention and practice you will become increasingly awake to the effortlessness of this movement out of emptiness.
To begin with, you “do” it as if “you” are “in charge” of the decision to move from being nothing to being someone. It is easy to underestimate the power and mystery of this apparently simple movement, and yet as you learn to experience it by continual repetition, you will begin to access the mysterious interface between being nothing and becoming something. You will begin to discover that in truth you have no control over this movement from SA to RE or indeed any movement at all. Within this movement the opportunity exists to discover what is meant by saying “I do nothing” and “I am,” as opposed to “I am so-and-so,” i.e., a singer or an actor in control of my universe. The musical interval RE is all about RElationship and REvelation, the revealing of yourself as a being both separate and in union with the source of existence. RE is the birth of that wondrous phenomenon you have come to know as ego, or your “separate identity.” RE comes from the original Sanskrit words svah, place, and sthana, ego.
3rd Chakra Sound: GA—INSTINCTUAL LOVE—I GROW—SOLAR PLEXUS
Qualities: sun energy, erotic love, jewel in the belly, strengthening chi energy, prana life force, duende, personal power, “my” will, nourishment, protection, loyalty
Chakra Sound Movement and Mudra Practice: Sounding GA, slowly raise your open hands up to waist level in front of you, in a spirit of receiving, and then absorb invisible energy into your hands. Slowly draw your hands back, forming two soft fists of energy, softly held, while resting your elbows on the tops of your hips. The sound and movement of GA are about gathering fuel for the inner fire. Sounding GA generates a feeling of inner stability in your belly (or hara in Japanese), nourishing your core and filling your lower abdomen with light. GA recharges you with new lifeforce energy and calms any emotional imbalance in your nervous system. Sounding GA gives you the capacity to transform all your negative instinctual me-first emotions into the fearless music of positive human feeling.
GA is the center of the nervous system, the heart of your instinctual energy, and the realm where the whole range of your raw emotions continually rises and falls. This instinctual realm has been misunderstood and abused for millennia. Yet with attention and loving presence, the vibration of GA reveals our capacity to communicate and to love without being driven by the desire to dominate or control, and ultimately to transform our fear of death. Sounding and moving with GA offers you the skill to develop a strong and healthy instinctual nature in which the music of your personal power, protection of your species, steadfastness, and compassionate stable leadership may grow.Left to its own devices, this same instinctual energy can create an unconscious war-field of divisiveness and negative opposing emotions, which, if the realms of SA and RE are also silent or vulnerable, will drive and sustain the illusion of a supreme personal will, otherwise known as “my will.” This leads to relationships that are in a constant state of reactivity, fixated on the distorted soap opera of a life governed by “I am right, you are wrong,” the “us and them” game. This tragicomedy tends to dominate most relationships from the personal to the global arena. As you continue your practice with SAREGAAAAAAAAAAA you will begin to feel your own natural inner fire strengthen as the benefits of the GA movement balance what can otherwise be a soggy emotional realm of undealt with personal issues. Sounding GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA brings enormous energy and aliveness into every cell of the body, stabilizing, harnessing, and conserving your emotional energy in the establishment of loyal, trusting, self-sustaining relationships that are respectful and protective of your personal needs and of those in your community.
Intuitive Love: Energy Centers 4 and 5: Heart and Throat
Heart chakra sound MA: I GIVE
Throat chakra sound PA: I SHARE
4th Chakra Sound: MA—DEVOTIONAL LOVE—I GIVE—HEART
Qualities: devotional love, bridge between earth and heaven, offering, longing, belonging
Chakra Sound Movement and Mudra Practice: The shift in awareness from GA to MA, from the third chakra to the fourth, is immense. It is one that humankind is desperately trying to learn to make, both at the microcosmic and the macrocosmic levels. MA is the source of all words for mother, mater, matter. The sound MA opens up a spaciousness in the heart. Slowly bringing forward your soft GA fists from where they have been resting on your hips, open them out in front of you at the level of your heart, in a gesture of offering until your palms are open and facing upward in a spirit of receiving from the sky. As your hands open, you will notice a wealth of new feeling filling your chest center, awakening the immensities in the soul across a far-reaching spectrum of love’s longing, from the eroticism and intensity of romantic love to the subtle self-containment of devotional love and service, and back again. Moving from GA to MA opens the potential to move from a state of “me” and “my will” to “thou” and “thy will.” MA expands your awareness beyond the self-centered “me-first” needs for security and personal power in GA into a new realm in which your heart, rather than your stomach, leads your awareness from an instinctually driven consciousness to an intuitive one, enriched and informed by your intuitive heart. The physical movement of opening your hands in a gesture of offering can have a profound impact on your previous “me-centered” reality, awakening a wider field of awareness in which your relationships with yourself and others are open-hearted and “being-centered.”
