Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chanting and the sound of Meditation

Chanting is to sing, speak or even hum words or syllables.  It can be done in one or more tones for harmony and is frequently done for spiritual reasons or as prayer. 

There is a very relaxing and meditative feel to chanting and it can be fun to do alone or with others to allow for a full and harmonic sound.

The relaxing sound and vibration of chanting can be very soothing and helps to reduce stress and anxiety.  It also helps individuals to practice deep abdominal breathing by setting a pace and emphasis on long slow breaths with full inhalations and full exhalations.

One of the most well-known of the mantra meditations is the Om mani padme hum mantraTibetan Buddhists believe that chanting this mantra/meditation/prayer invokes the embodiment of compassion.  They believe that simply “viewing” the written form of the mantra does the same, and so, the written form is seen throughout the world on prayer flags, prayer wheels, and carvings. 
                                         Om-mani-padme-hum 02.svg

The chant itself has many different versions, from singing it like a song, to simple one-tone chants.  

Another great form of chanting is something called the metta chant or metta chanting.  Metta means "loving kindness" and so metta chanting is a way to send out loving kindness to others and to oneself.  Metta chants go something like this:

May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be happy
May all beings be safe
May all beings awaken to
the light of their true nature
May all beings be free

Many chants can be found online in CD or DVD form.  They can be ordered on Amazon, or viewed and heard on YouTube or other popular sites.  They can be done alone without music, or accompanied by a variety of instruments. 

You will need to experiment with them for awhile and find those that resonate with your particular taste in tone, wording, and beliefs.  Many of the major religions have chants associated with their rituals, but chanting can be secular as well.

Here are some great links to some of the wonderful chanting out there, including work by Deva Premal, as well as Tina Turner, who converted to Buddhism in the 1970's.

OM Chanting
Deva Premal - Gayatri Mantra
Tina Turner

Thanks to Jay Galvin for his great photo - Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Wheel