“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made… And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:1, 3, 14.
Most spiritual traditions regard the spoken word as a powerful tool that can help aid us on our spiritual journey through life. Indeed, many teachings from ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts state that the entire material creation actually began with sound vibration. These teachings coincide with most Christian beliefs as evidenced in the Bible quotes from the book of John above. Even in modern psychology speaking positive affirmations is known to help bring about growth and change.
Taking these affirmations to the next level through the chanting of sacred mantras, prayer and contemplation is an important part of spiritual traditions worldwide and can be a relaxing and stress reducing form of mediation and personal reflection. The real power of chanting meditation is that it unites your body, breath, voice, and mind and focuses them through the activity of reciting spiritual mantras or prayers which can only have a positive effect on our lives and surroundings. While engaged in this activity, the mind experiences a significant degree of ‘oneness’ because during normal day to day life the rhythmic pattern part of the brain is not active at the same time as the conceptual part of the brain, but the act of chanting brings them together in
unification. The emotions are also expressed through the vehicle of the voice. It’s an extremely good and simple way to bring around a state of full concentration or Samadhi as you’re training all of your senses on one thing. This makes it easier to stop thinking about other things than during silent meditation where one’s thoughts bubble forth in a relentless unstoppable stream.
Through the practice of mantra recitation one can experience the sense of ‘oneness’ that still eludes many long term silent meditators. After long periods of chanting many practitioners notice the sensation of body and mind “falling away” and their chanting seems to unfold without any conscious effort. During this state they experience the feeling of being ‘One with the Universe’ also known as Samadhi. This state of ‘Samadhi’ or complete concentration is a long sought after and for many, unattainable spiritual jewel whose road becomes more readily reached through this ancient and sacred method of chanting. This is because during silent meditation there is only a suppression of the subconscious mind but during chanting there is a more complete silencing of it through the act of unification with the higher consciousness.
With the other senses and mind unified by chanting or prayer, a practitioner can also further attune themselves through the use of a Mala, or Rosary. Depending on what material your prayer beads are made you can also benefit from the positive vibration of that tool. This is why many chanters like to use beads made from crystal, gemstone or a sacred wood like Tulsi, Sandalwood, or Rudraksha Beads to name a few. Another benefit that many are unaware of are the stimulation of acupressure points on the fingers. According to acupressure theories, there are points on each of the fingers that can effect different parts of the psyche and brain. Theses points, called meridian points, are on the side of each finger, in the center between the tip and upper knuckle and are stimulated by rubbing the mala beads gently between your thumb and chosen finger meridian point.
The properties of the finger’s meridian points are as follows and can be heightened by using crystal or other special materials in your mala or rosary:
- Index Finger (Jupiter Finger): Wisdom. Knowledge. Prosperity
- Middle Finger (Saturn Finger): Patience.
- Ring Finger (Sun Finger): Health. Vitality. Strengthen the Nervous System.
- Little Finger (Mercury Finger): Communication. Intelligence.
When reciting a mantra during mala meditation you recite the entire mantra on each bead and use them to count a ‘round’ (usually 108 or a divisible of that number). That way you can also keep track of the amount you’re doing and use that as a gauge if you want to increase or decrease your practice. Most malas have a special extra ‘guru’ bead where you can say a special prayer or mantra at the start or ending of every round. Rosaries will almost always have a cross that serves the same purpose. When choosing your mala or rosary it is important to research and choose a material that is conducive to the results you are searching for.
The similarities between Eastern and Western prayer bead usage are numerous but there are major differences setting the two apart. Instead of chanting, practitioners say prayer sequences and contemplate the Mysteries of the Rosary. Here is a good explanation of how to pray the Rosary from OldWorldCatholicSupplies.com
If you are interested in finding a good mantra try the folks at mantrapedia or any of the other numerous online resources.