5th Chakra Sound: PA—ALL-INCLUSIVE LOVE—I SHARE—THROAT
Qualities: true speech, companion love, self-actualization, leader, brightening the world, receiving, giving, uniting heaven and earth, unifying the vertical and horizontal axes of the body
Chakra Sound Movement and Mudra Practice: Once the belly is strong and full of pure chi, the intuitive heart is opening, and devotional awareness is arising, PA can sound out loud, resonant, and clear from the throat center. PA is in essence the voice of your resounding true humanity. A healthy PA is a healthy ego capable of expressing itself clearly from the heart. PA is the expression of yourself as a public figure at the height of your human potential, capable of manifesting your vision in the world as inspired and informed by everyone’s best interests. A healthy PA is a self-actualized, self-aware communicator, a grounded and stable personality inspired directly from the source. From the devotional offering hands of MA, open your arms out wide, perpendicular to your body, to form a cross. The open-handed gesture of PA exposes the whole body in a mudra that is at once vulnerable, fearless, and free to receive and give simultaneously. In PA the vertical and the horizontal axes are in balance with each other. The vertical line of energy rises from the feet to the sky, representing your direct engagement with spirit, and the horizontal plane sends a line of energy between left and right sides of the body, through the heart, embracing the whole world with light. Your hands are facing the sky, and your fingers are pointing as far away from your ears as possible, as if some invisible force might be trying to pull them off! This awareness in your hands helps to strengthen the vertical-horizontal interface within your body as you stand sounding PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
INSIGHTFUL Love: Energy Center 6: Third Eye
Third Eye chakra sound DHA: I SERVE
6th Chakra Sound: DHA—WISE LOVE—I SERVE—THIRD EYE
Qualities: insight, compassion, sword, illusion-cutter, Diamond Mudra, Heart Sutra, fearless wisdom, divine uncertainty
Chakra Sound Movement and Mudra Practice: If PA is the self-actualized communicator of truth identified with the successful and professional delivery of your “product” in the world, DHA takes the carpet from under your feet and whispers to you in the night, “You are more than this” and “You are not who you think you are.” DHA takes you beyond the secure boundaries of the family social compound. DHA has you waking up in the night and wondering who you are beneath the veneer of social responsibility and public face. In PA you found yourself completing your personal therapy and inviting your therapist to dinner to acknowledge the completion of a cycle. In DHA you find yourself picking up the phone one morning and, without knowing why, saying to your staff, “I won’t be available for a while. In fact, I have to go on leave for an indefinite period. Can we make arrangements accordingly?” In DHA the focus of your awareness is raised from self-identification with your public persona to a deeper self-inquiry that requires more interiority and spacious awareness.
Sounding DHA raises your attention from the throat to the third eye, opening the capacity to cleanse your mind from an existence driven by reactivity and outer expression to an existence focused on the qualities of discernment, compassion, and fearless wisdom. The shift in awareness from PA to DHA can be profoundly disorienting, even shocking, to the one who has been so identified with outer circumstances and action as being the only reality. DHA cuts deeply through the illusions related to “being somebody.” Moving from PA to DHA, bring your open horizontal palms up above your head, letting your head fall back to watch the movement of your arms pointing up toward heaven. Then join the palms in a prayerful mudra while slowly bringing them down in front of you, remaining in this prayerful mudra as your joined palms point like a sword in front of you. Your elbows are open and there is a protective empty space created between your prayerful hands and your chest. Your eyes are wide open. Imagine that your hands are an invisible sword with its long shining blade pointing into the far distance.
Your gaze is focused on the far distance, far beyond anywhere you have ever been. This posture is an ancient one for the purpose of cleansing the mind and heart. It is called the Diamond Mudra.
Ecstatic Love: Energy Center 7: Back of Head
Back of Head chakra sound NI: I SURRENDER
7th Chakra Sound: NI—MYSTICAL LOVE—I SURRENDER—HEAD
Qualities: letting go, awareness to back of head, hair spiral point, mystical awareness, self-surrender, divine frenzy, looking heavenward
Chakra Sound Movement and Mudra Practice: From the Diamond Mudra bring your hands, still in prayer posture, up above your head as if creating a crown or church spire above you. Your awareness similarly rises up from the third eye to the back of the head, as you breathe into the top of your lungs, sounding NIIIIIIIII (pronounced “knee”). This unearthly sound is so unlike any other sounded before. It doesn’t seem to come out of the front of the face, but rather as if you have an invisible mouth where your hair spirals out at the back of your head. The sound NIIIIIIIII emanates from there, its ethereal tone lighting up and energizing the brain cells, bringing a light-headed feeling and a spacious awareness that can unground you if your SAAAAAAA is not strong enough. NI is the realm of ecstatic love and mystical revelation. NI is the complementary pole with the earthly revelation of RE in the pelvis.
