There are many benefits of chanting meditation for beginners to look forward to. This meditative style is traditionally used in Buddhism [read: Buddhist meditation] as well as in Hinduism yoga, and Christianity. And in my experience, it is immensely rewarding.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know to get started with chanting meditation.
What is chanting meditation—A Beginner’s Introduction
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 meditating very relaxing. The gentle humming sounds soothe you with their vibrational qualities and can help to promote the parasympathetic nervous system for a feeling of calm and inner peace.
What’s best about chanting meditation for beginners is that it is effortless and relaxing. You do not require any advanced knowledge or any formal tuition to get started chanting mantras.
Plus, if you have friends who like to meditate, you can get in a circle and practise chanting meditation with them too, for a fun group meditation.
Interestingly, different spiritual groups use chanting meditation in different ways:
- Tibetan Buddhist chanting meditations use a style of choral singing with different performers chanting different pitches.
- Meanwhile, Hindu chanting 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 different health benefits of chanting meditations.
Health Benefits of chanting meditation
Scientific research has revealed that there are significant health benefits of chanting meditation.
For starters, research shows that chanting helps with illnesses. In 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 chanting is good for healing?
According to DR Alan Watkins [Imperial College, London], chanting does help us heal. One reporter even stated that he knew a Buddhist monk who healed his leukaemia by using Buddhist chants.
Are you feeling stressed?
One of the benefits of chanting meditation that you can feel for yourself is the way it reduces stress and anxiety.
The gentle vibrations that chanting creates 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 chanting reduces the physiological impact of anxious moments in our lives.
Chanting is also possibly one of the best meditations to lower blood pressure.
A study by Telles, Nagendra, and Nagarathna revealed that people who practise chanting meditation have better cardiac output and lower pressure.
Want to improve your mood? An fMRI study conducted by the International Journal of Yoga revealed that chanting 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.
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, which enhances the sensation 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.
Amazing, isn’t it?
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the benefits of chanting meditation are significant. So how do you do it?
A simple chanting meditation for beginners
Let me teach you an effortless chanting meditation for beginners. It uses the sound “Om” (pronounced “Aum”).
- 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 so that the chant comes from deep within, and the vibrations of the sound stimulate the entire body.
- Take 27 deep breaths. 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 sensation of your breath moving through your body.
- 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.
Traditional chanting meditation in Buddhism
It is traditional to use chanting meditations in Buddhism. When we do this, we usually perform chants in Pali. These Buddhist chants are performed for various reasons, including as a sign of devotion to Buddha, to repeat certain important Buddhist philosophies, and to help with training in dharma.
If you ever visit Buddhist temples, you might hear them chanting the popular Buddhist chants. These include:
- 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]
Don’t you just love chanting meditation?
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, chanting 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.
What is a good mantra for meditation?
The best mantra 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 of chanting?
The benefits of chanting include relaxation, inner peace, reduction in stress and anxiety, improved mood, stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, and lower blood pressure.