We all know the expression “You are what you eat..” meaning that what goes inside us as food goes on to become part of our body and therefore becomes us. Anyone who wants to safeguard their health is consequently careful about what they eat – and how much – and they may study the list of ingredients on food packaging to make sure they don’t eat anything nasty.
Vegetarians guard against any animal ingredients in their food, and those who practise meditation make sure their food is sattvic so that their minds are peaceful during their morning contemplations. Food is important. It can elevate our mood or make us depressed; it can help or hinder us in our journey towards spiritual enlightenment.
But even more powerful in creating our consciousness is sound.
We may eat just three times a day, but we are ingesting sound vibrations every second of every day. Sound is everywhere: stray, natural sounds, snuffling animal sounds, tweeting bird song, the neighbour’s car, the radio, television, phones, overheard snatches of conversation on other people’s mobile phones, discussion with friends, colleagues, and family, car alarms, bleeping of computer games, tinny thumps of your fellow passengers headphones and on and on… All these make up a sonic landscape through which we move and live our lives; and the sum total of all those fragments of sound make up our consciousness just as surely as does the food we eat.
The Vedas prescribe that we guard our consciousness carefully as the target of human life is the elevation of the spirit with the aid of a clarified mind. And guarding our consciousness means protecting ourselves from unhelpful sound. Sounds can take us higher or they can pull us down – and keep us down. Or they can take us upwards. The science of mantra – sacred sound – explains that special, non-material sounds can act as powerful elevators of consciousness. Mantras can also protect us from the influence of degrading sounds. Furthermore, mantras can create a subtle mandala within our innermost heart and enable us to install there the presence of God.
Below: ‘Mandalas’ created by sound