Thursday, 23 February 2012

Chanting

I mentioned in another post the idea of chanting as a meditation. Some people consider this a form of Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. However, it can also be seen in a more practical light.

Some people claim that chanting has health and spiritual benefits due to the vibrations it sets up in the body and brain. Even if that isn't the case, chanting can be a positive form of meditation. It has similarities to breath meditations, as the act of chanting requires us to focus on our breath, which we hear as sound and feel as vibration, as well as through the movements of our lips, tongue and vocal chords. The repetition of a chant sets up a structure to occupy our monkey mind, so that it doesn't have as much chance to drag us off in different directions.

Certainly, if you've tried meditating but find it hard to concentrate or to follow visualisations, it might be worth giving chanting a go. And if you enjoy other types of meditation and like singing, it could be one to add to your repertoire. You don't have to "be able to sing" in order to chant, many chants are more like speaking while staying aware of your breath. The only thing you do need is a time and place where you won't feel self-conscious if someone hears you ;)

To get you going here are a selection of chants, some more musical, some more spoken. To start, you can chant along.
Deva Premal - Gayatri Mantra
Om mani padme hum
Jai Uttal - Durga Pahimam
Donna De Lory - He Ma Durga
Krishna Das

Later, you may find you like to pick a chant and go for it. It's not about sounding great, or even being loud. You can experiment with almost whispering, or seeing how much your chest or head can resonate. The main thing is for your focus to be on your breath and the chant. If you give it a go, I'd love to hear your experience!

9 comments:

  1. I found Deva Premel via a facebook posting a while back and for a while I listened to this every day :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SUoY-bfweg.

    Did me a power of good, kept me from getting too strung out with what I was doing :-)

    She's got a beautiful voice :-)

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  2. Hi Ali,

    That's another lovely one :) I've used her CD's as the soundtrack to relaxation in my yoga classes - so good. I was lucky enough to see her and her partner Miten live, back in 2004. Just amazing! She's German, and it was strange hearing her accent when they talked about the tracks, I had somehow assumed she was American. Ah well, you know what they say about assuming... ;)

    Have you tried chanting along? Maybe when Sonshine is out of the house :D

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  3. interesting. something for me to check out when i get the chance, hum...

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  4. Haha.

    I admit I'd be self conscious. I bet it IS very therapeutic because I love to sing and make noise but do often feel exposed.

    I bet this would be a perfect activity for me to do in the car (on a deserted road) while I'm alone on break. :)

    Loud Hugs,
    MM

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  5. Hi Bonkers,
    I love chanting, so I'm biased, but it is great on so many levels. Even, as Ali says, if you just listen to it.

    Hi MM,

    If you can sing at home, you can chant! You could get P to join in, she might like it, too. Otherwise, as you say, when you're out in the car... :)

    Harmonious Hugs,
    Chloë

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  6. I'm a great Deva Premal fan - just love anything she & Mitten put out. As for chanting ... tried it many years ago, always enjoy it, and at one point used to belong to a satsang group - loved it. But life changes - impermanence!

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  7. Deva Premal has a beautiful voice. There is also a wonderful version of the Gayatri Mantra by Sadhana Sargam.

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  8. I love chanting, as you know. :) Do you ever do any Gurmukhi chanting? It's associated with kundalini yoga, which I love...there are so many good Gurmukhi chants. I adore Maya Fiennes and Mantra Girl (Erin Kamler).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu0Nb2U7aAI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvDrLb45_ZQ

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  9. Hi Alison,

    Well, what goes can also return, though always in a different form... :)

    Hi 78mirrors,

    I think there are many great versions of the Gayatri Mantra :) I loved the fact that they had it as the theme song for the TV series Caprica!

    Hi Carla,

    Yes, I've done some Kundalini yoga, including their chants. I hadn't quite twigged that it was in Gurmukhi, rather than Sanskrit, though I guess I should have, as I knew it was from the Sikh tradition. I hadn't heard of either of those artists, either - lovely!

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