She sat in a room by herself, the door had been locked for days, months perhaps but she was unaware. Her Ektaar sat in her lap, her eyes half-closed with a soft smile laced upon her face. Her name was MeeraBai — the Princess who found enlightenment through music.
Music has always been a way to communicate with the higher power and evokes feelings of emotion and healing with one another. The reason why I decided to be a bhajan singer is that music has the power to influence your mood and unleash your emotions. Devotional music of any kind, in any faith, allows you to silently surrender through sound. It also provides you with a vessel to carry the emotions that are burdensome on your shoulder, and through the musical notes and various intonations, you find yourself emptying that vessel of your mind into the ocean. That grace and surrender music naturally gives you without the need for conscious prayer is what can alleviate the pain and stress we feel. Anyone can think of a time of difficulty they have gone through and recall the album that gave them some solace.
Hindu monks have always been very particular about the way mantras are chanted because of the power they contain. There are rules as to how you chant, where your tongue hits when you say a certain word, when you should take a breath and ensuring you maintain a certain rhythm and timing. Although you might find this rather onerous, it had a scientific purpose. Controlling these factors enables a certain kind of physical and mental change within you and could also be used to govern the circumstances around you. Although, we may not chant mantras in the same way anymore or with such detailed precision, just listening to them is very beneficial. The mantra is like a key that is used to unlock your chakras, break negative thought patterns, clear karma and raise not only your vibration but the vibrations of the room you dwell in. Hence why certain rooms feel so peaceful whereas others might leave you feeling tired or restless.
Music is also playful and soothing because a melody is similar to the natural flow of a stream. It doesn’t require any conscious study, thought, or energy. It simply allows you to trace and follow it and that creative movement frees you from the things that have us stuck and troubled. Music lives loftily above an ego infused world. You’ll find someone in East Asia feeling the same way about a song as someone else on the other side of the world. Or you can go to a classical concert, and regardless of an individual’s background, they find themselves identifying with the music. This brings you closer to spirituality because it is breaking boundaries and barriers that we have formed within ourselves. And if the point of spirituality is to feel oneness then music enables that.
We associate music with love; first wedding dances, lullabies for our children, singing at the top of our lungs with friends at a concert, or even crying over a heartbreak to a song on the radio in the car. Music; to me, has always been about love, and meditation is about creating space to love and understand your real self. When you marry the two together, the emotional intensity of music allows you to dive deeper within yourself.
There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ type of music, it is a personal connection between you and sound. Sound is energy and that energy is transferred to you, therefore you decide how you wish to receive it. Whenever your mind is running in a hundred directions and you feel distracted, take a moment and listen to something that is produced specifically for you to tap into the higher (listening to a song about being jealous for example won’t be very conducive!). Breath slowly, close your eyes and allow yourself to let everything go. For all the things you don’t dare to say or release, the music will do it for you. Remember a song is temporary, so is this moment and our problems, let it seep out of you through the sound. And like MeeraBai, you will find yourself moving upwards, beyond the material and superficial ropes that have you pegged down. Your heart, as it heals, as all hearts require, will be flooded with love. Those around you will trace the sweetness of the melody by the curve of your smile and the light in your eyes. Music, coupled with your devotion and discipline, will have set you free.
The writer is a Spiritual Urban Yogi and Indie Devotional Singer.