The Healing Power of the Sacred Sounds
OM, HU, & AH
The following is a transcript of episode 90 of my podcast, The Healing Sanctuary. Listen to the full episode using the audio above, or go here to see all podcast apps.
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Welcome to The Healing Sanctuary. This is a podcast dedicated to self-healing, personal growth, spirituality, and everything in between. Each week I share a new meditation, visualization, or soulful discussion. I’m your host, Melissa Field, and I’m so grateful you’re here.
This week I’m talking about the Sacred Sounds of the Universe.
You may already have some experience with the most common sacred sound, which is OM. The other two are HU and AH. I’ve probably used Hu the most, and I actually had a very profound experience with it that I’ll tell you about it later. I haven’t used Ah much in meditation, but I have used it as a way to relax and release stress, and you may have also without realizing it.
If you’ve ever made a deep sigh, like Ahhhh, you were utilizing the healing of a sacred sound without realizing it. You may even be thinking now how good it can feel to go “ahhhh” and recognizing that your body has an intuitive awareness of the healing power of these sacred sounds.
So if a sound can be sacred, let’s first talk about what exactly sound is.
From ScienceWorld.ca: “Sound is a type of energy made by vibrations. When an object vibrates, it causes movement in surrounding air molecules. These molecules bump into the molecules close to them, causing them to vibrate as well. This makes them bump into more nearby air molecules. This “chain reaction” movement, called sound waves, keeps going until the molecules run out of energy. As a result, there is a series of molecular collisions as the sound wave passes through the air, but the air molecules themselves don’t travel with the wave. As it is disturbed, each molecule just moves away from a resting point but then eventually returns to it.”
So let’s say you strike the side of a singing bowl. The mallet hitting the metal causes the metal to vibrate. This causes the air around the strike to vibrate, and those vibrations travel out in a continuous chain until they reach your physical body.
Sound is quite literally a vibration.
When a particular sound reaches you, it travels into your body, vibrating the cells of your body. We can all feel the vibration, but not all of us will translate that vibration into a sound. For people who have hearing damage or hearing loss, there is the physical sensation of vibration but without the internal translation into pitch and frequency.
What is actually happening when we receive vibrations that translate into sound?
How we process sound is a pretty complex but also incredibly fascinating process. The bottom line is, when those vibrations hit your inner ear, microscopic hairs vibrate, creating electrical pulses, which your brain then processes based on what it knows about different sounds.
Here’s a bit deeper explanation for ASHA.ORG:
“Your eardrum is at the end of your ear canal. This is where your middle ear starts. Your middle ear has three tiny bones in it, called ossicles. These three bones form a chain from the eardrum to the inner ear. The eardrum moves back and forth when sounds hit it. Different pitches, or how high or low a sound is, make the eardrum move more or less. The eardrum makes the small bones move. This movement sends a signal to the inner ear.
Your inner ear helps with both hearing and balance. The cochlea is the hearing part of the inner ear. The semicircular canals are part of your balance system.
The cochlea is bony and looks like a snail. It has fluid and hair cells inside of it. When the bones in your middle ear move, the fluid in your inner ear starts to move. This movement triggers the hair cells. Not all hair cells move at the same time. Different hair cells move for different sounds.
The hair cells change the movement into electrical signals. These signals go through your auditory nerve into your brain. Your brain understands these electrical signals as sounds. Your brain then has to figure out what the sounds mean and how to respond. This is how we hear.
Your inner ear also helps control your balance. The parts of your inner ear that help with balance share the same space and fluid as the cochlea. These parts are the semicircular canals, utricle, and saccule.”
Once again, that was from ASHA.ORG.
As I said earlier, we can all feel vibration, but hearing sounds is a separate process that involves many different processes in our ears and brains.
When I was reading about how hearing works, I was really intrigued by the fact the inner ear is part of both hearing and balance. One of the main reasons people like to use sacred sounds is because it helps them to feel more balanced. It restores a sense of harmony in the mind and body, and so it cannot be a coincidence that sound and physical balance reside in the same place in the body.
Now I want to talk about another fascinating subject, which is the vibration of words.
Do specific words, including mantras, actually have their own vibrations? This is something that was studied by Dr. Masuru Emoto. He published his findings in the book “The Hidden Messages in Water”, which came out in 2005. This book had a huge impact and was wildly popular when it came out, but I haven’t heard much about his research since.
In the book, Dr. Emoto talks about how he wrote specific words or phrases on bottles of water and then froze them. The words were either uplifting and positive, like “I love you” and “gratitude”, or negative and dark, such as “hate” and “I despise you.”
After freezing the water, he photographed the ice crystals with a higher powered camera. What he found was that the water with the uplifting words created beautiful and aesthetically pleasing ice crystals, and the water the negative words created ice crystals that were deformed, distorted, and unappealing to look at.
What’s even more interesting about this is that about 60% of the human body is water. So if the words and mantras coming into us can change the molecular structure of water, then in theory thye can heal and change us just by us being exposed to them.
So if a word like love carries a vibration that has that strong of an effect on water, then it’s very possible words like OM or HU, which carry the vibrations of divinity and cosmic order, can truly provide deep healing into every cell of our body.
Dr. Emoto’s research also tested the effects of sound and vibration on water. When he played beautiful music that is soothing and uplifting, such as music by Motzart, he again found the water to freeze into stunning and beautiful ice crystals. And when he played hard music, such as heave metal, the water froze into distorted ice crystals.
This means that the sacred sounds carry their healing properties into us in two ways. First, there’s the energy of the word itself, and I’ll describe what energy each word carries in a moment. And then there’s the vibration of the sound, the way it vibrates within us as it goes through the air.
