Sound Medicine with Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary
04/15/2020 | Season 1, Episode 15
Sound…it is fundamental to the world. Babies crying, your favorite song, laughter, the ocean — these sounds and many more impact us both intellectually and emotionally. Sound also has a hidden power—to heal. In this week’s episode of Be HEALTHistic, Dr. Drew Sinatra welcomes Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, leading integrative neurologist, Ayurvedic practitioner, and author of the new book Sound Medicine: How to Use the Ancient Science of Sound to Heal the Body and Mind. They discuss how sound impacts the human body and brain, and explore the physiological facts of sound vibration — from altering mood to healing disease. Dr. Chaudhary shares how mantra meditation and other sound medicine practices can have a profound effect on both your mental and physical health.
First, Dr. Chaudhary talks about our relationship with sound, how we use it for communication and entertainment but not in a more purposeful way, like for improving our health. The universe is vibrating with sound, and sound connects us to nature — which can create incredibly restorative experiences. Dr. Chaudhary shares her lifelong history with mantra meditation, how it works to quiet and cleanse the mind, and how chanting mantras and enjoying sound baths can improve your overall wellness.
Next, the doctors discuss how mantras and sound medicine differ in western vs. eastern cultures, how Dr. Chaudhary’s health center in India incorporates sound as a modality to treat chronic conditions, and how they even use sound to help prevent the spread of infections. Dr. Chaudhary then demonstrates a simple mantra chant, and reassures us that you don’t need a teacher to get started because we're designed and wired as humans to respond to sound. Finally, Dr. Drew asks Dr. Chaudhary about the ability and willingness to surrender, which taps into the deepest part of yourself, creating greater awareness.
You won’t want to miss this truly fascinating episode of Be HEALTHistic, where we explore the power that sound medicine practices can have on our overall health and well-being.
LINKS & RESOURCES
- For more information on Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, her new book, and to follow her on social media, visit her website. Also, check out Dr. Chaudhary’s Chakra Chant mantra EP on Apple Music.
- Find out more about the Sri Narayani Holistic Centre that Dr. Chaudhary currently practices at in Tamil Nadu, India.
- Visit the Healthy Directions website for more health and wellness content and information!
- Check out the Healthy Directions Articles Archive, where you can search for specific, health-related content from all of our Healthy Directions doctors and experts.
- During the episode, the doctors talked about how nature itself is the profound source of all mantras. Read this article by Dr. Drew, on how to regain balance by harnessing the healing power of nature.
- Dr. Chaudhary shared a special meditation mantra/chant during the episode, which is specifically used to help prevent the spread of viral infections: Om Kreem — Maha Kali — Sarva Rhogam — Nasi Nasi. The mantra is chanted repeatedly; Dr. Chaudhary suggested doing 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.
- The doctors mentioned a few Kirtan musicians who perform original chants and mantras, including Deva Premal & Miten, and Krishna Das; find out more information about these performers by clicking the links.
- During the Wellness Wisdom segment, Dr. Drew shared a few easy practices from Dr. Chaudhary's new book, Sound Medicine: How to Use the Ancient Science of Sound to Heal the Body and Mind, that you can incorporate into your own daily routine to harness the healing power of sound, including meditation mantras and sound baths.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Sound. It is fundamental to the world. Babies crying, music, laughter. These sounds and thousands more impact us both intellectually and emotionally. Sound also has a hidden power: healing. Today, leading integrative neurologist, Ayurvedic expert and author, Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, will be joining us. She is the author of Sound Medicine: How to Use the Ancient Science of Sound to Heal the Body and Mind. We will be discussing how sound impacts the human body and brain. We'll explore the physiological facts of sound vibration, from altering mood to healing disease. Also, she'll share how mantra meditation and other sound medicine practices can have a profound effect on both your mental and physical health.
