My Year of Discovering How Weird the Mind Gets, Pt. XI [Chanting]

Some people swear by the mind-altering properties [and other benefits] of chanting mantras. I’ve been reading a review copy of Kulreet Chaudhary’s “Sound Medicine,” a book whose play-on-words title says it all. It’s about the way sound is either shown or speculated to have health effects. (Full-disclosure: Some of the speculation gets a bit out there.)  Chaudhary is both a medical doctor and an Ayurvedic practitioner, and has an outlook akin to that of Deepak Chopra.

Chanting has never been my thing. I’ve learned about it and done some in yoga training, but I can’t say it ever resonated [no pun intended] with me. However, in the spirit of investigation, this month I did a few one hour and half-hour sessions of chanting. I kept it very basic, chanting AUM as I was taught with equal parts of A – U – and – M.

While I can’t say that I’m sold that chanting is the ultimate practice that achieves outcomes unachievable through other means, I will say that after these sessions I do feel a sense of calm and clarity. I can certainly see why mantra chanting has appeal for so many people, even though I also believe that, sadly, it’s sometimes oversold as something supernatural and the discussions about it are needlessly complicated.

2 thoughts on “My Year of Discovering How Weird the Mind Gets, Pt. XI [Chanting]

  1. Chanting has never been my thing either. But I spent quite a bit of time in Zen retreats when I was younger and periods of chanting were part of the schedule. During one retreat in which I experienced a fairly deep dissolution of ego (which lasted for at least a week), during a prolonged session of chanting my body and mind dropped away, and I became only the chanting. In hindsight, the chanting probably was not indispensable but it was certainly a skilful means to deepen the ego-less state.

    Later, I spent a week in a Japanese monastery, and I have to say that the hour long chanting session each day was largely experienced as a form of mental and physical torture. I recently attended a very different type of retreat where a breathwork practice was taught. Involved prolonged specific breathing patterns, and kicked me into a quite altered state of consciousness. I suspect chanting may be able to do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting article / post. The power of sound and the spoken word is an almost universal theme in spirituality and religion though. Get your hands on Israel Regardie’s recordings of the proper way to do the Golden Dawn’s Middle Pillar Ritual for a good example.

    Science has also shown that the right pitch of sound can shatter glass or stone, boil liquids, etc… It’s astounding.

    Liked by 1 person

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