In NI you can hear the inner voice calling you to your eternal home, once again, to the original source of your being. Many people walk around in NI—head in the clouds—all their lives, longing to return home, longing for freedom from the burdens of this earthly life, longing for union with their true nature. The ecstatic musicians—lovers of God—from every ancient tradition have all been touched by the doorway into heaven, whose portal is NI.
Such an initiation into this mystical realm is challenging until we have first awakened the six Chakra Sounds of Love leading us to an understanding and embodiment of the seventh musical interval.
When grace intervenes, NI opens the crown portal SA into an awareness of Universal Love. The Crown SA thus completes the journey from the root to the crown.
Universal Love: Energy Center 1: Crown
Crown chakra sound SA: I AM
8th Chakra Sound: SA—UNIVERSAL LOVE—I AM—CROWN
Qualities: fulfillment, interconnectedness, oneness, union with the Beloved, compassionate service, planetary mind, completion of cycle, grand finale, hallelujah
Chakra Sound Movement and Mudra Practice: In the Western world we consider this note as number 8 or the octave note, thus completing the musical octave, i.e., eight musical notes. In the Indian system the seventh musical note NI is the ultimate note of the saptak, or the seven steps of the musical scale. It is resolved in the crown chakra with a return to the first-named musical note SA. In Indian music SA is the universal unchanging first note. SA is associated with the root chakra, and again with the crown chakra.
In truth, SA is the essence of all other sounds, in the same way that white is the essence of all the colors of the rainbow.
Sounding the top SA, open your whole stance, opening and stretching your arms and hands out and up to the sky above your head, to embrace the whole universe, sounding SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
The Seven Chakra Sounds of Love
Sa / Re / Ga:
Impersonal / Dependent / Instinctual
Ga / Ma / Pa:
Personal / Independent / Intuitive
Pa / Dha / Ni:
Transpersonal / Interdependent / Insightful
SA: Crown of Head—Universal Love
Reaching for your highest ideal*
NI: Back of Head—Mystical Love
Pointing toward heaven*
DHA: Third Eye—Compassionate Love
PA: Throat—Inclusive Love
Brightening the world*
MA: Heart—Intuitive Love
Offering flowers, devoting yourself to others*
GA: Solar Plexus—Instinctual Love
RE: Pelvis—Conditional Love
SA: Source—Unconditional Love
Standing in emptiness*
*Shintaido energy movements, Shintaido.com. Sounds of Love.
Enjoy sounding the Seven Chakra Sounds of Love. Once you are familiar with the energy movements that accompany each musical note, you will begin to discover how you can embody your naked voice and express yourself in new and unexpected ways, unifying body, heart, and mind to collaborate and communicate as one. The energy field of your body is the vessel for the sonic architecture of your soul to blossom and flourish. Listening more deeply, start to notice how these seven simple chakra sounds create musical intervals that open your heart and empower your experience of love in all its forms: instinctual, intuitive, and insightful.
As you give voice to a whole new spectrum of sound and human feeling, remember to continue asking yourself, “Who is singing?” Let your witness consciousness support the evolution of your sound as you discover your most precious human emotions as a unique music, directly expressed from your soul without censorship, analysis, or negative judgment.
Many people, when asked, will tell you that they do not love their voice. Our social conditioning with its intellectually dominated education system has tended to leave the majority of people focusing on what is “wrong’” with themselves and their voice. The focus in music education on competitive performance and entertainment destroys the joy of sound and song for many at school, who come away with memories of being thrown out of the choir and being told to shut up, be quiet, or just mouth the words. Your relationship with your real voice, that naked sound singing inside you over years and years, maybe lifetimes, can no longer be ignored. And once you have had some practice with sounding your soul, there is no end to the creativity and wisdom you can find there. Your relationship with your voice—spoken and sung and all the spaces in between—can tell you everything you need to know about the sound of who you are. The startling truth is that you are—the resonance of your being is—much deeper and more beautiful than your personality and rational mind could ever fathom. Singing with your naked voice ignites a power of longing, a longing for somewhere you have never been, for something that you cannot name. Singing “naked” generates an energy that can turn all the madness of your fear and your terror of death into a madness of an entirely other kind: the madness of love beyond any understanding of it.
This article on chakra sounds is excerpted from The Naked Voice by Chloë Goodchild, published by North Atlantic Books. Copyright © 2015 by Chloë Goodchild Reprinted by permission of publisher.
About The Author
Chloë Goodchild is an international singer and innovatory educator. She is the founder of The Naked Voice (1990) and its UK Charitable Foundation (2004), dedicated to the transforming practice of self-awareness and conscious communication skills, through spoken and sung voice. Deafness in childhood catalysed Chloë’s discovery of inner sound and silence. This deep encounter with her inner self, catalysed a life time’s experiential research of the voice as one of humanity’s most untapped resources for personal and global evolution and transformation. Visit her website: thenakedvoice.com