Narrator: Welcome to Be HEALTHistic, the podcast that is more than just health and wellness information — it's here to help you explore your options across traditional and natural medicine, so that you can make informed decisions for you and your family. This podcast illuminates the whole story about holistic health by providing access to the expertise of Doctors Steve and Drew Sinatra, who together have decades of integrative health experience. Be HEALTHistic is powered by our friends at Healthy Directions. Now, let's join our hosts.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Hi, folks. If you like what you hear today and you want to listen to future conversations on all things integrative and holistic health, subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you download your favorite podcasts. Also, check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel, which will feature video versions of our episodes, plus video extras you won't want to miss. Finally, we have more with me, Dr. Drew Sinatra, my dad, Dr. Steve Sinatra, and other Healthy Directions experts over on the Health Directions site. So, visit HealthyDirections.com to explore our database of well-researched content and information. And of course, you can always follow us on our social media channels.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Welcome, everyone. This is Dr. Drew Sinatra, and today we have a very special guest on our show today. She is Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, and she's a neurologist, she's an Ayurvedic practitioner, and she's an author of a new book called Sound Medicine: How to Use the Ancient Science of Sound to Heal the Body and Mind. Welcome to the show.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Thank you so much. It's such a pleasure to be here.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So, I had the good fortune of reading your book this past week. I finished it last night, in fact.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Oh, you really do your homework, fantastic.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I did my homework, and it was an excellent book. I was really impressed — and for our listeners, to begin with, why don't you share a little bit about your experience when you were nine years old, and what brought you into sound medicine?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: I would love to. So, I had the great fortune of having an extremely progressive mother, who had brought both my sister and I into a meditation practice at a very young age. And she had gotten into it because she had developed a thyroid condition, and her physician just said, "Hey, I think this is stress-induced, and meditation would help." Her thyroid condition was reversed in six months, and so she immediately figured that if this was good for her, what could this do for her children? So, we were introduced to a mantra meditation practice, which just simply means that you're given a sound with no meaning, and you repeat that sound silently in your mind — and it has profound impacts on your nervous system and on your body as a whole, as we now know from all the studies in mantra meditation.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: But because of this, I developed a really different and unique, life-long relationship with sound, because sound was no longer something that I just used for communication, but sound also had this silent property that helped you to still your mind. And so sound, to me, was a tool for my own inner potential. It was a tool for reducing stress, it was a tool that had an impact on my body. So, from a very, very, very young age I looked at sound as something that you could do on purpose to affect your life. And then, once I became a neurologist, because mantra meditation was such a huge part of my life, it immediately started to become a part of my life as a practitioner. So, my entire relationship with sound was not casual — and I think most of us have a very casual relationship with sound, meaning we just use it to talk to people, we use it for entertainment. But we don't do it in a purposeful way for our own personal use, for transformation.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: In reading your book, it was funny. I had all these experiences come up for me where sound was so important in some aspects of my life. For example, we attended a sound bath last week, my wife and I.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Oh, you did?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: We did, yeah — and I'm telling you, all these synchronicities are happening around sound, and I want to thank you for that, actually, because you're a part of that.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: (Laughter)
Dr. Drew Sinatra: We attended this sound bath, and I was transported to just a different realm during that sound bath. It was an hour and a half, and I felt like I was floating, but yet wasn't really floating. I was just sort of in another dimension, listening to these sounds that this practitioner was playing. And I was reminded that when I was married in 2008, my wife and I had a chakra singing bowl, we had one of those crystal singing bowls at our ceremony. So, that brought up all these memories during the sound healing. And then, I was reminded again of when we traveled to Nepal in 2009, we brought back all these singing bowls from Nepal. And so, I hadn't brought them out in the last six or seven years, because they were just sitting in the basement. So, we brought them out this week — and we started playing them to my two boys.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Oh…you guys sound like a fantastic couple, by the way!
Dr. Drew Sinatra: We're trying, we're trying.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: I mean, what a great way to celebrate your wedding, what a unique way of celebrating your wedding, to have singing bowls. You know, when you think about just the way that we interpret sounds — if you go to a movie, imagine taking out the soundtrack of a movie, what your experience would be. So, we're always having an experience with sound. But usually somebody else is provoking that experience, it's not an experience that we ourselves are in control of.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly, yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, do you mind if I read your definition of a mantra from your book? Can I read that?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: No, please. I definitely didn't write the book for it to be private.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Okay, so I love this definition of mantra, because it really...it brings light to many different things, so here we go.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Mantra, in the literal Sanskrit translation, means through the mind, a definition that illuminates this ancient practice and its significant power in two ways. First, it reminds us that it's not possible to quiet the mind without extreme focus. Through channeling mantras, as the Vedic sages and Siddha masters discovered, a person is able to stop the mind from leaping in many different directions at once, and begin to find a profound inner stillness.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I just love that because it's...we all think of meditation as bringing that inner stillness. But for me, I've never really had a mantra, per se, to help provide that inner stillness.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: We forget, sometimes, that...I mean, a mantra is literally, it's a sound, and it's a sound of nature. But nature itself is the profound source of all mantras, and so our connection just to nature, like listening to the waves crashing on a beach, that's ultimately the connection that we're trying to create, even through mantra meditation, is just simply connecting to nature.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I’ve got to tell you, from my experience in that sound bath ceremony last week, I felt like nature was talking to me, because there were times…
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Oh, that's so beautiful.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: ...where she had, she had some sort of a water shaker, or obviously the water element was speaking to me. Then there was some sort of flapping device she had, that sounded like a bird on top of my body. So wind was involved, and then there was an earth element with rumbling and shaking. And so, yeah, it's so funny — I literally thought that nature was speaking to me through these sounds.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Nature is speaking to us through sound. I mean, nature really is sound. And when we look at what the quantum physicists are...what they've discovered, it seems kind of unpoetic and unromantic when they describe it from their standpoint. But the universe is literally vibrating, and when those vibrations become audible, we interpret that as a sound. But there's all of these vibrations that are also inaudible, but they are really still sound — it's just that our human apparatus, which we call the ear, can't hear all of the vibrations. But literally, the universe is singing to us.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. The problem is, though, is sometimes people can't hear that. They aren't able to identify that calling or singing.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Because we don't take the time to still ourselves, we don't take the time to stop. And instead of being bombarded by unwanted sounds, like the phone ringing, or sitting in traffic, or just talking. Instead of being bombarded by the sounds that we know on a daily basis, we don't stop and become silent and tap into all of these other sounds that you really do experience when you are still. Just like you described through that sound bath.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So, I guess one question I had reading your book was, as a practitioner here in the States, and you practiced here in the States for most of your career. And now you've been living in India the last two years. What's it been like for you recommending mantras and sound medicine to folks in India versus folks here in America?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Oh, that's a great question! I really like your question, because I think the answer is surprising — or at least it was very surprising to me. When I was in the U.S., and as a neurologist, I guess it was somehow easy to talk about the effect of mantra meditation on the brain, since that was my specialty. But what I found was people were actually much more open to the concept that mantras could have a profound impact on their health. The challenge, actually, in India is that so many people have grown up with this, and they have…it's like a fish in water — when you're surrounded by it, you no longer think that it has a profound impact. And so, even at the center that we have, we have people who come from all over the world, and we actually start every morning of treatments with a sound bath, and so that's…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Oh, that's great.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: It's just part of our program, and we use different types of sounds. We also use sounds of very ancient Tamil mantras. And so people from all over the world come and have these profound experiences. But our local patients...it's harder to convince them to incorporate mantra into their everyday life. They look at mantra as something that…you go to the temples, and the priest is chanting. And so they look at it as an exclusively religious experience, rather than looking at it as a human experience.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: So, in some cases…and I was just teasing my staff before I came, that I'm going all the way to America, and then I'm going to London, and Australia, and China to talk to people about mantra and sound. And all of you have grown up with it…and it took so much effort just to get our staff to start using mantra meditation on a daily basis. And I guess, like so many countries, India is looking to the West for direction of what's the next step, what's the future, what's the next technology. And the next technology actually has to do with a lot of ancient technology, such as the use of sound.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, it's funny, because in the West here, we're sort of looking to the East for some solutions…
