Monday, October 15, 2012

The Importance of Chanting

This is a topic I haven't covered before (and admittedly, don't know much about), but was suddenly inspired to look up.
This Video is one of my Favorite Wiccan Chants. The Earth, The Air, The Fire, The Water

Lately I have been feeling off balance or haggard. I have had many stresses in my life this past year including Starting a New Job, Planning a Wedding, Getting Married, Bringing our Kitten to the ER after he ate a Tiger Lilly, Money Issues, Gaining Weight, etc.
Needless to say this has left me feeling Tired, Unmotivated, Stretched in Every Direction, and Generally Off Balance. Until today, I spontaneously remembered how I felt last year when I joined the Witches Circle in Salem on Samhain. I felt like a new person after that, The Drumming and the Chanting realigned everything inside me, and I was left with a feeling of wholeness, and renewal. And it made me feel closer to the Divine Spirits the Goddess and the God, as well as gave me another perpose in life.
Anyway, While thinking about that I decided to look on youtube ad watch some of my favorite Wiccan Chant Videos, and I almost instantly felt better.

Interested, I did a little research on the topic of chanting and I am going to share some of what I found.
The AAH sound, a primary sound to humans, is found in the many ways we invoke the Divine: Amen, Allelujah, Allah, Brahma, Ahtma, Shekina, Wakan Tanka, Pacha Mama, Gaia, Da, Jah, Jehovah, Amitaba Buddha, Kuan Yin, Ofunga. Medicine Men & Women, Shaman, Yogis, Sages, Healers and Mystics in all walks of life have stressed the importance of chant for deeper spiritual awareness, healing and a way to clear the mind. Everything in the universe emanates from vibration and its essence-energy. Vibration, which translates to us as sound, ranges from the gross to the subtle.

Native Americans have a deep tradition of healing with chants that clear physical ailments as well as remove emotional trauma and evil spirits.  Many of these songs have been passed down through generations and are in effect today.  The Medicine Man or Woman chants to the ailment and sends it on its way to the Light.

In India, the energy system known as Pranamaya Kosha, is comprised of the Nadis and Chakras (subtle channels through which energy flows) which are receptors of vibration.  These Chakras are highly influenced by sound which is why music has such a strong impact on us. It is believed that sound vibrations created by the voice can refine and attune the bodily systems, Nadis, mind and intellect. When music is practiced to transform the personality or ego into total absorption with the Divine, then it becomes Nada Yoga.  In North Indian Classical Raga, the note “Sa” is equated with Brahma (God), the sound wave that created the universe. From this one note all others arise, the way all beings are made manifest from the One Divine Being.

Chanting is very good for the health, and also leads us eventually to "peace of mind".

To explain the importance of chanting for spiritual growth, let's first look at the human brain. There are two different sides to our brain. The left side controls the rational, calculating mind - this is the part of the brain that allows us to think mathematically, scientifically and logically. It breaks down ideas into a step-by-step process. Our whole modern society is based mainly on the achievements and point of view of rational thinking.
The right half of the brain controls our intuitive mind. This gives us the human ability to appreciate art, music, poetry, and religion. The intuitive mind perceives things holistically - we appreciate a piece of music or a beautiful sunset, we have a flash of insight, or we feel spiritually inspired. These feelings come from our intuitive mind, in contrast to our rational mind.
Chanting is also good for our health, for a number of reasons:
  • The very sound of chanting helps to heal our bodies and minds. Parents have been singing lullabies to their children through the centuries. We all know that when we feel tired, it helps to listen to some soothing music. Scientists have taken this a step further through the study of plants. If you take a greenhouse full of plants, and play the music of Bach or Handel, which is very regular and rhythmical classical music, the plants flourish. But if you play discordant, disorganized, erratic music or sounds, the plants respond - by failing to grow. Plants fail to thrive in an atmosphere of disorganized sound. Discordant sound makes us nervous, and harmonious sound, such as chanting, heals us. Chanting is one of the most healing sounds in the world.
  • When we chant, it also acts to regulate our breathing. In to-day's world of "fast lane lifestyles" whatever we can do to slow down and regulate our breathing helps us. The automatic thing to do when we become frightened or uptight is to breathe in a shallow way, and that makes us feel more tense. Do you notice, when chanting, that your breathing rate goes down? And if your breathing rate goes down, then your heart rate goes down. And if your heart rate goes down, then your blood pressure also goes down. Chanting brings a general "cooling-down" of your whole body.
  • If done wholeheartedly, Chanting acts to release negative emotions. As you know, holding on to the emotions of anger and frustration over time makes us sick. We can clear out stress and irritation in several ways: by vigorous exercise, by singing, by shouting, and by chanting. Chanting is a physical exercise for the body that empties the lungs and muscles of toxins created by frustration and stress.
  • Another health benefit of regular chanting is that it brings us to a steady rhythm. The movement of the sun, the movement of the plants, the changes of season, our heartbeat, the movement of the tides - all these are done in rhythm. Balanced and healthy people are people who have balanced rhythm.
  • Chanting also acts to clean our mind. The nerve pathways of the brain are like a road map in a densely populated region. Some pathways, the ones we use all the time, are like major highways; others are like countryside unpaved roads. The action of Chanting gives healthy variety to our brain activity, using different pathways and mixing up the brain signals for a while. This gives a rest to the regularly used pathways of the brain, and promotes cleaning of the mind.
  • Chanting also focuses our thoughts. Group chanting is really group meditation. When we put all of our attention and all of our emotion on one word at a time as we are chanting, we are learning how to focus our mind.
Chanting exercises our intuitive mind; it soothes our nervous tension; it regulates our breathing. It focuses our mind, and teaches our body steady rhythm.
This video is one of my favorite Wiccan Chants. The Triple Goddess Chant.