In addition to my daily Primordial Sound Meditation practice, I enjoy chanting mantras out loud to bring me to higher states of consciousness. My favorite five that I encourage you to explore are the Gayatri Mantra, so devotionally chanted by Deva Premal; the shanti mantra, a part of my daily ritual since 2003 and sung by all Primordial Sound Meditation instructors around the world when they teach a student his or her primordial sound mantra; the hanuman chalisa, first sung to me by the sage Bhagavan Das, with the empowering encouragement in its final verse: Pavantnai sankat haran, Mangal murti roop, translated as, “Oh! Conqueror of the Wind, Destroyer of all miseries, you are a symbol of Auspiciousness”; and the sri durga aarti, celebrating the divine fusion of compassion and power in a spiritual warrior and the awakening of our divine feminine Shakti energy; and the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra also called the Tryambakam Mantra, known as the death-defying mantra.
The practice of chanting performs many of the same functions and benefits as a silent meditation but instead of being in stillness, the chanter achieves a state of physical/emotional trance through the process of continuously repeating a sound, word, mantra, or the name of God.
Devotional chanting goes back thousands of years and has been celebrated in ritual and religion as a way to achieve deeper contact with the divine by shifting attention from the past or future to the present moment. The premise is that during this process, your attention can only be on the sounds you utter or hear—not on any other thought, sound, or sensation. This is exactly what I experienced that morning cruising down the Mekong River in Cambodia. The continuous repetition of words, mantras, vibrations, or sutras—whether in the form of prayer, song, or responsive reading—creates a state of higher consciousness, but the delivery system is one of the physical and mental realms.
When you utter sounds, you are using the tools of your voice (your mouth, your tongue, your vocal chords, uvula, throat, lungs, and your breath), and the effect is for the outer ear known as the pinna (the part that extends from your head to capture sound waves and direct them down into your external ear canal. These mechanical sound waves bump against the tympanic membrane (your ear drum) and make it vibrate. When your eardrum vibrates, it tickles the first of three ossicles (the three smallest bones in your body!) sending the vibration along in a very specific sequence.
The 1st ossicle called the malleus (because it is “mallet shaped) vibrates against your 2nd ossicle called the incus (because it is “anvil shaped”), which then vibrates against your 3rd ossicle known as the stapes (because it is “stirrup shaped”). The stapes then vibrates against the window of the cochlea (meaning “snail shaped structure”) which is filled with fluid. The vibration creates a pressure wave in this cochlear fluid which then travels deep inside the cochlea into the Organ of Corti which has tiny hairs suspended in the fluid which send signals toward the brain. At this point, the mechanical energy becomes a neural signal that we understand as sound. It is then that the intellect, and then the soul resonate with the sounds.
Learn more about chanting meditation in my book “Secrets of Meditation.”