What: Chanting meditation is a musical practice during which you sing or chant sacred mantras, phrases, and/or songs, often accompanied by live instruments. Some practices sing or chant in unison; others follow a call-and-response format.
Benefits: In Secrets of Meditation, author davidji writes, “The practice of chanting performs many of the same functions and benefits as a silent meditation, but instead of being in stillness, the chanter achieves a state of physical/emotional trance.”
A small but growing body of research on kirtan suggests that chanting provides myriad mind-body benefits. In 2012, UCLA researchers discovered that chanting mantras can have beneficial effects on stress and one of its primary culprits: inflammation. Another study found that singing mantras (or the reciting the rosary) can have a positive influence on cardiovascular health. And research conducted at some of the nation’s top research institutions, in conjunction with the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation, suggests that chanting can improve depression, sleep, and memory function.
Keywords: Musical, devotional, community-building
Try this: Because chanting with a live group of people can be quite powerful, try to find a chant event at a local yoga studio, Buddhist retreat center, or concert hall. You can also stream chants online or purchase some recordings.
When you chant, you can keep your eyes open or closed while you sit in a chair or on the floor and let the music wash over you. If the chanting is in a call-and-response format, see if you can learn the words so you can follow along. More importantly, keep your mind focused on the sound and feeling of the chant, and don't worry so much about getting the words right.
Try chanting along with Jai Uttal in this simple chant titled Sita Ram.
© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies