This will be a complete guide to Buddhist chanting meditation for beginners.
If you have never tried this before, you will enjoy this simple exercise. I personally find it very relaxing. It’s one of my favorite types of Buddhist meditation, although it is also used in Hinduism yoga, and Christianity.
Let me show you a simple chanting meditation to start. And then we will discuss the science and the benefits.
A simple chanting meditation for beginners
- Sit or stand comfortably with good posture. You should feel stability in your body. This is important because you want your lungs to open fully. That way, the chant will come from deeper in your diaphragm, and the reverberations will stimulate your entire body.
- Take 27 deep breaths while humming on the out-breath. Feel your breath filling your lungs deeply, but do not force this. When you are relaxed, your breath will become deep by itself, effortlessly. While breathing, focus your mind on the humming sound at your lips.
- Start to chant “Om”— you pronounce it “Aum”. You should feel the sound resonating between your rounded lips. Relax your throat, so there is no tension. You should feel a connection between your abdomen (the lowest part your breath reaches) and your mouth (which is where the sound will resonate).
- You are going to chant “Aum” 108 times. While you do this, focus your mind on the sound between your lips. It should be a resonant and relaxing sound.
- When you get to the 81st breath, meditate on the feeling of the sound resonating in your body. You should be able to feel gentle vibrations that are calming your body, almost like a massage.
- Continue until you reach 108 breaths. Open your eyes. How are you feeling? Relaxed and happy? I thought so.
What is chanting meditation?
Chanting meditation is the practice of meditating while reciting various chants, which are often in the form of mantras [READ: Meditation Mantras For Beginners].
You’ll find this style of meditation very relaxing. The gentle humming sounds soothe you with their vibrational qualities. They promote the parasympathetic nervous system. And that will make you feel calm.
What’s best about chanting meditation for beginners is that it is effortless and relaxing.
Plus, if you have friends who like to meditate, you can get in a circle and practise chanting with them too, for a fun group meditation.
Interestingly, different spiritual groups use chanting in different ways:
- Tibetan Buddhist chanting meditations use a style of choral singing with different performers chanting different pitches.
- Meanwhile, Hindu and yoga chanting tends to focus on the Bhakti tradition, which is focused on loving devotion to god(s).
- Christians use choral chanting in the church to show devotion to God or Jesus Christ.
- And non-spiritual individuals use chanting meditation for relaxation and various health benefits.
Speaking of which; there are many health benefits of chanting meditation.
Health Benefits of chanting meditation
Excellent for Healing
Research shows that chanting helps with illnesses.
For his book “Healing Sounds”, Jonathan Goldman researched a group of French Benedictine monks who chant daily. When these monks decided to stop chanting, they became sick, and during periods when they were chanting daily, they rarely if ever became sick.
Does this mean it is good for healing?
According to DR Alan Watkins [Imperial College, London], it does help us heal. One reporter even stated that he knew a Buddhist monk who healed his leukemia by using Buddhist chants.
One of the benefits of chanting meditation that you can feel for yourself is the way it reduces stress and anxiety.
The gentle reverberations in the body help the muscles to relax and also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Scientific research conducted by the University of Hong Kong revealed that it reduces the physiological impact of anxious moments in our lives.
Balances Blood Pressure
Chanting is also possibly one of the best meditations to lower blood pressure.
A study by Telles, Nagendra, and Nagarathna revealed that people who chant have better cardiac output and lower pressure.
An fMRI study conducted by the International Journal of Yoga revealed that chanting meditation stimulates regions of the brain including the, parahippocampal gyrus thalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate gyrus, insula, and orbitofrontal cortex.
In turn, it improves our mood and can even help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Helps with Addiction
Chanting can even help with addictions. In 1991, Sethi, Golechha, Deshpande, & Rani’s research revealed that chanting for six weeks twice a day in the morning and nighttime led to a reduction in delta and alpha brainwaves. This shows an increase in feelings of inner peace. In turn, it helps to reduce dependency.
You might also like to use chanting for sleep. Studies show that the gentle act of chanting helps stimulate the relaxation response to let us get a restful night’s sleep.
Traditional Buddhist chanting meditations
It is traditional to use chanting meditations in Buddhism. We do this for various reasons, such as to show to devotion to Buddha and for training in the Dhamra.
Some Buddhist chants are quite famous. For instance:
- Tiratana (The Three Refuges)
- Pancasila (The Five Precepts)
- Buddha Vandana (Salutation to the Buddha)
- Dhamma Vandana (Salutation to his Teaching)
- Sangha Vandana (Salutation to his Community of Noble Disciples)
- Upajjhatthana (The Five Remembrances)
- Metta Sutta (Discourse on Loving Kindness)
- Reflection on the body (recitation of the 32 parts of the body).
- The traditional chanting in Khmer Buddhism is called Smot. [list from Wiki]
There are so many great things about chanting meditation for beginners to enjoy. You’ll love how simple it is to get started, and you will quickly see the benefits, such as relaxation and reduction in the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Is chanting a form of meditation?
Chanting may or may not be a form of meditation, depending on how you practise. If you simply chant without meditating then no, it is not meditation. However, if while chanting, you focus your mind on the sound of the chant, then yes, it is a form of meditation.
What do you chant when meditating?
Different religious groups perform different kinds of chants when meditating. Buddhists use sacred songs and sounds for chanting meditations, which are often taken as excerpts from different texts. Yogis will usually chant a simple sound such as “Om”. Christians have various chants that are similar to prayers.
You can also use any mantra.
What is a good chant for meditation?
The best chant for meditation is “Om”. This is the universal sound and one of the simplest sounds to meditate on. If you are Buddhist or Hindu, you might like to use sacred mantras, which have various benefits depending on which mantra you chant.
What are the benefits?
The benefits include relaxation, inner peace, reduction in stress and anxiety, improved mood, stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, and lower blood pressure.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison