Chanting is an ancient and universal meditative vocal practice. It is prevalent in many cultures in both the East and West. Examples include African and Native American tribal chant, Vedic and Buddhist chant, Christian Gregorian chant, Judaic chazzanut, Tibetan throat singing, Islamic Dhikr and Hawaiian mele oli and mele hula.
Chanting a mantra is the repetition of a word or phrase in a steady rhythm. It may be spoken or sung on moving pitches. It may also be repeated inwardly or aloud. Even when repeated inwardly, the inner rhythms and vibration caused will have an affect on the body and mind and potentially, the spirit. Mantras may be comprehendible sacred words or may be meaningless sounds, but a main feature is that the mantra is not a discursive sentence. The simple sound is often more useful than a translation of the meaning of any words. Without a cognitive connection to words the sounding individual can give over to the immediate reverberatory effect of the sound itself.
Mantra is a Sanskrit word that means ‘that which protects and purifies the mind’. The Sanskrit meaning is comparable to the English words of ‘charm’ or ‘spell’. This is because the purpose of reciting a mantra is to pursue a certain result – to maintain or restore good health, to attract abundance – to overcome obstacles – to eventually attain enlightenment. The belief is that mantras have a creative power that can change a person’s circumstances by affecting their chakras and subtle body and their aura, which is the vibratory energy field around them. With the change in the internal and external energy fields the state of the body, mind, and spirit will change.
Although chanting may occur within a religious context it is not a religious experience per se. Chanting and mantra may be used to rally and unify a sports team. It may be used in a protest march or a political rally. It may be a call for an action at a performance –‘encore, encore’ or a wedding or other gathering – ‘speech, speech’. The prolonged vibratory sensation of a chant will have an affect on the body and mind of the chanter either to soothe or inspire. If a chant is repeated rhythmically over a period of time an altered state of consciousness may result. This altered transcendental state constitutes the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment in various Eastern religions. When the chant is repeated by a whole group, the vibratory energy will have an affect on the chanters as both vocalisers and listeners. The mutuality of the chanting experience renders the vibratory effect even more profound.
Forty Days for Transformation
Chanting a particular mantra or a series of mantras over 40 consecutive days provides a practice opportunity for transformation. The choice of 40 days for transformative chanting is significant. The number 40 has sacred relevance in a number of religions. In Judaism, the Old Testament tells us that rain fell for 40 days and 40 nights while Noah’s Ark protected his family and the animals (Old Testament Genesis 7:4) . When the rain stopped Noah waited 40 days before releasing a raven from the Ark. (Genesis 8:5-7). We are also told in the Old Testament and the Islamic Quran that that Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai when he received the Ten Commandments and lived 40 years in Egypt and 40 years in the desert. The Islamic religion teaches that Muhammad was 40 years old when he received the revelation from the angel Gabriel that he was to be a prophet destined to teach the new Islamic religion for the balance of his life. In the Christian faith, we are told that Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert while tempted by Satan. Successful in his resistance he began his ministry thereafter. (New Testament, Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:13 and Luke 4:2) Forty days is also the period of Lent and the time between the Resurrection and the Ascension (New Testament, Luke 24) Forty also happens to be the number of weeks of human gestation. There are also other examples in mathematics and science where 40 is a significant number.
The following chants can be used to initiate or enhance a meditative state. Chant can also be used to warm up the voice before a presentation or a meeting.
This mantra is recited to ‘tune in’ to begin a Kundalini yoga practice. Adi means first or primal. It is the first creative action.
‘I call upon divine wisdom’
Ong – Creative energy of the total cosmos
Namo- Reverent Greetings, bow to or call upon a higher consciousness and discipline.
Guru – Source of wisdom, transformative knowledge
Dev – Divine, belonging to the realms of God
Namo – Reaffirmation of humility and reverence
The first sound ONG places the voice at the soft palate near the back of the roof of the mouth and provides immediate access to resonance. It incites energy and is a different process and sound than OM, which is a sound used for withdrawal and relaxation.
For voice work, the syllables within the mantras that follow provide a combination of consonants and vowels that get the resonators and articulators engaged quickly and seamlessly.
GANESHA’S MANTRA Ganesha is an Elephant headed deity known for supporting the removal of obstacles
Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha (pronounced ‘om gung guh-nuh-puh-tuh-yay-nahm-ah-ha’)
“Om and salutations to the remover of obstacles”
This is a mantra for peace of mind and calmness. It acknowledges that the Universal consciousness is One.
Ideally, it should be repeated 108 times
Notice formation of lips, placement of tongue and movement of resonance
PANCHAKSHARI MANTRA (Adoration to Lord Shiva)
Om Namah Shivaya (Om nah-mah shi-vah-yah)
‘Om and salutations to the auspicious one. May the elements of this creation abide in me in full manifestation’.
‘I bow or merge with my own divine self’.
This mantra acknowledges the oneness of universal consciousness. It is made up of five holy Sanskrit syllables and represents the five classical elements of creation, earth (NA), water (MA), fire (SI), air (VA) , sky/ether (YA), all of which also relate to the first five chakras. It is preceded by the primordial sound OM. Recitation of this mantra is said to bring calmness to the body, clarity to the mind, and insight for the spirit.
ARDAAS BHAEEE Mantra Prayer
When singing this mantra the mind body and soul become integrated and without even articulating what you want, your life will adjust to fulfill your needs. This chant can help when you are going through a difficult or challenging situation, including during a time of doubt like in a shakti pad.
Slightly roll the R for “ardaas”
Hand mudra – relax the arms by the sides of the rib cage, bring hands to heart centre, interlace the fingers with a slightly tighter grip than usual. For feminine energy, left thumb over right and the reverse for masculine energy
Amar Das Guru
Amar Das Guru
Ram das Guru
Ram das Guru
Ram das Guru
SIRI GAITRI MANTRA
The ultimate Sanskrit healing mantra
Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung
SO HUNG translates as ‘I am Thou’. The mantra means ‘The service of God is within me’. It taps into the energies of the sun (RA) moon (MA) earth (DA) and the Infinite Spirit (SA SAY) to bring deep healing individually, and to the World. The SO represents both merger and identity and HUNG is infinite vibration. It is generally chanted on a simple tune starting on G above middle C, dropping to middle C, then on to D, and E, to finish on middle C.