What Is Chanting?
Chanting is the rhythmic recitation of a string of words that have spiritual or religious significance. It may involve the repetition of a specific phrase over and over again. People often recite chants as part of their daily prayer, during religious sermons, or while they meditate.
Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism are some of the religions that stress the importance of chants. Several Hindu mythological stories describe revered men chanting mantras (a word or words having a religious or spiritual connection) for a long time in an attempt to appease the Lord Almighty.
How Is Chanting Beneficial For Health?
The act of chanting has a close association with God or spiritual Gurus (teacher or mentor). It is a lesser-known fact that chanting certain incantations has a therapeutic effect on the mind and body.
Below are some of the health benefits of chanting.
Psychological Well Being
Most people resort to chanting as a way of developing and maintaining their emotional and psychological health. Stress brings along a myriad of negative emotions and may initiate a downward spiral for many. The chanting of mantras restores the disturbed sync of each cell present within our body. It releases endorphins which are ‘feel-good hormones of the human body. Regular practice of therapeutic chants helps in stress relief, getting rid of anxiety, a depressed mood, and irritability. Chanting has a therapeutic as well as a preventive effect against several psychological disorders.
Healthy Neurological Functioning
Chanting has a soothing and relaxing effect on the nerves and helps overcome physical fatigue and tired feeling. People who practice chanting feel more energetic and have healthy physical stamina.
Regular chanting has helped people recover from tremors caused due to neurological dysfunction. Rehabilitating alcoholics and drug abusers, patients suffering from Parkinsonism, Alzheimer’s disease, and other brain disorders benefit a lot from regular chanting.
Active Cardiovascular System
Chanting stimulates the heart and blood vessels, allowing them to circulate blood with more efficiency. It helps to unclog the arteries and clears away any debris accumulated within. Improved blood circulation will allow better oxygenation of tissues and prevent oxidation of cells. Chanting also helps to maintain optimum blood pressure.
Robust Hormonal System
Hormones rule the functioning of all other systems in your body. An intricate and slightly complex mechanism involving the brain and several other glands control the flow and levels of hormones within your bloodstream. Chanting is known to activate chakras, which are arbitrary points of energy distributed evenly within the human body. Activation of specific Chakras balances the levels of hormones, allowing them to function in perfect sync.
Normal Sleep Cycle
A disturbed sleep cycle is a problem most of us face at some point in life. Irrespective of the cause, regular practice of chanting helps to cure all types of sleep troubles. Chanting allows the brain and nerves to relax, thereby promoting a healthy sleep cycle.
There are billions of cells in our body that work in perfect harmony to carry out various functions. Chanting creates healthy vibrations that help to reset the internal disturbances within the body cells. Chanting is also known to tap energies that lay dormant within human bodies. Chanting allows reenergizing the various body cells, which is responsible for its therapeutic effect.
What Are The Several Ways Of Chanting?
Chanting involves the repetition of single or multiple words in a specific manner and requires discipline. Follow the below tips while you chant.
- Your mind needs to be relaxed while you practice chanting
- Ensure that your surroundings are quiet and removed from the chaos
- Try to remove all thoughts from your mind and focus on yourself and your chants
- Focus on relaxing your body
- Sit on the floor, preferably cross-legged, while practicing chants
- Close your eyes for better focus on the chanting
You may begin reciting chants that you can correlate with your need to practice chanting. You may choose chants belonging to any religious faith. As long as your intent of chanting is pure, all chants will work wonders for you.
Here are the several ways to practice chanting:
You may choose to recite the chants clearly and audibly. Loud chanting will reduce the chances of distraction significantly and allow you to focus better. Reciting the chants out aloud enables you to feel the power behind the chanting. You can experience complete mental and physical rejuvenation with a session of loud chanting.
Chanting without reciting the words out loud is ideal for those who enjoy their peace. You may repeat the chant mentally, over and over again, till you feel mentally at ease. Mental chanting allows you to restore your energy through chanting without disturbing your quiet environment.
You may not want to recite your chants in an audible tone, but you don’t want to miss out on any crucial part of the chant either. You may opt to mouth the words without any sound at all. Lip syncing is a great way of chanting your mantras without losing track of any specific part of the mantra.
One must remember that it is not the method of chanting but the dedication that matters. People chant for various reasons; while some seek spiritual solace, some look at chanting as a form of healing themselves. Irrespective of the intent, chanting comes to the aid of everyone who embraces it.
Chanting And Science
The practice of chanting among Hindus dates back to an era of 3000 years ago (as of 2021). There is ample research done on the effects of chanting on human health.
Regular practice of chanting helps to successfully suppress the area of the brain that causes distraction and loss of mental concentration. Doctors have deduced this connection between chanting and mental health through a series of studies and neuroimaging techniques. Chants like Aum Namah Shivay or simply uttering the word Ram to remember Lord Ram have a positive effect on the neurological functions of the body.