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: I know. It's right there at their fingertips, and it's just...of course, in defense of India, it has to do with their own history of being invaded, and especially with the British invasion, that there's been so many outside influences. So being taught that to be progressive means to take on the standards of other countries, and so one of the things that we're really trying to do there is to re-enliven the local culture, and to also show the science behind it. That these traditional practices, they're not backward practices — they're actually extremely forward practices.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That just takes a lot of education on your part, then?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: It does — and it does help that I've got an American accent, and that I've got an American degree. And so the fact that even though I have an Indian background, the fact that I've got all of this American validation behind my name and behind my profession, they take me more seriously in India because I was trained in America.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: No, I can see that, I can see that. So, I guess in your practice right now, then, when a patient comes to you...because you have an integrative practice in India, correct?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Yeah, so we actually have a center that we were asked to be a part of as an international project, for really looking into some of these very, very ancient records that no American physician has ever been allowed...or, no Western physician has ever been allowed to interact with on such an intimate level. So, as part of that, the center was built to start bringing out what we're finding from these records. And so, a big part of what we do at the center is incorporate sound as one of the many modalities that we use for treating chronic conditions.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Okay, and you're just using a lot of therapies that you learned here in the States, and obviously bringing that back with you?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Yes. So, many of the therapies that I learned in the States. But also, many of the therapies that we're uncovering there, kind of, through this medical, archeological project. And it's so wonderful to be in a place where we can create everything from scratch. And so every morning we start, as I said, with a sound bath, and people lie down, and our practitioners, our sound experts, are chanting the mantras. And what's really beautiful about it, is you see how the human voice itself is so musical, and how the human voice can...
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Just as you were talking about the different sounds of nature that...human voice is part of nature's sound, and you can create profound experiences just simply through the use of the human voice. So, we use it that way — but we also will teach patients that are there different mantras to use. And we also incorporate in different ways, such as many of the herbs that are being prepared from the Siddha texts. Actually, in their preparation, sound is used as a part of their preparation, mantras are used as a part of their preparation.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I didn't even know that. That's amazing.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: I didn't know that either. I didn't know the different ways that it could be used. But even to the point where the seeds are planted, they're exposed to certain sounds. And then, when they're prepared they're exposed to certain sounds, and those sounds are said to enliven the properties of the herbs themselves. So, it's a really fascinating dive into sound medicine in a way that I just didn't realize how rich the tradition was.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And every patient that you work with, though, you do give a mantra too. Is that right?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Every patient that comes through is exposed to, kind of, the different mantras that we offer at the center. And again, depending on the needs, we have certain mantras that are just basic mantras for overall health. The one I mentioned in the book, the chakra mantra, is a general mantra that we give to everybody. And these are just different sounds. Bija mantras, which are seed mantras, which are uni-syllabic sounds that have no meaning, and so we'll teach that. And then, depending on the need — like currently, with the coronavirus outbreak, we brought out, then, this ancient mantra for specifically using to help prevent the spread of viral infections. So, depending on what the needs are, we will bring out specific mantras.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, what's happening right now with this coronavirus, would you mind sharing a little bit about that coronavirus, or at least anti-pathogenic viral mantra?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Yes. No, absolutely! The way that these ancient traditions used mantras for many, many different aspects of life. As I already mentioned, they used it for agriculture. They would use it to deal with natural disasters and the weather, and there were mantras specifically for any kind of situation that affected the community at large, such as viral pandemics. So, the mantra that we give, and we started this only recently, when the coronavirus started to impact our patient population, because we had many patients coming from China. And so we first sent out this mantra to our patients that were from China, just saying, "Hey, listen, we're just so sorry about everything that's happened. Here's a mantra you could use." They're like, "Wait a minute, why aren't we just using this? Why don't we just use this while this is happening?" It's a very short mantra. Would you mind if I just chant it?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yes, please.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Okay. So, the mantra is: Om Kreem — Maha Kali — Sarva Rhogam — Nasi Nasi. So, I'll go ahead and chant it the way that we do it in the center. It's (chanting) Om Kreem — Maha Kali — Sarva Rhogam — Nasi Nasi. Om Kreem — Maha Kali — Sarva Rhogam — Nasi Nasi. Om Kreem — Maha Kali — Sarva Rhogam — Nasi Nasi.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: So, what we do at the center is we just chant those sounds together, as a group, 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, and it's just our way of adding one of many different approaches to reducing somebody's risk of infection. In addition to that, we're also teaching them how to improve their immunity through their digestion, how to reduce their stress. So it's not that we say, "Hey, do this mantra, but don't take any other precautions, and don't wash your hands, and let people sneeze in your mouth." But in addition to everything else that you can do, you can also use sound as part of your health regimen, for helping to prevent the spread of infections.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, I love that. Thanks for sharing that. That was very special. When you do recommend the mantra, is it typically one that you're working on at a time, or could you combine many at once?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: So, typically what we recommend is for somebody to have one practice that they're doing on a regular basis, and the reason for that is that you're trying to create a resonance with sound. So there's actually a process of brain entrainment that happens when you're using a sound on a regular basis, which essentially means that your brain starts vibrating at a specific frequency in response to sound. So, just like any habit, when you're doing it over and over and over, you actually start to create particular biochemical and neurochemical patterns in response to that habit. So, typically, we recommend one mantra on a regular basis. But then if something unique is happening, such as the spread of a viral infection or anything else uniquely happening in your life, you can choose, then, a particular mantra that has a resonance frequency for that particular issue. Then when that issue is no longer a problem, then go back to just the use of your single mantra. Does that make sense?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That makes sense, yeah.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: I kind of look at it as...when you're dressing, you always have certain articles of clothing underneath that you're always wearing. But then on the outside, you can change your outfit depending on your needs of the day. And so mantra practices are kind of like that — you have certain basic articles that you are using on a regular basis, but then there's other aspects that you can change depending on your needs.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: There's a foundation mantra, and you can build on that, if needed.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Absolutely. And for me, it was a mantra that I learned when I was nine years old. That's something that, because I'd been doing it for so long…for people who are new to meditation, one of the initial complaints is, “Well, I start, and my mind is wandering.” But I have been doing that mantra for such a long time that as soon as I close my eyes and that mantra goes, I'm just...my mind is immediately settled, because it's created a resonance frequency. It's created a neurological pattern now that when I hear that sound, my mind and body just simply relaxes.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: You know, there's another piece in your book I wanted to read to everyone here. It's very quick, and it's relating to what we're talking about. You were mentioning how in college, your friends were going out and partying and such. And you say this, you said, "Meditation had become as rote and essential to me as taking a shower. If I skipped it for a few days, I began to feel as if my brain were coated in a layer of grime, just as my body would feel as if I hadn't bathed." So, I'm sure you feel that way today, where you don't do your mantra, you don't meditate…
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Absolutely.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: ...it's like, you've just...it's like medicine for you. I don't like to call it medicine, per se, but it's a form of...
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: It's a form of cleanliness.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, it's sound medicine. It is.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Yeah, it's a form of mental cleanliness. And I used to always have people, especially in college, when you're doing so many other things than trying to be quiet. They would say, “How do you stay so disciplined?” And I said, "Well, how do you stay so disciplined in brushing your teeth every day?" That it's not a discipline when you notice the negative impacts of skipping the behavior. And I was always amazed on the days where I did skip my meditation, how much white noise there is in our mind. So, for me it was just...I felt the difference when I didn't meditate. And that is still as true today as it was when I was in college, and when I was in high school, when I was in elementary school. It's just like any other great habit. People who exercise regularly, they're the same way. No matter where they go, they're like, "No, I have to exercise. I don't feel the same way when I'm not exercising."
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, so the key then is how do we get people to experience this and make it a part of their life? That's what I'm wondering, in a practice, like myself.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: So, that's one of the reasons why I wrote the last chapter. Initially, I was writing a book that was mostly on the theory and the history of sound medicine, as a whole. And I chose to focus on mantra meditation, although singing bowls and other forms of sounds are just as valid. But I focused on mantra meditation, because of my own experiences with it, but the last chapter is all on how to — how do you do this?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: My recommendation is, first of all, just be very, very, very realistic. If 30 minutes a day or 20 minutes a day is not realistic, just start where you are. Start somewhere. Then, I give many different options for a mantra practice, and you've got to choose something that...not to use it as a pun, but literally, something that you resonate with. Something that when you do, you just go, “Oh, this just feels good. This really feels like something that's a part of myself.” But you could just start with even five minutes a day. And just like any habit, when you start to realize the benefits of it, you will do it more often.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: What about having a teacher in your life? I know for you this person, Amma, was present for you, and is still present for you in your life right now. A lot of us here don't have teachers. What do you suggest around that?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Well, I think for beginning a mantra meditation, of course, there's one of two routes, and you're absolutely right. Not everybody has access to teachers that are deeply, deeply knowledgeable about this practice. But the beauty of a mantra practice is that it's a very, very simple practice. Nobody has to teach you how to hear, nobody has to teach you how to speak. And so the teacher part of it is really going deeper into the understanding of it, so that you understand the profoundness of the practice.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: What I'm hoping to do in the book is not to substitute the beautiful relationship that you can have with the teacher, but to at least offer some of the scientific and cultural and historical aspects of the use of mantra. So, by no means do you have to wait to have a teacher in front of you to start a mantra practice, because we're designed and we're made to respond to sound. This is actually part of our biology, and so you can start it because we're wired for it.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I guess for me it sounds odd for me to even speak this out loud, but I think one of my teachers, or many teachers have been so…like Deva Premal or...
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Oh, yes, yes.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I've seen her three times in concert with...I never pronounce his last name correctly. Is it Miten?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: You know what, if you're pronouncing it correctly, then I've always pronounced it incorrectly.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I don't know. How do you pronounce it?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: I said Miten, but I…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Miten?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: They could just have been very polite and not corrected me.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I trust you more than my pronunciation, so we'll go with Miten. So I've seen them three times, and I've seen Krishna Das three times, as well. And for me, those have been my primary teachers, in a way, because I have all their CDs, and I listen to them at home, and I allow my children to listen to them. And they've been...yeah. In terms of a mantra, they've been really the only mantras that I've been singing in my daily life, because I listen to them in my car on my way to work, and it's...yeah. But I'm so happy that they're out there singing Kirtan and bringing that to the people, because I do feel like we're lacking teachers, spiritual teachers, in our communities. And yeah, they've been mine, in a sense.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: But they're beautiful teachers, and they're actually the types of teachers that you would see traditionally in these ancient cultures. Because they are…and I refer to Deva and Miten in the book as the modern day examples of the Bodhi yogis, and Bodhi yoga are just...it's union with yourself, with the deepest aspects of yourself, through a devotional practice, through something that opens your heart. And that's what mantra practices are. So, Deva and Miten and Krishna, they're examples of modern day Nāda yogis — yogis or people who connect through the use of sound. So, they're ideal teachers, because they're actually living their practices. I think that's how entertainment, though, should be — we should be entertained or drawn to people that have something to teach us about ourselves. So, I think they're an ideal example.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Oh, I love that. Okay. That makes me feel much better, because they truly have been my teachers.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: But they're such wonderful people, though. They're such beautiful, beautiful people. I mean, look at how they are expressing their power in life to transform other people. I mean, they're living what they are teaching, and isn't that the type of teachers you would want? Somebody who's not going up there and just writing something on a blackboard, but they've actually dedicated their whole life. And I really have so much more appreciation for them now, as I'm coming back to the U.S. and just seeing what the needs are, that they have been able to connect with these large audiences in so many different countries in such a basic human way. And their teaching is really through their expression of love for humanity through sound. What else are you looking for?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I know. I know, right? Well, you think of having a teacher, like yourself. I mean, I was reading your book and saying to myself, you're so lucky to have that presence in your life. Even as a culture, too, with elders here — it's very hard to find elders that are willing to teach you the old ways.