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What Are Meditation Chants?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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Meditation chants are phrases or mantras that are repeated while doing meditation. The purpose of chanting meditation is to help center the mind around a single thought. Often, meditation chants are a single word, but may also be a complete phrase.

The tradition of using meditation chants began with Indian yogis who would use chanting as a gentle way of guiding the mind toward a single focus. In modern times, a meditation CD comprised of various types of meditation music may also contain one or more meditation songs that contain chants. When choosing meditation chants, many people have found that the chants are also featured in digital formats for various personal listening devices.

While meditating, many find meditation chants helpful in finding a simple rhythm by which they can relax and enter a calm state of being. A chant can be verbally repeated multiple times throughout a meditation session or may be repeated silently. Several meditation techniques apply the use of meditation chants differently with some only using chants at the beginning of meditation, while others will use chanting throughout an entire session.

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Some meditation chants are perceived to have great spiritual significance. For instance, repeatedly chanting the word "om" during meditation is believed to be a sort of prayer ritual, as that word is believed to be a sound that actually is God in the Hindu tradition. Repetition of this word is believed to help the mind focus on divinity, as well as having a physical effect in clearing the nose and throat.

Used in multiple meditation techniques, chants or mantras are usually repeated in the same tone each time they are used. While they are not used in every technique, practitioners do cite that using a chant helps usher in a sense of relaxation and that chants are useful in calming the mind by occupying it with a single focus. Some people use a meditation chant in each meditation session, while others only use this technique occasionally.

The idea of using a meditation chant may elicit thoughts of a soft, barely audible practice. In reality, however, some chants are recited quite loudly. Many also employ the use of meditation chants in group settings as a way of initiating a single focus among large groups of meditators. Most common to Hindu and Buddhist styles of meditation, people from other spiritual traditions also use chants and mantras. Often, such is the name of a key historical or spiritual figure, or may be a request for blessings from a particular deity.

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