By Akash

Chanting has been one of the most powerful spiritual practices to grace my life. Every aspect of ourselves may serve as a doorway to the infinite. Just as our bodies become powerful conduits for the transformation of our beings, we can use the power of sound through the instrument of the voice to awaken, purify, and uplift ourselves on the deepest level. What is this power, how can it be such a force of awakening?

Through the power of the OM vibration, we are aligning ourselves with the intelligence that dances in all of creation. This physical reality which we call the physical plane, is a manifestation of the OM vibration. Spirit, the pure absolute consciousness beyond creation, is perfect stillness. In order for this universe to come into existence, there must be movement; a vibratory rate, a frequency. That which we call OM is the frequency which dances in the atoms, forms perfect spirals in seashells, ignites the life in the union of sperm and ovum. It is to this frequency that we align ourselves by singing the Sacred Songs and Mantras. Through this alignment comes tremendous power, to cleanse and awaken ourselves on our deepest level; in the chakras, in our cells, and in our emotions. At the same time, our chanting sends forth powerful waves of light that literally protect and heal the planet. This is especially true when we chant with a conscious intention.
Chanting is making love to God. The heart chakra spontaneously opens, the cells are purified, the mind clears. Chanting unifies our consciousness, and we experience on a cellular level our inherent oneness. It goes far beyond intellectual concepts into true knowing. Through the same primordial steps of manifestation, through the power of sound, we retrace our steps back into our own divinity. This is a gift that is waiting for us to simply open and receive, like the fragrance of a flower. When we are in attunement with the harmonious motion of the universe; spontaneous healing, emotional release, and ecstatic trance states are experienced by those who lift up their voices freely, in uninhibited joy and fervor.
This is a practice which cleanses the throat chakra, enabling us to find our true voice, our self-expression, our freedom to be an instrument for healing. This spills over to empower us in every endeavor, in every aspect of our lives.
Paramhansa Yogananda, said: “Chanting is half the battle.” What battle is that? Like Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, we make a choice in every moment between our own “higher” and “lower” selvesOur higher selves are that which leads us to know beyond any shadow of a doubt that we already ARE, and always have been, ever-expanding, ecstatic joy. Our lower self leads us to the ultimate pain; the illusion of seperation. That is the battle. Chanting can lead to victory.
Meditation is said to be both a still mind and an open heart. In the practice of chanting, the heart is opened. Yoganada’s guru, Sri Yukteswar, who was a great Gyan Yogi, or Yogi of Wisdom, said, “One cannot take even one step forward on the spiritual path without Love.” Chanting evokes that love. It seems to be the most pain-free, grace-filled route to Awakening! When you chant, focus deeply at the point between the eyebrows. Diving into the bottomless well of devotion, invoke the presence of that expression of divinity that is in the chant or Mantra.
When I chant to Shiva, I cannot end the chant until the tangible Presence of Shiva is felt in the room. Electrifying the whole body like a pillar of light in the spine, Shiva is the destroyer of all that we yearn to release in order to be free. Anything less would desecrate His name. Anything less is not chanting. When singing to the Divine Mother, I feel like a tiny baby held in absolute, unconditional, universal Love on Her lap. If the chant is to Krishna, the golden waves of playful, intoxicating lovesongs envelope the heart like the sound of His flute. No wonder the women would leave their chapatis burning on the fire, helpless to do anything but follow His call! Calling us back home to unceasing awareness of our own oneness with Spirit.
Even on the days when you resist meditation, when your yoga practice seems too hard, you can always chant. When you are working, you can chant, and your work becomes a beautiful offering of love. Ram Dass once said that in chanting “Hey Bhagavan” as he drove across the United States, he entered into such a state of bliss that it was the first time he “ran out of miles!” Chances are, if you just open your mouth and sing your favorite chant, you’ll find yourself already swimming in the sea of the infinite, and meditation will flow effortlessly from within. When you start your day with chanting, you become aware that throughout your day, just behind your thoughts and activities, there is a mantra flowing like a river, reconnecting you again and again with your own True Self. As is said in Africa, “if you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing. This is a gift, a rare flower of intoxicating fragrance, a raft across the ocean of delusion. Just reach out and embrace it.