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Sound and Mental Health

By Satpurakh Kaur, Raj Academy

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health for all. This year’s theme is suicide prevention.

Stress is a part of modern life. We can’t escape it or remove it from our life and neither should we try. Instead, we need to learn how to use it and develop our emotional agility, so that we can turn stress into fuel for our success.

Emotional agility is a vital skill if we want to thrive in this day and age. Every child should be taught how to deal with their emotions, to understand them and recognise them in others. This is the path that leads to mastery of life: no longer at the mercy of our emotions and our environment, we have a choice of how to act instead of blindly reacting, and we are able to compose our life like a symphony.

Naad Yoga (Yoga of Sound) is also known as Gurmat Sangeet in the Nanakian School of Sound. It is most commonly associated with chanting mantras, singing and kirtan performances. However, at the core of this science of sound are teachings and techniques meant to improve and deepen our ability to communicate and connect first and foremost with ourselves and our emotions, but also with the outside world.

Communication plays a critical role both in maintaining good mental health and in suicide prevention. Although we are more closely connected than ever before thanks to the internet, messaging services, social media and so on, those connections lack depth of feeling and understanding and we struggle to reach out and truly listen to each other as well as to ourselves.

Uncomfortable or undesired feelings or emotions are hidden away behind a happy, optimistic façade or suppressed through distractions, diversions and addictions. Mind, body and soul are cut off from one another, the inner balance is disturbed and we don’t know how to fix it.

This is where the science of sound comes in and offers a path to restore the balance, increase awareness and provide us with tools to deal with our emotions and the stress of modern life. Through contemplation, which is essentially an inner listening, we tune into our mind and soul: we become aware of the emotions that drive us, the motives that animate our mind and the longing of our soul.

By listening to Mantras and Shabads set in Raags – specific moods translated into music – we create a bridge between our inner world and the outer world. This bridge allows us to directly communicate with our mind, alter our emotional state and better understand our inherent nature.

In turn, by working with our voice and learning to express the mood of each of the Raags, connecting emotion, pitch, tone and rhythm, we are able to better relate to our environment. The science of sound lets us develop our emotional agility by guiding us to feel our emotions consciously, release emotional blocks and trauma and find healthy ways to express our feelings. This is a continual process of going inward and outward through listening and expressing: it is sound that provides the map, the points of reference, by which we recognise our own experience and that of others – and ultimately see ourselves in people we encounter. We feel the oneness beyond all our differences: we are all part of one human family. We feel the same feelings and have the same needs.

Here we reach the crucial point for suicide prevention: the science of sound gives us tools to express our feelings and to reach out for help, but also to recognise the emotional state of one another much more clearly, so that we can give support where it is needed.

Our vision is of a world where every individual seeks wisdom and self-knowledge and develops their emotional competence. Our priority is communication with one’s own mind and soul, in order to create and maintain inner balance and nurture a compassionate attitude towards oneself as well as others. Let us all come together to create a world where everyone can lead a sound life!