Life Moving Too Quickly? Start a Chanting Practice

Chanting can unpeel layers of ourselves and encourage a real, true slowing down

book-cover-800This is an excerpt from Wanderlust: A Modern Yogi’s Guide to Discovering Your Best Self, a curation of ideas and practices from master yogis, provocative thinkers, mind-body experts, cutting-edge artists and innovative business leaders. Order your copy at wanderlust.com/wanderlust-book-discover-your-best-self/.

 

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It’s good to do practices. It’s good to do asana and meditation and chanting. But it is also important to think about and understand what we are trying to accomplish with these practices. For many of us we are trying to find something, trying to slow down.

The pace of Western life is so insane. We forget what it is like to really go slow. We return home after work and turn on the television or music or get busy reading the paper or talking on the phone. We don’t really slow down until we try to sleep at night, and then we watch all those 90 channels as we fall asleep.

Chanting, the repetition of the names of God, can unpeel layers of ourselves and encourage a real, true slowing down.

Chanting is not about getting something. It’s not about becoming the best yoga practitioner in your part of town, on your block. It’s about trying to find out who we really are and find some sweetness in life, a sweetness that lasts and doesn’t depend on how the outside world is treating you at that particular moment.

It’s about trying to find out who we really are and find some sweetness in life, a sweetness that lasts and doesn’t depend on how the outside world is treating you at that particular moment.

We often chant Sanskrit terms that mean things like divine presence, God, the soul, the oversoul, but the real meaning of these names is not something we can think about. It is something we have to and will experience directly from within. It’s something we feel. That’s the whole difference. Everything comes from inside. It’s subtle. Through the repetition of these names it is said that gradually, but inevitably, the presence that is hidden within us, our own divine presence, and the atman, the soul, God, whatever you want to call it is uncovered. And that means it’s already in there. We are not getting anything from the outside. We’re not making anything. We’re not creating anything. We don’t have to emotionally manipulate ourselves to get high. We are not pushing away any bad feels to grab ahold of good ones. We are peeling away to an essence. What’s underneath good and bad, holding on and clinging, pushing away, attachment and aversion, fame and shame, name and gain, is who we are. That’s what these practices actually uncover. Simply uncover it.

Remember, all these practices are really offerings that we make to the Heart of All. You are offering your labors up to others, to the universe, to God, in joy.

After all, where are we going to find peace of mind if we can’t be at ease with ourselves?


Chanting Your Way IN

We should understand these practices are meant to clean the mirror of our hearts so that when we look in that mirror we see what really is there, not the dust on the surface. If you look at a dusty, dirty mirror all you see is the dirt and the dust. But that’s not really on you, it’s a warped image.

For me the effects of chanting were immediate. The first time I heard chanting in India I felt: “right, this is it. This is what I want to do. This is it. This is what I need.” It was a simple, relaxed feeling—a goodness.

So I kept going around. I kept singing. That was my practice. Every place I heard chanting going on I got there somehow, the best I could.

Photo by Mike Regan.

krishna-dasLayering traditional kirtan with instantly accessible melodies and modern instrumentation, Krishna Das has been called yoga’s “rock star.” With a remarkably soulful voice that touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener, Krishna Das—known to friends, family, and fans as simply KD—has taken the call-and-response chanting out of yoga centers and into concert halls, becoming a worldwide icon and the best-selling western chant artist of all time. His album ‘Live Ananda’ (released January 2012) was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Age album category.