Studies have revealed that chanting the word Vitthal repeatedly has a therapeutic action on cardiac activity, blood pressure, ejection fraction of the heart, and even oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
All the cells within our body vibrate in sync with one another to allow the normal functioning of various organs. Disturbed vibrations within a particular organ will affect its functioning and cause ill health. Chanting helps generate positive vibrations within the cell, which help restore the original frequency of the now diseased cell. This is the core principle for the therapeutic action of chanting.
Why Is It Important To Pronounce The Chants Right?
In the olden times, chanting was a way to achieve one’s spiritual goals and find purpose in life. Chanting verses from ancient Hindu scriptures like Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, and Upanishads show the true enlightenment path. Regular practice of chanting mantras is crucial for the one who seeks solace and meaning in life.
The concept of a material body encompassing an immortal soul is a common belief among followers of the Hindu religion. Chanting and meditation are ways to detach oneself from the earthly body and focus on enlightening the soul. The universe came into being from nothingness, long before the Earth existed. It was full of cosmic force and vibrating energies. Chanting helps create vibrations of a similar frequency within your mind and body that resonates perfectly with the cosmic vibrations. These vibrations can positively affect your mind, body, health, and spiritual self, like no other force.
There are arbitrary points of dormant energy lying within the body, known as Kundalini. Chanting helps activate the Kundalinis, giving the practitioner more power to train and bend their minds according to their will.
Activation of energies through chanting is a way to focus your mind, attain spiritual goals and become detached from the material world. But all this is possible only with the impeccable pronunciation of the mantras that you chant. The chant is not merely a string of words, but it holds deep meaning. The purpose of chanting is to evoke the power within its words and embrace it.
The Sanskrit Connection
Most Hindu chants consist of words that require the tongue, glottis, and vocal cords to move in a particular rhythm. It is the rhythm, the pronunciation of words, and the tone of recitation that activates dormant energies lying untapped within your body. Hindu scholars wrote most of the religious and spiritual chants in the Sanskrit language.
Sanskrit is the pure and beautiful language of Gods. Sanskrit is an ancient language and is very closely related to over fifty basic sounds. These sounds are telepathic and are connected with the natural vibrating energies of the cosmic universe. Every syllable and vowel matter while speaking in Sanskrit. One wrong pronunciation here and there changes the whole meaning of the sentence. Religious chants or spiritual incantations will hold no importance if their definition varies. They will fail to create the vibrations that they should without the proper tonality.
Hence it is vital to practice your Sanskrit and perfect your pronunciation as you practice chanting.
What Are Beej Mantras?
The word ‘Beej’ stands for ‘seed’ in the Sanskrit language. Beej mantras are holy words endowed with immense spiritual powers. The term Beej is used metaphorically to denote that these mantras are the ‘seed’ from which most other mantras are derived or created. The emanation of several sound vibrations accompanied the creation of the universe from nothing. These sound vibrations are the origin of the Beej mantras.
Hindu Maharishis (sages) from the era that dates back to as much as 5000 years ago (as of 2021) spend their entire lives studying the intent behind the Beej mantras. They passed on the knowledge to their disciples, who in turn shared the knowledge with their disciples. Each Beej mantra corresponds to the vibrating frequency of a particular Hindu deity. Thus, each Beej mantra is akin to calling the Creator to bless you by evoking the flow of spiritual energy through your body. This helps the advancement of one’s journey to achieve their spiritual goals.
Apart from having immense spiritual and religious importance, the Beej mantras also have special healing powers. Their therapeutic vibrations treat many health disorders ranging from simple digestive disturbances to more serious cancers.
Below are some important Beej mantras and the names of the deities or powers they relate to.
- Om- Lord Parabrahma
- Shreem- Goddess Lakshmi
- Kreem- Goddess Kali
- Hrowm and Hoom- Lord Shiva
- Aim- Goddess Saraswati
- Hreem- Goddess Bhuvaneshwari
- Gam- Lord Ganpati
- Kleem- Mantra of Shakti (dynamic power of the cosmic universe)
- Dum- Goddess Durga
Each planet in our Solar system also has a Beej mantra of its own. Astrology experts often advise people to recite these mantras to eliminate the ill effects that the planet may pose to them. According to Hindu beliefs, planetary positions and powers at the time of a person’s birth control their destiny and birth chart. Beej mantras curb the unfavorable effects of these planetary positions.
The Role Of Beej Mantras In Activating Body Chakras
Chakra is the Sanskrit word for ‘wheel.’ The chakras within our body are spinning wheels of energy that control the functions of all other organs. Ayurveda describes the presence of seven main chakras distributed at several points along the spine.
In a healthy individual, all the chakras must be open and aligned in a specific manner with each other. Chakras are responsible for unique behavioral and physical traits in a person. Ayurveda attributes the occurrence of any health disorder to disturbances in the alignment of chakras.
Reciting Beej mantras is the key to adjust the balance of the chakras. There are separate Beej mantras, each having a deep connection with one particular chakra of the body.
Lam is a monosyllabic Beej mantra corresponding to the first chakra of the body, lying at the base of the spine, and corresponds to the genital and pelvic organs.
The second chakra of the body is on the spine at the level of the belly button. The sound of Vam is the Beej mantra corresponding to the second chakra.
The sound Ram is helpful to balance the disturbed energy of the third chakra of the body. The third chakra is at that level of the spine that controls the stomach area. It is also known as the solar plexus chakra.
Yam is the singular sound that corresponds to the fourth chakra, also known as the heart chakra. The Beej mantra of Yam helps to align this chakra that is at the center of the chest.
The fifth chakra (throat chakra) and lies in the nape of the neck. Ham is the beej mantra that helps to rectify the disturbances in the alignment of this chakra.
Om is one of the most important of all the Beej mantras. It is the beej mantra corresponding to the sixth and seventh chakras.
These are the beej mantras for each of the main chakras. The syllable Om is the most commonly used and one of the most potent beej mantras.
Pronounced as A-U-M, the beej mantra of Om can create super-powerful vibrations within the human body. Many Hindu Vedic mantras begin with the syllable Om. Om chanting is beneficial for good health and also for spiritual progress. Yogis living centuries ago resorted to continuous chanting of Om to attain Dirgha Ayushya or long life.
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Om allows the flow of positive vibrations through your body, thereby boosting your energy and mental strength. The vibrations created by chanting Om are capable of activating kundalinis, which are dormant sources of force or energy located at the base of the spine. Activated kundalini keeps all the chakras open and aligned with one another.
People performing the Jaap (chanting) of Om know that the sound originates from the navel and rises to the throat while reciting it. Therefore the uddiyana bandha is the ideal pose during Om Jaap. The uddiyana bandha is a posture taught in Hatha Yoga that involves pulling the abdominal wall inward as if getting the navel closer to the spine. The practitioner of this bandha must hold their breath till they do not relax their abdominal wall.
A bandha is a posture during which a specific part of your body should remain unmoved and restricted. The Jalandhar bandha is another posture commonly associated with the chanting of mantras and other spiritual words. This type of bandha focuses on the muscles of the neck and throat.
The principles of the Hindu religion strongly advocate the concept of reincarnation. Ancient Hindu scriptures describe that our physical body is perishable, but the immortal soul exists forever. The scriptures further instruct on how to use the material body to achieve spiritual progress for the soul. The ultimate aim of every soul should be to attain salvation by merging into the greater cosmic energy, the universe. Chanting beej mantras like Om is one way to guide the soul during this spiritual journey.
Some Important Hindu Mantras
Mantras and Jaap are an essential part of Hindu culture. There are several mantras dedicated to a particular Hindu deity. Reciting these mantras is a way to evoke the blessings of that particular deity. Below are mentioned a few religious Hindu mantras along with their benefits.
‘Om Hanumate Namah’ is the simple way of chanting the Hanuman mantra, which means ‘bow to Lord Hanuman. Lord Hanuman is a deity known for his immense physical strength and symbolizes physical fitness and health. He is also the epitome of benevolence and a generous giver. Chanting the Hanuman mantra is a way to keep good health and remove obstacles that separate you from your goals.
Goddess Lakshmi is the Hindu deity of wealth and abundance. People seek Her blessings to lead a fruitful life. Om Lakshmi Namah, Om Dhanay Namah, Om Hreem Hreem Lakshmi Vasudevaya Namah, Lakshmi Narayan Namah are some of the mantras to appease Goddess Lakshmi. The vibrations of these mantras are auspicious and offer protection from any bad omen. People often recite the Lakshmi mantra before any important task or event.
Gayatri mantra is among the most well-known Hindu mantras. The mantra is as follows.
‘Om Bhur Bhuvah Swah, Tat-savitur Varenyam, Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonah Prachodayat’
This all-powerful mantra can calm down even that mind which is facing the most extraordinary turmoil. Students will benefit immensely from a regular recitation of the Gayatri mantra, as it helps to increase mental focus and the power of concentration. The Gayatri mantra is therapeutic for a wide range of psychological and physical health disorders. It also detoxifies the mind and body. Reciting the Gayatri mantra helps to expel darkness and negativity from life.
The Gayatri mantra is dedicated to Goddess Gayatri, the mother of the four Hindu Vedas.
Hindu books and scriptures written in the ancient era are full of spiritual and religious mantras. These mantras are not merely a collection of words but powerful phrases that can change lives. Recitation of mantras is the best way to achieve progress in your spiritual journey.