Maybe to some of you who know me, it’s not such a little secret, but I love to chant in Sanskrit. In fact, every chance I get I chant. However, my husband doesn’t get it. Not that long ago, I asked if I could chant on a driving trip. At the end of the trip, he says, “I don’t get it, they just say the same thing over and over.” It might be the same reaction you get from a friend, about how good yoga practice makes you feel. One just doesn’t believe it, until they experience it.
Called Bhakti, or devotion, chanting is like partaking in God’s radio. And now, scientists are discovering, there are real mental and physical benefits to chanting in Sanskrit. Why Sanskrit? The sounds are specially constructed to penetrate the analytical mind and affect our nervous system very directly in how the tongue strikes the the roof of the mouth. They are like spiritual pharmaceuticals that enter into our soul with palpable physiological effects. It is this capability that gives mantras the very specific therapeutic and spiritual properties that are missing in our everyday language. What are some of the benefits of Bhakti?
- Reduces Anxiety and Depression (by adjusting our chemical composition of our internal states, removing fear and despair emotions)
- Releases Neuroses (it clears away subconscious habit patterns, that may be holding us back)
- Boosts Immunity (it releases serotonin and dopamine, known as the “happiness hormones,” due to the impact they have on our moods)
- Opens Intuition (By enunciating the mantra, the tongue taps certain points along the roof of our mouths, sending signals to the hypothalamus, which in turn, regulates the chemical activity streaming into all parts of the brain and body.)
- Increases Radiance (By vibrating a certain combination of sounds, we are able to tune into various levels of intelligence, or consciousness.)
The good news here, is that it’s easy and free to do. As Krishna Das has said, it won’t work if you don’t do it! All that is needed is some time and an open heart. The benefits of chanting cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can only be experienced through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the Mantra. We all live busy lives, and actually spend quite a lot of time in our cars. This is how I started. Pick a simple mantra, with good pronouncation. Sing it, say it, repeating it over and over. You will start to feel the difference, just like practicing yoga. After you know it well, go back and see what it means. Singing it now will have a different effect now you know what it means.
Until next time, we OM together,