This month I’ve written extensively about the power of our voice in terms of psychology, energetic physiology, sociology, auditory expression, integrity, and more. In this concluding article, we’ll look at some of the more esoteric viewpoints on the voice.
Part of Tantric philosophy is the concept of energy centers of the body called chakras. The seven primary ones are located at the midline of the body, roughly at the front of the spine. They are considered to influence numerous physical, spiritual, and psychological functions. When a chakra is balanced, open, and vital, the organ functions of the associated region will be healthy, and one’s psycho-spiritual health will be good with regard to the particular correspondences of this center.
For instance, the first or “root” chakra, located near the tip of the tailbone, governs healthy function of the colon, prostate, legs, and feet. When it’s balanced, a person is said to feel a sense of security and stability. They know that their basic needs – shelter, food, water, clothing, etc. – are met. They feel grounded. When out of balance, a person may experience physical problems such as hemorrhoids, constipation, sciatica, and obesity, or psychological problems such as self-indulgence, self-centeredness, insecurity, and instability.
The chakra most relevant to our discussion on the voice is the fifth, called Vishuddha, which is located at the level of the throat. This chakra influences our voice and our voice also influences the chakra. Besides its connection with the voice, Vishuddha is traditionally associated with the thyroid, mouth, ears, larynx, cervical spine, arms and hands. It relates to communication, creativity, connection, expression, and interaction. The association of the arms and hands with this chakra makes sense in that we use them to enhance our communication through gesticulation, sign language, writing, typing, painting, etc.
Some of the ways in which malfunction of the throat chakra might be expressed include: voice problems, sore throat, neck and thyroid disorders, stagnation, obsession, lack of expression, and pride. We may sound bitter, regardless of our intention, or we may wish to speak but are unable to do so.
When the fifth chakra is open and balanced, we are able to hear what other people have to say; we are able to listen to other points of view without reacting; we take the time to approach life creatively; we like the sound of our own voice – the outward sound, our written voice, and the voice in our mind; when talking with others, we harmonize with them; we freely express the truth; we uplift with our voice and we refrain from complaining, gossiping, or degrading.
Many tantric teachers feel that the first three chakras (at the perineum, sexual organs, and navel, respectively) govern more mundane functions; the top three chakras (at the throat, the third eye, and the crown of the head, respectively) govern more spiritual functions; and the fourth chakra, at the heart, is something of a bridge between these two sets. As such, the throat chakra would be the first of the elevated energetic centers. Communication is considered the first level of physical transcendence. Purifying our communication and accessing symbols allows us to operate at a higher level of consciousness.
Whereas the consciousness associated with the first three chakras is rather individual – my survival, my sexuality, and my will – that associated with the upper three chakras becomes increasingly indistinguishable from the broader unified Consciousness that is synonymous with Spirit or God. As the first of the upper centers, the fifth chakra of communication is a kind of gateway to non-dual experience.
Author Gurudashan Kaur Khalsa wrote: “Each step upward decreases boundaries and separation. Communication can be seen as a symbolic system occupying the meeting point between the abstract and manifested idea. It formulates our thoughts into controlled physical vibrations. This creates manifestations on the physical plane. As we name the things and concepts on the physical plane, it prepares them for use by consciousness. The fifth chakra occupies a crucial place in the gateway between mind and body. It mirrors the transformative properties of fire, a medium in the transition from one dimension to another.” She claims that when we attain total purification of the voice chakra the distracting nature of the world and our senses will no longer be a problem for us, and that we will seek only knowledge that is true and beyond the limitations of time and culture.
Besides using the voice with consciousness and intention, chanting and singing are considered to help open and balance this chakra. You can try chanting the sound haang (it should have an ahh sound, so it almost rhymes with “long”), which is called the seed mantra of this chakra. You can also try the following meditation: Sit cross-legged. Lay one palm on top of the other palm, both palms facing down, and bend your elbows to hold your hands right in front of your chest, thumbs toward you. As you inhale through your nose, lift your chin up as high as it will go, then keep it there as you hold your breath for as long as you can. As you exhale, allow your chin to drop to your chest. Imagine that the breath is entering and exiting through the hollow right above your sternum. Repeat for three minutes.
I always love to hear about people’s journeys in healing and awareness. If you’ve had an interesting experience during this exploration of the voice, please feel free to share it.
Dr. Peter Borten