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The ancient practice of chanting, the speaking or singing of words or sounds, has been going on for thousands of years by almost every culture worldwide.
Chanting, usually done with mantras, is different from singing and can also be done silently within the mind. Wikipedia defines mantra as a silent or “sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word, group of words or phonemes, the smallest unit of sound in speech.”
Chanting doesn’t just have religious or spiritual advantages. Research continues to explore this venerable practice, which is more than 3,500 years old, uncovering physiological and neurological health benefits.
From a spiritual standpoint, chanting helps us focus the mind and slow the breath, creating a wave of calm across the mind and body landscape. This is just the beginning. By focusing on a mantra, the mind can stop its notorious wandering. It can tune in and come into the moment with the full presence of awareness, perhaps even linger in divine, cosmic oneness.
Different mantras have different meanings, and therefore different outcomes.
For example, the proverbial mantra that everyone has heard of is “Om.” Om is pronounced “aum” and is said to be the primordial sound of the universe. It is considered the most sacred mantra in both Hinduism and Buddhism.
From Gregorian to Christian to Vedic to Native American chanting and beyond, the practice is varied and encompasses a broad spectrum. There is something for everyone.
To chant, we don’t need a mantra from a specific spiritual path. One could chant a single word like peace or love or any other word or sound we wish to repeat over and over again. It’s still chanting.
This practice aims to acquire a more focused mind that can reach higher states of awareness and consciousness. And there’s a reason they call it a practice. It takes practice!
Scientific research has found that the mere act of chanting oxygenates the brain, reduces heart rate, blood pressure, and slows brainwave activity inducing a calm, peaceful state. In addition, chanting can help balance the hormonal and endocrine systems of the body.
Specific sounds made during chanting allow the left and right hemispheres of the brain to synchronize, creating a focal point for the mind, an anchor. This helps create a peaceful state of being while decreasing negative thoughts and managing stress and depression.
A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2018 found that repetition therapy, like mantra chanting, is effective in treating veterans diagnosed with military-induced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
So how does this work? As a chanter myself, I have sought to understand the mechanics of this ancient practice.
Here’s what it comes down to:
Scientists know and agree that our universe is made up of different levels of vibration. Sound, light, cars, words, mantras, mountains—all exist to varying vibration levels.
As living energy fields, we also produce vibration, and the universe speaks vibration, so we are constantly “communicating” with it.
Our bodies are pure energy at a base level, made up of energy producing particles that create our individual vibration. That’s the fascinating health benefit of chanting; the vibration and how it affects the body at the cellular level.
When a sound is made, it produces a vibration that bounces off surrounding surfaces, such as walls, floors, tables, and even other people. For example, in one’s voice, think of the different forms of sound (thus vibration) made when there is anger, sadness, or fear versus love, happiness, and tranquility.
When we chant with reverence and feeling, we send a high vibration through our entire being. This is what is known as reverberation.
The vibration and reverberation produced by chanting stimulate specific organs’ cells, enhance blood circulation, and improve gaseous exchange at the cellular level, inducing vitality and abundant health.
So, chant like nobody’s listening!
But, here’s the deal:
Someone is listening. God. The Universe. Our body. Maybe our neighbors!
See, reverberation extends way beyond the boundary of the body itself. It pours out into the world and across the universe.
In the west, most people pray, but in the east, they chant. Most pray by asking God for something—for life to be better, to find a good job, a partner. This creates an energy of lack—a poverty mentality.
Don’t get me wrong, prayer is an incredible and powerful act, but we must become the prayer—become congruent with what we’re praying for to receive or actualize it. When we ask God to see our lives differently, we open to other higher dimensions of spiritual life.
God is at the center of every spiritual and religious path, and there are many paths, but no one can claim God as their own.
God isn’t a dude in the sky in a robe and Birkenstocks.
God is not a Republican nor any other political party.
God is the universe.
God is everywhere and in everything.
And since God is in everything, God is in you—God is in us.
So, chant like you mean it!
This tool is a key to higher forms of being, connection, and enlightenment.
We must connect and become the highest vibration we can be for maximum impact. This can be achieved with chanting because chanting gets us out of our “own way,” so we speak and connect with God.
So far we’ve only explored the effects of chanting on the individual, but what about the effects of chanting with a group of people or for a noble cause?
According to the results of a 2016 study by Professor Bill Thompson and Dr. Vince Polito, both of Macquarie University, found that “vocal group chanting, sometimes referred to as Kirtan, provides an opportunity for deep connection with other people, and directly impacts and enhances altruism.”
Altruism involves selfless acts or an undertaking that puts the welfare of others before one’s own. It’s the belief that the well-being of others is equally, if not more important than the well-being or survival of the self. But guess what? Altruism is good for our health.
So, are you ready to start this ancient practice that can improve your mental and physical health and create positive change in the world?
Let’s chant like nobody’s listening!