Chanting is a way to rejoice, free your mind, centre yourself and connect with the divine. It has profound positive effects on our spiritual and emotional health. We can release all kinds of emotions through the practice of chanting. For mental health, it is an accessible tool for the relief of stress, anxiety and depression. It has also been shown to boost mood and improve cognitive functions and increase the brainwaves that are related to deep relaxation and sleep. Wow! Now there are some good enough reasons to give it a try.
Chanting has many benefits that are often overlooked, but what stops people from fully embracing their voice and the practice of chanting? Even if people are informed of the benefits, does it come down to a fear of judgement? This is understandable in this hyper critical, modern western world that has silenced us in so many ways. People that are completely new to chanting may also be thinking “this is weird” or feel like it’s totally out of their comfort zone. Whether you are spiritual, religious, an atheist, or closed off from anything that is out of the ordinary, I hope this inspires you to let go and relax into the healing powers of chanting. Even just listening to chanting is healing and soothing for the body and mind. And you never know, you may naturally begin to join in without a conscious thought or any real effort.
Your voice is your very own sound healing tool that can be used for self-soothing, cultivating love and joy, clearing out stagnant energy, and repressed/suppressed emotions. Chanting stimulates the vagus nerve, initiates the parasympathetic nervous system, and gets you out of your head as it signals to the body that it’s safe. It is considered an embodiment practice and besides the obvious benefits that are felt at the time of practicing, it also brings with it many other life improving benefits such as increased self-confidence and self-esteem, enhanced self-expression and an overall sense of confidence and ease. It is a way to truly connect with your authentic self.
In Yoga, devotional chanting is part of a branch of yoga called Bhakti. Bhakti Yoga practitioners focus on opening the heart to manifest love, hope and joy. The practice of devotional chanting and/or singing is also referred to as ‘Kirtan’ and this usually includes a call and response process where the listeners respond to the leader in song/chant. Through devotional chanting we can tune into unconditional love and the concept of non-dualism (we are one). Chanting is an ancient sacred practice that is becoming more and more popular due to its profound benefits, even for the listener. You’ve probably heard “Aum” or “Om” being chanted. This is a Sanskrit word and mantra which is said to represent the primordial sound of the Universe. If you sit in silence, you may be able to hear the very subtle sound of Aum. Listening to or partaking in the chanting of “Aum/Om” has been proven to have a positive effect on the mind and results in an increase in delta and theta brainwaves. This makes chanting an amazing antidote to stress.
Devotional singing is a big part of Christianity and other religions and many of you will remember singing hymns at school or in church. The words are generally used for praise and worship, and usually tell a story to inspire us to live with more kindness and gratitude. Gospel singing is another example of how uplifting and healing this type of music therapy can be. Gospel has a very important history in the evolution of music and healing through singing and music.
An easy thing to try first, if you’re completely new to chanting, is bumble bee breathing. This has similar benefits to chanting and can prepare the body, breath and voice for chanting. Sit comfortably with a straight spine, cover your ears with your thumbs and cover your eyes with your four fingers, then inhale deeply and exhale whilst creating a humming sound with your voice. You can add counts to keep focussed. Notice the healing vibrations move through your chest and into the rest of your body. This is you creating your very own sound healing!
If you’re then ready to move on to chanting, you could start by practicing alone whilst listening to chanting on music streaming platforms. Find sounds that resonate with you, and even just by listening make you feel at ease and more present. Another option is to just sing! Sing songs that make you feel good and notice what happens in the body and mind. Let go of self-judgement and what it sounds like. It’s more about what it feels like energetically.
Let’s be honest, some people think chanting is weird! I’ve even had someone say to me before a sound bath, “you’re not going to chant are you?!” as if they were fearful. I promise you that devotional chanting comes from a place of pure love and light, and its main purpose is to simply bring about joy. I’ve experienced overwhelming joy from the practice of chanting and laughed as well as cried my way through a chanting session. This is because I’ve reached a stage where I’ve let go of the fear of judgement and ‘weirdness’, and now connect deeply with the benefits. Chanting sets me free and lifts me up to higher frequencies. The more emotional you are as a person, the more devotional chanting will resonate with you. It’s a process of letting go and really opening your heart.
By using the practice of chanting regularly, you’ll become more present, peaceful, and compassionate towards yourself and others. Like most things that aim to improve spiritual and emotional health, it really does take practice. By default, our subconscious mind usually resists anything like this and goes back to looking for the stressor. Chanting provides a gateway to a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind, and it can remind you that joy is readily available, even in times of adversity.
I truly believe, from my professional and personal experience and studies, that if you are open to chanting, and your intentions are aligned with the practice, you can experience powerful natural healing on a holistic level. It excites me to know that these tools and practices are so readily available. Whether you are in tune, loud, quiet, whispering or humming, the benefits will become apparent once you begin. And as always, don’t forget to have fun and not take it too seriously. Be joyful in your exploration!
Book your spot on my upcoming Chanting Workshop at Nuture Saddleworth on 2nd July 2023 from 4-6pm by clicking here
With love, Rebecca x