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: That is such a profound point that you're making, and you're right. In these ancient cultures, such as in India or Nepal, where you went to — you do have these influences in your life, either through your elders or through different types of teachers, where they are offering you wisdom that you lack. And you're absolutely right, it's a huge, huge, huge tool in your life for human potential. But one of the goals through the books...and I've been asked to write about so many of the things that we're learning through this process in India, in the records and so forth that we're studying. And one of the things I've been asked to do is write about this so that people in the West have access to it. It's a project inspired out of compassion for humanity, and I have this great, privileged role of…everything that I'm learning from my teachers there, I'm sharing. I'm sharing with whoever is interested.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, and I mean, a lot of people are interested — and I love the fact that you've been doing this your whole life, so you have tons of experience and you're practicing medicine right now in India, sharing all this experience that you've learned. So, that's incredible in and of itself.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I wanted to ask you about, if you could share more of your experience of surrender. You talk about surrender in your book, and I think that's just something that is so hard for us to grasp, is to surrender more. So, please speak to that.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: I'm really appreciating the questions that you're asking. You're asking very profound questions, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Oh, thanks.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: What's interesting is, because I was raised in California, raised in America, and of course, my background is Indian. And so I have this dual upbringing, and I think the idea of surrender, the way that we look at it in America is like, “I'm not giving up my freedoms, or I'm not giving up my rights or my will to anyone.” But if you look at even our relationship with our children, especially when they're very young, where we say, "I know something about the world that you don't know, and if you would just surrender to the knowledge that I have and instead of doing it the hard way, I could make this easier for you."
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: So, surrender, it's one of the most difficult things to do. And I think it's something that you can only do when you do feel that you're in alignment with a teacher who truly has something to offer to you that you, yourself, don't have the vision for. But it's the most rewarding thing to do, and the reward is just all of the obstacles that would have been in front of you in this process of surrendering to a true spiritual teacher. Again, I think this is a real important point, is it has to be somebody that you truly have experienced as someone who has a vision far beyond yours. But you start avoiding all of these obstacles that were laid out in front of you that you would have just banged your head on.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: It's been one of the most beautiful journeys, is understanding that there is a cosmic intelligence that is...initially feels that is greater than yourself, but is actually within yourself. So, even when I talk about surrender, what I have found in the process of surrender is what I thought I was surrendering to, to somebody outside of me, I later found out that I'm actually just surrendering to the cosmic intelligence that's within me. So, in that process of what was surrender in the beginning, I realized was just an alignment to myself, but to a higher aspect of myself that is actually connected to everything else. So, even when we say surrender, you go, "Who are you surrendering to?" I was eventually surrendering to just a better version of me.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, I wondered, too, if just all the years of meditation and mantras and everything that you've been doing with sound medicine has allowed you to make that realization. Because for most people, I can't even imagine anyone really surrendering without doing the work that you've been doing for so long.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: That's a very good point, and I do think that that's important, that you first put the effort into connecting with yourself. Because surrender doesn't mean doing something that's out of alignment with yourself, surrender is really doing something that's in alignment with, as I mentioned, the higher aspect of yourself. And I think people call that different things nowadays. Some people call it the soul, some people call it nature, some people call it divine, some people call it your source…and so we have different vocabulary for it.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: But you should first make the efforts to connecting with whatever that higher part of yourself is. Because then, in the process of surrender, it's a joyful experience — it's not an experience of lack, or doing something that feels out of alignment. It's creating a resonance with the deepest part of yourself, and with that becomes so much freedom, because what we're really doing right now is we're oftentimes surrendering to other people's opinions, and we're out of alignment with what's actually right for us. So, we're surrendering to fears, or political programs, or social programs, and we became out of alignment with ourselves.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, my experience with surrender has come when I did a vision fast. I did this over the summertime, I fasted out in nature for four days. And it was probably the closest thing to surrendering that I've done in my life, because all I had with me was water and shelter, and that was it. And when you don't have food onboard...preparing food takes up so much time of your day…
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: So true.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: You don't really realize that, and then, when you're not eating food, you have all this other time to think and just be present with your body. I fortunately had that experience, but like I said before, it's such a hard thing for people to surrender to, well, many different things to surrender.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I wanted to end here with a quote that I could read from your book, because it's really tying up what we talked about here. It's on page 17, it says, "There is a place within me that is also outside of me, where I'm simultaneously my individual self, and also selfless, at large and united with all the universe."
