Buddhism- How to Chant
A Buddhist chant is a great way to connect with oneself and with others
on many levels. You might wonder what it is, or how to do it?
There are many answers to these questions.
First, you can chant alone or
with others. Both have
its benefits and its rules. The effects are different for
and it’s a good idea to do both, if you can.
Buddhist chant when alone is the easiest. All you need is
mouth, tongue and ears. You can do it in the car while
driving (my favorite) in your shower or while walking the dog, if
you’re not afraid of looking out of place.
In it’s basic
form, you just empty your mind, recites your chosen Buddhist
chant (or one assigned by a
teacher) the number of time required. It is important
not to shout it as you will strain your vocal cords and shouting has
nothing in it to calm your mind. The ideal volume of voice is
the one you would use to talk to someone accross the table from you
If you are in a place where there are others in ear range, you can
sub-vocalize your mantras. You lose the benefits
waves has on your body but the calming and meditative effects remain.
Some people use a nenju, a set of beads or
a rosary to count the
number of times they recite the mantra. Usually these
rosaries have 108 koshu
beads (children beads) used to count the mantras.
There are also 2 boshu
splitting the 108 beads in 2 sets of 54.
You don’t count them when you chant your mantras. Each sect
has its own style, for example the Shingon school (depicted here) has
extra smaller beads used as counters and extra strings attached to it.
It is stored as seen in the picture above.
I recently found this great book on Buddhist chants on Amazon and warmly
recommend it to
anyone interested in chanting.
Group chanting has many advantages. When I went to massage
school, one of the teachers used to make us meditate at the beginning
of the day and sometimes we would do heart-chants as she called it.
We would sit in a circle and sing a single sustained
vowel sound. The hamonics of it were incredible.
You can feel the vibrations enter your body when you sing on
the exact same note as someone else. It’s a great way of
harmony with someone else.
The Chinese Taoists called it resonnance. A string played on
a guitar will make the same string vibrate on another guitar.
The effects are magical.
Chanting mantras in group is good to create a group dynamic, harmony
and share your energy with others and receive energy from them.
Elder, more experienced members of the group can also lead by
example on the correct pronunciation of the mantra and on the speed and
tempo to use.
Usually there is a leader in the group that will keep track of the
duration, will decide when to change the mantra, or in the case of
sutras, some parts are reserved for the leader, like the introduction
part which serves as an announcement.
The most experienced person should usually be the leader.
That’s it! Enjoy chanting and its benefits on your soul, mind
Here is a question asked by a reader and my answer: What
to chant to make other people happy?
If you missed it, go here to learn about what
is Buddhist chant
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