The Science of Chanting for Inner Transformation

The Science of Chanting for Inner Transformation

In This Article

The Science of Vibration: Music + Chanting 

Have you or someone you know ever struggled with depression? 

According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the most common chronic health conditions.1  

How does Ayurveda help boost mood and nervous system regulation? Both music therapy and chanting have been well studied to help in this area. Both employ “vibrational changes” in the central nervous system, which may play a role in brain health, cognitive function, and balanced mood.1-6 And new science backs up chanting’s benefits for longevity, by TK what.

How We Store Emotions in Ayurveda 

According to Ayurveda, we feel emotional impressions in the emotional heart. This is called sadaka pitta—the aspect of pitta that feels everything. These impressions are transported to the brain through the carrying channels of prana vata—the emotional aspect of vata. Emotional impressions felt by sadhaka pitta are carried and written into the memory by prana vata. Memories, impressions, and emotional constrictions are held by tarpaka kapha—the emotional aspect of kapha.7 

Protective myelin sheaths wrap neurons in the white matter of the brain (tarpaka kapha). They are soft, fatty, and impressionable, which is why, as described above, they can so easily record heartfelt impressions and traumas (sadhaka pitta) carried by prana vata to the brain.  

Memories are written onto these fatty myelin sheaths, giving rise to the name tarpaka, which means to retain or record. According to Ayurveda, tarpaka records every experience, blissful to traumatic. Even impressions from our ancestors (called samskaras) are stored in our tarpaka kapha!7 

One study suggests up to 95% of the things we think, say, and do as adults come from impressions in the first six years of life!9 We call these unconscious behaviors because they are drawn from unconscious old traumas or impressions.8 The cure, according to Ayurveda, is to become conscious again. This requires cleaning and erasing unwanted and unproductive memories written into the impressionable myelin film of tarpaka kapha.  

Cleaning the Brain with Vibration 

Traditionally, to accomplish this brain cleansing, Ayurveda prescribes vibrational therapies.  

These techniques, such as breathing, music, chanting, singing, yoga, prayer, and meditation techniques, are in part designed to erase unwanted emotional impressions from myelin sheaths and reinstate access to a less armored and more delicate experience of love and joy. 

The results, studies show, are great benefits to mood, cognitive function, and brain function.1-6 

We recommend "Cleanse Emotional Trauma with Ayurveda":

Music Therapy 

In a review of 26 studies, a statistically significant reduction in depression was found over time in groups using music interventions compared to control groups without music. Music-intervention groups also saw significant improvements in confidence, self-esteem, and motivation.1  

In another study, 199 volunteers were evaluated for presurgical anxiety. Group I consisted of 67 patients who listened to recorded Vedic chants for 10 minutes; Group II consisted of 66 patients who listened to Indian classical instrumental music for 10 minutes; and Group III was 66 controls who sat silently for 10 minutes in the same environment. 

The study concluded that listening to Vedic chants and Indian classical instrumental music has beneficial effects on anxiety levels induced by apprehension of invasive procedures and can be of therapeutic use.6 

Science of Chanting  

Chanting has been found to significantly slow brainwaves. Chanting increases production of alpha brainwaves, classically seen in meditation or deep prayer. Interestingly, chanting has also been shown to increase very slow delta brainwave activity in different parts of the brain. Delta waves have been proposed to act as inhibitors, preventing mental or outward distractions from interfering with internally focused concentration. 2 

In addition, delta-band activity is typically seen in response to injury, due to the increase of neural plasticity associated with delta brainwave activity. Neural plasticity is the ability to mold or restructure neural pathways—a finding closely related to erasing impressions from the myelin sheaths of tarpaka kapha. Delta waves seen in chanting (which are different than brainwave patterns seen in silent meditation) support integration of cerebral activity and homeostatic processes.  

Research suggests mental states dominated by delta-band activity are evolutionarily ancient states, in which restorative mechanisms replenish functions in the brain and peripheral organs, resulting in beneficial effects on both body and mind.2 

Chanting the sound om, said to mimic the vibration of the universe, has been particularly studied. In one study, om chanting is associated with an experience of relaxation, changes in autonomic balance, and deactivation of limbic (emotional) brain regions, as measured by functional MRI.3 

Chanting om shows significant deactivation of certain parts of the brain that regulate emotions.5 Deactivation of brain function suggests chanting om would slow the mind to be at peace. A similar effect is seen in meditation, where quieting the mind is associated with numerous health benefits.5 

One recent EEG study among Christians and Muslims shows increased alpha waves during chanting and prayers, indicating a state of relaxation and mental concentration.4 

And research published in 2018 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that a 12-week meditation and chanting routine increased telomerase activity, a contributor to longevity.

Ayurvedic Neuroplasticity Therapies 

In conclusion, remember unwanted experiences are written and recorded onto fatty myelin sheaths of the brain. According to Ayurveda, erasing unwanted impressions can be accomplished with yoga, breathing, meditation, and chanting techniques—all designed to change the subtle vibrations of the brain, or brainwaves.  

Such vibrational therapies are now backed by science. If trauma is imprinted onto the waxy myelin sheaths of the brain, one way to erase them is through shaking up the wax, thereby wiping it clean (think of shaking a sand tray or warming up a wax cylinder).  

Listening to music and chanting may be of particular use here. What effects do you notice from trying these practices? 

We recommend "Emotional Trauma Cleansing with Kaya Kalpa":
Want to learn more? Dive deeper with our podcast on our Kaya Kalpa cleanse and other emotional cleansing techniques.

Thank you for visiting, where we publish cutting-edge health information combining Ayurvedic wisdom and modern science. If you are enjoying our free content, please visit our Ayurvedic Shop on your way out and share your favorite articles and videos with your friends and family.

Dr. John


  7. Lad, V. Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental PrinciplesAyurvedic Press. NM. 2002. P.74 
  9. Szegedy-Maszak, M., Mysteries of the Mind: Your Unconscious is Making Your Everyday Decisions. U.S. News & World Report, February 28, 2005. 

11 thoughts on “The Science of Chanting for Inner Transformation”

  1. I found this article indemnifying in that I have been practicing Yoga Nidra from the Bihar School of Yoga for around 6 months now and as close to daily as I can manage. Recently in the last month I have noticed that past experiences seem to bubble up more frequently rather than everyday concerns. Could this be as you suggest in your article my myelin sheaths having a spring clean once they have been shaken up enough?

  2. I am curious and wonder if you might write an article some time about the interface between negative emotions being stored in these fatty myelin sheaths and the kundalini yoga idea that you need to burn the garbage out of your third chakra to progress and be freer.

    • Hi Jessica,

      We have updated the post with the Kaya Kalpa link, please let us know which other links you are looking for and we will be happy to add them.

      We will have someone go through very soon to note everything Dr. John mentions and add the rest of the links to this post.

      LifeSpa Staff

  3. super article, Dr. John, thank you! I’ve been chanting and singing bhajans for many years, and have noted the effect on mood. Have used vibrational methods to change impressions in tarpaka kapha too – your article covers it all! Mille grazie! ~ K

  4. During a particular difficult time in my life I listened to classical music and danced to it. It helped me greatly. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

  5. Since covid quarantine began I’ve been drawn to doing bee breath 3 or more times/week. It is very grounding and calming for me.

  6. Hello, I have treated a depressive state by singing in a choir in my twenties. I totally agree with dr John about this. However, in this article he is linking various concepts together. The causality is not clear to me. I find the sentences convoluted and the links between alpha, delta waves, meditation, music and depression kind of thrown in together. I cannot understand the causes and effects clearly. Dr John’s writing is usually better.
    Thank you in any case.


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