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    The Benefits of Chanting ( Japam)

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    The Benefits of Chanting ( Japam)

    From Hinduism, to Buddhism, to Christianity, to certain branches of Islam, to Hawaiian Kahunas, chanting has been an ancient practice thatís been part of various religious and spiritual traditions.

    Chanting is the practice of continuous recitation of mantras. A mantra, in turn, is a set of sacred words, syllables or sounds. I.e. chanting is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds.

    The practice of chanting is said to transform a personís vibrations, energize their chakras, and raise their mind, body and spirit to a higher state of consciousness, and be aware of God/Spirit. Chanting is also seen as a spiritual practice that can lead to a direct experience of God/Spirit.

    Different sounds have different effects on human psyche. If a soft sound of wind rustling through leaves soothes our nerves, the musical note of running stream enchants our heart, thunders may cause awe and fear.

    The sacred utterances or chanting of Sanskrit Mantras provide us with the power to attain our goals and lift ourselves from the ordinary to the higher level of consciousness. They give us the power to cure diseases; ward off evils; gain wealth; acquire supernatural powers; worship a deity for exalted communion and for attaining blissful state and attain liberation.

    A simple and effective way to begin your practice is to chant the sound of Om. Often times a yoga class may begin or end with this chant, believed to be the primordial vibration from which the universe came into being. According to one of the earliest sacred yoga texts, the Yajur-Veda, Om represents all of our past, present and future; and chanting this sacred sound brings calm and quiet to the mind allowing one to enter the deep silence that represents pure consciousness.

    To begin sit comfortably on a chair or cushion with straight back and hands resting on your thighs or knees. Close your eyes and listen to the rhythm of your breath. This allows you a moment to internalize your awareness and begin the act of listening while becoming sensitive to vibrations. The sound of OM has four syllables and is heard as AUM, or when chanted it appears more like AAUUUMMMM.

    The A is spoken as an ďaweĒ sound; the U is drawn out into a long ďooooĒ and ends with the lips coming together in a prolonged hum of ďmmmmmĒ. When you hold the final M, stay present and you will feel the vibration move up through the crown of your head. It is important to take a few seconds between each chant to sit in the silence that follows, thus connecting you to the pure intelligence that arises from the merging of sound into silence.

    In time your Aumís will lengthen as your breath capacity increases and the silences may grow longer, as you find the silence encourages a deeper meditation. The sound itself will guide you, but you must practice, alone or with a group of people; daily or several times a day; for it is in the doing that we benefit fully from the experience.

    Chanting brings us many medical, psychological and spiritual benefits. In initial stages of spiritual practice it may be difficult to recognize the benefits we derive from chanting. In later stages of spiritual practice too, knowing the benefits of chanting can restore our faith after we have experienced them.

    If we chant with the intention of achieving the basic purpose of human life which is to make spiritual progress, we will achieve our aim and experience all the other benefits of chanting too.


    Symptoms of a disease are visible before the disease sets in

    The distress from a disease due to physical, psychological or spiritual reasons becomes evident only when its presence grows to 30%. Then it manifests physically or psychologically. Due to chanting, we come to know of the disease even before these signs start showing. If distress is supposed to occur in the future, or presently if the distress is not evident, then with chanting the distress starts showing in the form of physical or psychological problems. This is because the organs that get affected by the disease receive positive frequencies from the chanting. Even doctors are unable to diagnose the disease unless the problem is present to an extent of 30%, whereas if the problem is present to an extent of 10-30%, e.g. if someone has a psychiatric problem, then due to chanting it is detected.

    Physical benefit due to mental stability
    When the mind remains peaceful due to chanting, one is free from psychosomatic illnesses precipitated by stress and enjoys good health

    Specific spiritual healing chants pertaining to specific diseases


    Chanting as a therapy in psychiatric illnesses

    Chanting is beneficial in a majority of psychiatric illnesses. Chanting Godís Name is perhaps one of the most effective therapies in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder.

    Subconscious mind gets purified through chanting

    The radiant energy from the Name destroys the impressions in the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind gets purified through chanting as follows:

    • Developing a liking for chanting and purification of the sub-conscious mind

    According to psychology, chanting Godís Name and that of a worldly object are quite similar. When a mother utters or hears her childís name, several emotions arise in her subconscious mind. These could be motherly affection, happiness, worry, aspirations, etc. This is because all emotions associated with the name of the object, that is the child, coexist. The memory of or hearing that name constantly activates the emotions. This is spontaneous and is a powerful driving force in a motherís life. Sometimes due to this very force a mother is prepared to sacrifice everything for her child.

    The psychological response in chanting Godís Name is the same.

    When we chant His Name, we have some emotion or image about God, consciously or unconsciously. We also have some notion about Godís qualities. We know from discussions that we benefit from Godís grace and that chanting His Name is the tool to acquire it. Therefore the spiritual emotion (bhāv) that we are chanting the Name of God who has distinguished qualities, accompanies the Name. Due to this spiritual emotion, emotions such as respect, love and devotion for God, fear of wrong actions etc. go on increasing progressively, while undesirable emotions on the other hand keep diminishing. Thus gradually the subconscious mind gets purified.

    • Reduction of impressions

    When chanting is going on, the conscious mind does not accept the impulses coming from the centre of the subconscious mind, like the desire and instinct centre, the like and dislike centre, the temperamental characteristics and the intellect centre. When this continues for long, gradually the impressions in these centres start decreasing and one experiences a calm state of mind.

    • New impressions do not develop

    While chanting is happening, new impressions about other things do not develop in the subconscious mind. Chanting Godís Name is perhaps the best way in a conscious state to prevent new impressions from developing in the subconscious mind. [In the states of concentration, meditation and samādhi (a super-conscious state of union with the Absolute God Principle) too, impressions about other things do not get created on the subconscious mind.]

    • Elimination of desires by chanting

    With chanting, the mind is less distracted by the attractions from outside. When this straying of the mind reduces, the desires and body awareness which attract us to the Great Illusion (Maya) automatically lose strength and we are able to get engrossed in chanting. Instead of satisfying desires, the mind gets absorbed in chanting. Thus, the desires reduce and eventually remain no more. Since desires are subtle in nature they require subtle-means (Godís Name) to reduce them. When desires reduce or are no longer there, we can remain in Bliss (Ananda), which gives internal satisfaction that is far greater than satisfying any of the desires that arise from the mind.

    Chanting increases introversion and introspection

    Introversion and introspection are both necessary to imbibe positive qualities within ourselves. Both these qualities start developing through the process of chanting.

    Chanting in the true sense commences only when we try to focus on becoming introverted. If we wish to observe whether chanting is going on in the mind, we need to focus inward, i.e. be spiritually introverted.
    The mind wanders and focuses on external stimuli due to its inherent nature and hence is not focused on chanting for long. Once we realize this, we should try to bring the mind back to chanting. In this process, we become aware of the thoughts or personality defects, which had prompted the mind to wander. This is introspection.

    Chanting increases concentration

    As the subconscious mind gets purified due to chanting, the impulses coming to the conscious mind from the subconscious also reduce and concentration increases. This way, any activity we do is done in a more calm, concentrated and perfect manner, leading to a more successful life and spiritual progress.

    Chanting purifies speech

    When we are engaged in worldly talk throughout the day, we reinforce impressions about the Great Illusion in our subconscious mind and make the mind impure. Since chanting purifies our subconscious mind with its Divine energy, this brings about a purification of our speech too.

    Benefits of chanting similar to those obtained from silence

    Chanting Godís Name is a type of silence (moun).

    Therefore the following psychological benefits of silence also occur with chanting.

    1. Reduction in worldly problems: Most worldly problems arise from our speech. With practice of silence they are naturally averted.
    2. We can avoid speaking lies.
    3. Control over the six internal foes: The six internal foes are basic defects that bind us to the material world and are responsible for our unhappiness. They are passion, anger, pride, envy, greed and attachment. When emotions like anger etc. are not expressed, we gradually gain control over them due to chanting.




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