Monday, 17 November 2014

How Chanting Can Help You Meditate

how chanting can help you meditate
Do you find it hard to still your mind during meditation?

Do you tend to sit in your meditation class desperately trying to avoid thinking about what you'll have for dinner or those bills that keep piling up?

Let me assure you, you're not alone.

I was just like you, and sometimes those unwanted thoughts still trip me up, but I've come across a method that has helped me immensely, and perhaps you will find it useful, too.

First of all, don't underestimate the power of meditation. It's good for your general wellbeing. It helps you relax, build inner strength and thus promotes a healthy balance of mind-body-spirit.

But our busy monkey mind stops us from meditating effectively.

It's impossible for us to stop thinking. Even while we sleep, our minds produce thoughts in the form of dreams.

Buddhism teaches us that rather than trying hard to stop thinking, we need to trick the monkey mind instead.

How are we going to do that?

By giving it something else to do - something meaningful, too! - which helps us create some powerful magick within us at the same time.

Last year, whilst on a Buddhist retreat, I discovered chanting.

It may sound eccentrically new age to you, but believe me, after initially feeling weird, I felt its benefit almost straight away.

When you repeatedly chant the same words in the ancient and magickal language of Sanskrit, it becomes a mantra, which can gradually shift negative patterns in your life, depending on the meanings of the words.

So depending on what you want to manifest in your life, you choose the mantra that can help you make it happen.

What I love about chanting is that you don't need to sit still or in a certain position; at the retreat, we walked in a circle on a meadow and around a fireplace (nobody else saw us :))

For example, you can chant whilst having a relaxing bath, or you can of course choose the traditional meditation position.

mala prayer beads
My Mala prayer bead necklace - turquoise beads
divided by white beads into 4 x 27 sections
How many times should you chant the mantra?

The magickal number is 108. The best way to count correctly during chanting is by using a Mala prayer bead necklace. One bead for a complete mantra, until the circle is completed.

If 108 times sounds too much for you at first, you can also shorten your chant down to 27 or 54 times. These numbers are important and in Buddhist and Sanskrit teachings they have magickal powers.

The Number 108 divided by 4 equals 27. A Mala bead necklace is divided into four sections of 27 beads.

Do you need to have a good singing voice to chant?

No. You can simply recite the words repeatedly at a steady and regular pace.

Now that you know the basics, here are four chants I use:


1. Ham Sa

Pronounced: Hahhm Sahh

Meaning: I am That

This very basic mantra helps you ground yourself and focus on your breathing: Ham (inhale) Sa (exhale).

It is said to be a mantra for the heart; it helps you relax and centre. After chanting a round of Ham Sa, you may feel calm yet more energised.


2. Om Namah Shivaya

I discovered this chant in Elizabeth Gilber's book Eat, Pray, Love. I love the sound when I chant it; its vibration resonates with me deeply.

Pronounced: Aum nah-mah shi-vay

Meaning: I bow to Shiva.

The Hindu God Shiva symbolises the inner self, so by chanting this mantra, you honour the divinity within yourself, and it is said to promote self-worth and confidence.

A spiritual healing mantra, it is made up of five syllables, which represent the five elements earth, air, fire, water and ether.


3. Om Kleem Shreem Brzee 

This is an ancient Sanskrit mantra for bringing love and abundance into your life. It is often recommended for attracting money or new romantic love, but abundance doesn't always relate to financial wealth, and love can also relate to friendships, connectedness and a loving support network.

Pronounced: check out this YouTube clip, and if you like, sing along to get into the groove ;)

Meaning:

Om - universal sound of creation
Kleem - sound for spiritual development, love and devotion
Shreem - sound for the divine feminine associated with abundance and prosperity
Brzee - sound for removing scarcity from consciousness

Put these four sounds together, and you create an open mind and receptiveness to let love and abundance into your life by removing inner blocks and obstacles surrounding you.

You can shorten this mantra two-ways to make it more specific:

1. Om Shreem Brzee - to attract abundance and prosperity
2. Om Kleem Brzee - to attract friendships and relationships


4. Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung

A universal healing mantra, which consists of the sounds of the four universal energies

Ra - sun
Ma - moon
Da - earth
Sa ( repeated) - infinity

together with Say So Hung, meaning  I am Thou.

This mantra is said to build bodily resistance to disease and can have a healing effect on the body. Its sound stimulates flow and circulation of prana (life force) through the body.

Chant it steadily, inhaling Ra Ma Da Sa and exhaling Sa Say So Hung. Linger a little on the sound 'ng' in Hung as it is said to stimulate divine glands.

Notice this chant has eight syllables - the number of rebirth.

If you are a novice to chanting, then you may find the above mantras easy to pronounce and remember. With regular practice you will notice their calming effect and power to help you focus your mind on manifesting your desires.

For more information, you can search online for chanting meditation for beginners, or google the above mantras. There is a wealth of information freely available including viewpoints on how to chant "correctly". Remember to keep it simple at first before you delve deeper. One step at a time.

Let me know how you get on, and if chanting is already part of your spiritual practice, please share your tips and favourite mantras in the comment box below. I'd love to hear from you!

Warmest wishes,

Christiane



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6 comments:

  1. Hi Christiane. I've discovered chanting a few months ago. I used to chant with mala beads but now I chant only when my monkey mind takes over and needs to quiet down. When I experience stillness, I pause the chant.
    Thank you for the various chant examples. And I love your mala

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    1. Thanks, Ellen :) Good to know I found another enthusiastic chanter :) I actually quite enjoy chanting, even when my monkey mind does go quiet. For some reasons I like reciting the mantras, it's like casting a spell or performing magick.

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  2. Thank you for posting this. These are beautiful and you explain them clearly.

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    1. You're welcome, Leslie. Glad you've enjoyed this post. Thank you for commenting :)

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  3. I adore chanting! I often listen to Deva Premal, who is amazing. She did a 21 day chanting practice a while back that was gorgeous, and a great introduction to it. Probably my favourite chant is the Gayatri Mantra, which they also used in Battlestar Galactica's theme music :D
    You can hear Deva Premal chanting it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IFlaG45xM8

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    1. I love listening to Deva Premal; a few of her albums are available to download for free from YouTube, her voice is incredible, so I'm glad you've recommended her here for others to discover her, Chloe :) Listening to the Gayatri Mantra brought me back to those profound moments in Battlestar Galactica, which has one of the best soundtracks of all. The link to it is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhkmglawA2w :)

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