I have tried many forms of therapy and meditation, most of which are centered on changing thought patterns, but none of them worked as well as chanting. After countless hours of practice, urge surfing, and exercises to change my internal logic, I still felt anxious, fearful, riddled with doubt and at times downright paranoid. Sitting in silent meditation only made my thoughts scream louder and my heart beat more rapidly with each idea that raced through my mind. It was not that I didn’t try or that I failed at therapy, it was just I had yet to surrender to the divine order of life.
When we chant, these thoughts cannot creep up because we are repeating a phrase over and over. When I chant, a thought may arise but I don’t have time to entertain it. There is something about the repetitive rhythmic flow that pulls me from every day consciousness into a more tranquil state where I not only accept what is around me but fully embrace it.
It is similar to sleep. Dreams have no logical pattern, their order is jumbled, but it is our way of processing the ongoings of the day without the need for order which I find invokes anxiety, worry and the longing for control. For answers are not always available, everything is not black and white. Sometimes we must sit with the gray. And be okay with that.
A 13th century Buddhist priest first started chanting the phrase nom myoho renge ko which means I dedicate my life to the wonderful law of cause and effect. In this state of awareness, we do not use one of our five senses we tap into another level of consciousness. It is referred to as the ninth level of consciousness. It is that feeling of knowing but not being able to explain that everything will be okay.
As I chant, my body tunes into the vibration of my voice and I experience a oneness with my surroundings that is hard to explain. Before I started chanting I could not achieve this inner calm through silent meditation or even yoga practice, my mind still raced. When I chant, I stop judging my thoughts, stop trying to make things happen in a set time and I just trust the divine order of cause and effect that the Buddhists and Carl Jung speak about.
The entire world and everything in it is made up of vibrating matter. And what is a chant? It is a sound, it is a vibration and a vibration is matter. By chanting we connect ourselves to the oneness that surrounds us. We get out of our aloneness our singleness and feel the togetherness of the universe.
Sound has been used as a healing modality for centuries. But when it comes in the form of a prayer, we give up on it. Either because we fear it, don’t trust it or don’t see immediate results. But we lose out on what it does offer a calming peacefulness that clears the mind, stops the thoughts for a moment and just lets us listen. And by listening we open ourselves to the world.
A chant can be as simple as a single word or intention. It does not have to be nom myoho renge ko. It just needs to be something you feel comfortable repeating over and over. Start by chanting in the morning or fall asleep chanting at night. Whatever word or phrase choose, chant it to quiet your mind, open your heart and surrender to the endless possibilities this world has to offer.