Words are sound and sound is vibration. Sound waves enter into our ear, vibrating the structures of our ear in order to produce a stimulus in the brain, which we then perceive as sound. Sound waves can travel through matter, fluid and air; they need a medium to travel through. In a vacuum, where there is no air, sound cannot be produced. Our bodies do not just perceive sound and vibration through our ears, we also feel it on our skin and our eyes help to distinguish sound details too. If you think about how vibration can travel through matter, fluid and air, you realize that our bodies are also made of matter, fluid and utilizes air. As such, vibrations affect us all the time, even if we are unconscious of it.
Returning to the subject of words being vibrations, if you tried saying a word like "good" and placed your hands on your throat, you would feel the vibrations from your vocal cords, larynx, which are 2 bands of muscle tissue, directly on your hands. If you change the placement of your hands onto your cheeks or chest, you would still feel the vibrations. It may be less pronounced the further you move away from your larynx but if you think about it, 60 percent of our bodies is made up of water not to mention the other structures (matter) that our bodies are made of, so the sound waves would still be travelling through our bodies. When you take this into account, you may realize how words/ sound can play such an important role in your life.
One of my teachers, Elen Sentier, a Celtic Shaman describes what happens when we create a vowel with our voice:
"Vowels are sounds we make without obstructing the breath with our tongue, teeth or lips; the air comes out from our lungs without hindrance and is shaped only by our mouths. The vowels are about air, spirit, coming straight through you..." (Sentier, 2014: 4)
Before I read this description from Elen, I had never thought about what a vowel is except in terms of its grammatical function. She might be coming from the Celtic tradition but I see the connections to air and spirit with the Chinese idea of Qi. Not only Chinese and Celtic but also many other spiritual traditions of the world, use word, song, mantra, chanting as ways to invoke or be closer to the Divine.
"Unlike the vowels, the consonants work by the air passing through or across some sort of barrier formed by the tongue, teeth and/or lips as well qs being shaped by the mouth. This is significant for breath-spirit...it means you get quite involved with the production of sound, beyond allowing the air to pass through your vocal cords. They are about how you form and inform the air as it passes through you...this is a big responsibility." (Sentier, 2014: 4)
As with the description of vowels, Elen describes so potently what consonant are; it is about us humans working together with the Divine to create sound/ vibration. When we look at sound this way, we become aware of the importance of words. We apply our Qi with that of the Divine to create Words, which is sound/ vibration that also determines our reality. Elen is right, it is "a big responsibility." Words have power; they express how we feel, our wants, needs and what may be or may not be in our reality.
As I described at the start of this post of my own simple experience of snow, I was given a profound lesson of the influence of words on my own reality. Become aware of how words affect your every day and use your words consciously to create the reality you choose to experience in your life.
Sentier, Elen (2014) : Shaman Pathways - Trees of the Goddess. Winchester, UK: Moon Books, John Hunt Publishing Ltd.
Image by Elaine