I first chanted at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. From the first moment, sitting in the circle with my fellow Yoga teacher students, I felt something deep and powerful. The chant truly resonated.
You can change the way you feel, you can improve your mood and outlook, you can calm your mind and relax your body. Just give this some time every day.
Is it praying? Many of the mantras in the chants appear as prayer. They are beyond prayer. They connect your energy to universal energy. They inwardly attune your Qi (chi), or Prana, as it is called in Sanscrit.
Why should you chant? The most basic and perhaps the least important reason is the deep calm that the chant creates. You actually feel your physical body relaxing; meanwhile, you discover that you are sitting up straighter, extending your spine, and breathing better. The act of chanting encourages this superb posture. It is very difficult to hold long notes when your body is slouched.
Another reason is that it helps you meditate. So many people say that they are not able to focus their thoughts, or empty their minds, or think of nothing. Meditation is challenging. Chanting brings us into focus; chanting helps our minds empty and our awareness expand.
The first chant that most people practice is the single syllable Om or Aum. Om is the Universal Sound. It is the vibration of the Universe.
Here are a couple of chanting sites:
- Try this one: Om Chanting Meditation: Very Powerful.
- This is my personal favorite: Om Chanting Spiritual Meditation Ascension, I feel the vibrations in my body immediately.
- Another chant that I love is Om Namah Shivaya.
You can learn about it here: http://www.swamij.com/om-namah-shivaya.htm.
- This is beautiful, not my favorite, but beautiful: Mantra-Ravi Shankar-Om Namah Shivaya.
- I like this as well, sung with a much higher voice. Om Navah Shivaya 108 Times Chanting - Shiva Mantra.
- One of the most profound of chants is Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. You can find very good information about it here at http://9dozen.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/maha-mrityunjaya-mantra-and-its-meaning/. This page gives you the word pronunciation, and also explains the meaning of each word. I have listened to many on YouTube, but by far the best can be found here at Mahamrityunjaya Mantra - Mantra Singer Hein Braat.
Your Daily Chanting Practice:
- Sit. Don't lie down. Don't stand. The floor is better, but if you are uncomfortable, use a straight-backed chair.
- Close your eyes. Think of looking at the backs of your eyelids. Notice the colors or blotches of light that you see there.
- Bring your attention to your breathing. Start with simple awareness, then switch to Post-Birth Breathing.
- Start with 10 minutes each day. This might seem like a very long time, but you'll discover that you are sitting for longer and longer periods of time.
- Listen first. Don't try to chant right away.
- Feel the sounds; don't just hear them.
- If you do have the words in front of you, look at them without staring. It's easier to learn the Sanscrit words when you are simply reading without trying to chant. Read for a few rounds, then close your eyes again and just listen.
- Start with humming. Then, open your mouth and breathe the sound of Aum (Om).
Set aside a regular time of day to mediate and chant. Pick a clean and quiet spot. This is your time. Allocate only as much time as you truly can afford. If you do otherwise, you'll find your mind wandering to what other things you must do. So, if you have 15 spare minutes, allocate 10.
Make this work for you. You'll find many subtle but very real and profound changes.
All steps to Balancing.