It’s important to remember that sound is vibrations in the air, and those vibrations pass into and through the physical body. Our skin is not a sound proof barrier. Any sound that we hear we are experiencing in our body as well. If you’ve ever had someone strike a tuning fork and then hold it over you, you’ve experienced how powerful it is to feel the vibration of sound.
Our bodies are like tuning forks in the sense that we pick up and begin to vibrate in harmony with the sounds that are flowing into us. This is one of the reasons things like sound baths and tuning forks are so powerful. They flow vibrations into us that vibrate the molecules of our body, and different frequencies carry different healing properties.
Let’s talk now about what healing properties each of the sacred sounds carries.
We’ll begin with OM since it’s the most well known of the three.
OM is often called the primordial sound of the Universe. It’s the sound that gave birth to all of the cosmos, and it carries within it all of the divinity and energy that was condensed down into the primordial atom that exploded out to become the Universe as we know it. When we listen to or chant OM, we are allowing ourselves to harmonize with the source of creation. We are using sound as a means of accessing the knowledge and wisdom that we are truly one with everything. If everything was birthed from one singular explosion, then OM is the sound that connects all of time and space, including us.
Some reported benefits of chanting OM include:
Reduced stress and anxiety, release and purification of negative energy in the mind and body, relaxation and healing of the stomach, an overall calming of the nervous system, spiritual awakening, opening of the crown chakra, improved sleep quality, balancing of emotions, lowers blood pressure, and increases of feelings of bliss by uniting you with divinity.
Next up we have HU.
Many years ago, I saw a stack of business cards tacked to a community bulletin board. All they had on them were two letters, H-U, and then below that it said “A love song to God.” I didn’t know what I was looking at, but I knew I needed to take one of the cards.
After I got home, I looked into it and found that HU, like OM, is a sacred sound used during meditation. There is an entire church built around the sound of HU, but I never explored that and I know very little about the Eckanar Church. What I do know is, is that they have a recording on their website of 2,000 people singing HU (you can get this audio HERE).
I downloaded the file and decided I would meditate on the sound of HU for 40 days straight. When I did, I would often visualize what it was described as, a love song to God, and I just focused my thoughts on love for all of creation, because God, or spirit, or creator, is in everything. I felt so much peace when I did this, and I would not hesitate to say that chanting HU got me through one of the hardest times in my life.
It also led me to have one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had during meditation. After chanting and meditating on HU every day for 40 days, I felt something while meditating I’ve never even come close to feeling again. It was a feeling of being in a state of pure bliss. I felt boundless and infinite and like I was everywhere and nowhere. It was so beautiful and spectacular and rather hard to describe. I wrote a blog post about it that I’m going to share in my episode notes. I just re-read it while preparing this episode and it was so strange to read my own words. The date on the post says 2019 because I re-published it then, but I think I wrote that around 2013.
It's surreal to read such a profound experience I had, because I have never come anywhere close to anything like that again. It truly felt like the words of another person. So if you want to hear how HU impacted my life and spiritual awakening, go read that blog post, which again I’ll link in the episode notes.
Aside from my own personal experience with HU being a tool of spiritual awakening, there are some other reported benefits. The following is from the Eckanar in Illinois website:
HU is an ancient name for God that has been sung for thousands of years in many lands for spiritual unfoldment. Chanting HU can help raise your vibrations and lift your consciousness. Chanting HU can bring:
Comfort, peace, and calm, Expanded awareness, A release of fears, Answers to your questions, and A subtle sense of divine love
HU is truly a mystical sound that is far less pervasive than OM, but for me, far more transformative, and one I’d love to encourage you to explore further on your own.
And finally we have the sound AH. Ah is the one I know the least about and also have the least amount of experience with.
Ah is said to bring about feelings of compassion and peace. It’s a sound that can bring about healing for the entire planet as it encourages connection rather than competition.
Ah is also said to be a chant for manifestation. If you meditate on your desires and follow them with an ahh chant, they are said to be imbued with powerful energy.
I’ll be honest, I’ve tried using ah for manifestation and it didn’t change anything for me, but I still find the idea intriguing, so I’m not closing the door on it yet. I think I just need to know more about how it works and how to use it, but there’s very little information out there on AH.
I do have a clip of it from Jonathan Goldman, and I absolutely love how it makes me feel. If you want to get a meditation with this sound, you can get it free from his website, and I will link that in my episode notes also.
Now that we’ve gone over the three sacred sounds, what sound is, and the effect of the vibration of words and music, I want to suggest you experiment with sound and sacred chants on your own.
Try chanting OM silently in your mind and then chanting it out loud. Notice what it feels like when the sound of OM is vibrating through you from within. If you normally listen to mantras and chants with headphones in, try putting it on your speakers and letting the vibrations roll through your entire body. Play with the sound and see how you can use them for your own healing.
Sound is such a powerful thing and also such a mysterious and mystical aspect of life. I really enjoyed putting this episode together, and I hope you enjoyed it as well. If you did and you’d like to help others to find this podcast, please leave a rating. Your support is deeply appreciated and truly makes a difference.
If you’d like to learn more about healing and how to heal your life, I currently have a free course on my website that dives into meditation, visualization, and the law of attraction. You can find this HERE.
Thank you so much for joining me for this fun and fascinating conversation. This is The Healing Sanctuary and I’m your host Melissa Field. I’ll be back soon with another meditation or visualization and I hope you’ll join me for that. If you have any questions or comments feel free to connect with me on Instagram @meditate_with_melissa and once again my website is melissa-field.com.