It’s a pleasure to be able to share with you all once again yet another interesting topic this week, I hope you all are faring well.
Last week I started a discussion on Meditation and I promised that we’ll try to do a second part where by we focus more on “chanting meditation”. In order to be able to fully appreciate this topic I suggest that those of you who are new to yoga or meditation in general, should kindly read Sound Vibration, and the part one to this sequel.
Having said that, let’s take a look at meditation by sound vibration or chanting.
What does it mean to chant? A chant is a rhythmic repeated phrase, usually chanted or shouted by one or more persons in unison. When the chant is of a sacred text then it becomes a mantra. Mantra is a Sanskrit word which means that which liberates the mind. Since meditation is more of a subtle thing than a physical feat it is very important that the practitioner has the desire, ability and training to curtail the excesses of the mind. When we allow the mind to run loose then our meditation is hampered and we find it difficult to attain the desired result we are looking for.
How does chanting meditation differ from silent meditation? As I mentioned in the first part of this blog, in silent meditation we are at the mercy of our mind’s dictate and prancing, if we cannot tame it. Usually many people start out as neophytes on the part of meditation and usually after a while they feel frustrated at the antics of the mind and just give up. They become helpless in the face of the situation and they conclude it is rather impossible to meditate. However if these practitioners can adopt the method of “chanting meditation” not only will they achieve success in their meditation process but they will also achieve the wonderful feat of curbing the mind’s excesses. In this light the major difference between both forms of meditation is that in the silent form of meditation, the practitioner is quiet or silent while in the second form, he does his meditation by using a chant, hymn or mantra.
Is it not distracting to chant while trying to meditate? On the contrary, it help one to focus. One learns to focus initially by concentrating on the words of the hymn, chant or mantra. Then as time goes on, one learns to concentrate on the meaning of the words, each time trying to see how best to exemplify those meanings, and in a more advanced platform one uses the mantra, hymn or chant, as a vehicle or medium to connect with a higher reality. The mantra thus acts as a conduit that transports the practitioner to a realm beyond his immediate physical reality. For gaudiya vaisnava’s who are on a more spontaneous level of devotional practice, the mantra is the wave which they ride in order to be able to fully associate with the Divine couple in their daily meditation of the lord’s pastimes.
What if while chanting I still get distracted in my meditation? This is not a new occurrence and it is bound to happen, the fact that this is happening and you can notice it means that you are beginning to keep track of your mind’s activities. Something that would have been difficult prior or with another form of meditation. The response to this will be to continue to chant while being aware of our chant, gradually with time and more practice the mind becomes steady and accepts the mantra.
Of what benefit is chanting while meditating? The benefits of chanting while meditating are innumerable. First and foremost the chanter gets a lot of spiritual merit for reciting such sacred prayers, hymns, etc. and because he is reciting it in a manner that is audible to others, all those who hear also get benefits. By constantly reciting the mantra, he gets purified of his misdeeds, especially if the mantra is the maha mantra. In addition to this he/she is in a constant contact with the Supreme Lord, because the Lord is non-different from his name or paraphernalia. Thus by chanting while meditating, the practitioner is soon to realize that he is more than just matter and that if he pays more attention to the chanting process, he can very soon identify his true identity.
Must the chant be sacred, can one chant whatever he likes as far as it is repetitive? The mantra has to be of sacred value and substance for it to help our mind, and connect us with the Supreme Lord. Just as it is impossible to quench one’s thirst by simply saying water and by actually drinking water, similarly mere repetition of words cannot help us connect to the Supreme Lord, because those words do not represent him. Moreover, by calling the name of a friend, it is certain that there will be a response, as opposed to saying gibberish and expecting our friend to respond. If we desire to connect to a higher reality way beyond our present reality, if we desire to tap into the waters of transcendental unlimited bliss then the chant has to be of sacred spiritual value. One of such chants is the maha mantra. ( Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare), or whatever chant that represents sacred value in one’s spiritual practice. The Christian can recite the Lord’s Prayer in Psalm and the Muslims can recite Al fatiyah (Bismilai rakmani Rahim).
Invariably the goal is to focus the mind and senses on a higher object and free ourselves of our base tendencies as we meditate and chant. Meditation and chanting are actually very sublime processes with which we can connect with the absolute truth provided we engage in them with the proper mood and mindset.
I hope this sheds some light on the topic till next week when I shall bring you another topic. Do read, internalize and share. Follow this blog for more and you can now listen to this blog on my podcast(http://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-c2pam-6d5530).