What's with the chanting?
If you've been to my class enough times, you've probably heard me chant/sing Sanskrit mantras at the end of class. This is something I came to through my ISHTA studies. The "full" ISHTA meditation concludes with chanting several mantras. I learned them gradually, first listening in during group class, then chanting quietly while fumbling the words I didn't really know. I eventually learned them all, but even in those early days, just listening was powerful and soothing. And so along with learning to chant for my own practice, I began, timidly at first, sharing that with my students, chanting during the resting period at the end of class.
I generally don't like to sing, but the feeling of chanting is magical. For me, it's not the words (though I choose only mantras with meanings that resonate), it's not the melody (there isn't one), it's the vibration inside. Those of you who are singers probably know well what I'm talking about. But if you're not a singer, maybe chanting --or just humming-- can give your vibration a voice, too.
And if you're not sure why you should bother, well, only you can say for sure, but I can tell you that there is evidence that humming (and chanting) can help to soothe your nervous system -- and contribute to vagal tone when you don't really need soothing. (What is vagal tone? It's basically how easily you can move between being riled up and being calm.) Which means that if you like the humming, chanting, or singing, keep doing it! And invite others along to the party, it's good for all of us 🙂
Want to give it a try?
I shared the full series of meditation chants (called "regrounding mantras" or "samyama") on the Everyday Meditation podcast so that you can! Each mantra has two episodes. On the first, I share what I know about the mantra and break down the Sanskrit so that you can learn to repeat it. (My very loose interpretations of the mantras are based on what I learned in practice from my teachers, not literal translations -- if you want those, google can help!) On the second, I chant the mantra several times as you might in regular practice. You can listen or chant along.
Here are the links to the episodes:
Introduction: Intro to the Regrounding Mantras
Be moving, be true, be you,
photo credit rowan heuvel, found on unsplash