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I love that. That was so beautiful, because that just really encompasses, I think, your entire book.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: Thank you.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: It's just telling me the journey that you've gone through, and all the work that you're doing in helping all these people out there, so...
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: And I think for most people, when you get to that point of actually experiencing the oneness of life, you get to a point where you're starting to live, then, those fundamental precepts of every spiritual practice. Which is treat others as you would want to be treated yourself, do no harm…and it's hard to do that until you start to have the experiences of realizing that which is outside is actually inside, and that which is inside is actually outside. And mantra meditation, for me, was the route to which I was able to connect to that universal feeling.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Oh, I love it. Well, let's leave our listeners with some takeaways from your book, Sound Medicine. What would you like to leave our listeners with?
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: I think one of the most important points I'd like to make is that sound is actually a very powerful technology, and we're using it indeliberately, and you can actually use it deliberately to improve your mind and your body. And that our biology, the basis of our biology, is actually sound. And so if you don't understand how to use this, you're working too hard in life to be successful and happy and healthy. And it's such a simple way of bettering yourself on a daily basis.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That's great. Well, for our listeners, this is Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, and her new book, which I recommend everyone read, is called Sound Medicine: How to Use the Ancient Science of Sound to Heal the Body and Mind. Well, thank you so much for coming on our show today.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary: It has been my pleasure, thank you so much for inviting me.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Before we wrap up this episode of Be HEALTHistic, I wanted to share today's Wellness Wisdom, which is relevant to Dr. Chaudhary's fascinating research on sound medicine. Since we always encourage our listeners to be proactive in maintaining their own health, we wanted to send you off with a few easy practices from Dr. Chaudhary's book that you can incorporate into your own daily routine to harness the healing power of sound.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: According to Dr. Chaudhary, the easiest and most wildly practiced form of sound medicine today is mantra meditation, which she mentioned during our discussion today. In this practice, a primal sound or a phrase with meaning is repeated either silently or out loud.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Mantras are present in different civilizations around the globe, and are part of the medical heritage of many ancient cultures — several of which have preserved this practice into the modern age, like in India. Those familiar with yoga might recognize how mantras at the start and end of a class can have a calming and centering effect. According to Dr. Chaudhary, there is a science behind these mantras. Mantras are sounds from nature, and they carry a specific frequency that connects us to the natural world. They quiet our noisy mind by reconnecting us to the frequency of nature, and when we are exposed to these special sounds, they create a resonance that shifts our biochemistry.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: This creates greater balance in the mind and body because nature, when untouched by human involvement, knows how to create a state of natural homeostasis. With mantras, we are using the same intelligence within nature to bring our internal environment in the body and mind back into balance. Amazing stuff!
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Another sound medicine practice that Dr. Chaudhary suggests is the use of sound baths, which can be created at home using music that carries a resonance with natural frequencies, such as singing bowls, gongs and bells. She says there are many options available now to create a sound bath experience at home, so it can be easily integrated into your day-to-day life. So, give it a try!
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Remember everyone, if you liked what you heard today and you want to be an active member of the Be HEALTHistic community, subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you download your favorites. And subscribe to the Healthy Directions YouTube channel. You can also find more great content and information from us and the Healthy Directions team at HealthyDirections.com.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I'm Dr. Drew Sinatra, and this is Be HEALTHistic.
Narrator: Thanks for listening to Be HEALTHistic, powered by our friends at Healthy Directions, with Doctors Drew and Steve Sinatra. See you next time.
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Meet Dr. Drew Sinatra
Dr. Drew Sinatra is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and self-described “health detective” with a passion for promoting natural healing, wellness, and improving quality of life by addressing the root cause of illness in patients of all ages. His vibrant practice focuses on treating the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) and finding missed connections between symptoms and health issues that are often overlooked by conventional medicine.
Meet Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy.