Chanting helps focus the mind, vibrate the body in a way that is soothing and healing, and cultivates mindfulness, courage, and other worthy qualities. Chanting has also been used to help people memorize long passages. This article teaches you how to chant, so you may also enjoy these benefits.
At the Boundless Love Project, we typically chant at the beginning and end of our meditations. The intro chant is to help us set some loving intentions for our meditation. The ending chant is to share the benefits we gain from the meditation with all people, all beings, and all life.
Download and print a PDF copy of the script of these chants which you can use at home.
How to Read a Chant Script
Chants only have three notes. On the script, bolded syllables go to the high note. Underlined syllables are chanted on the low note. And all others syllables use a middle, or baseline, note. It does not matter what the three notes are. Just find a range of notes that is comfortable given your vocal range.
Top Tips for Chanting
• Chant with as much peace, ease, and mindfulness as possible.
When you chant, put some of your awareness on your inner body so you can monitor how peaceful, calm, and relaxed you are as you chant. Do your best to be as calm, relaxed, and mindful as possible.
• You may not feel calm while chanting, and that's fine.
You may feel awkward, uncomfortable, uncertain, or other types of aversion to the practice of chanting. These kinds of aversion are common whenever we try something new. Mindfully notice what arises for you, but don’t let these emotions, and their associated thoughts, stop you from doing your best. Through practice, chanting will become more natural for you, and possibly even a practice you enjoy.
• Mistakes happen, and that's fine.
It is inevitable that our minds will wander during chanting. When this happens we may trip over the words, not make a proper note change, or lose our place on the chant sheet. Let these lapses in mindfulness be part of your practice. Let them teach you how to immediately forgive yourself and to love yourself while you make a mistake. Let them teach you how to calmly and peacefully return to being mindful and being focused on the task at hand.
• It is not important how it sounds.
Sounding pretty is not the purpose of chanting. We cultivate equanimity by being at peace with how our voice sounds in the moment. When we chant with a group of people, we may not be chanting the same notes or harmonizing the various notes, and that is fine. The purpose of chanting is to cultivate skillful and wonderful qualities such as courage, focus, determination, peace, kindness, compassion, joy, generosity, forgiveness, and more.
• Feel the meaning behind the words.
As you become more comfortable with the logistics of chanting and the chants, do your best to feel the meaning behind the chanted words. Feel the subtle, energetic sensations of kindness, love, compassion, peace, joy, and generosity in your body. These sensations are very faint, and require your stillness and concentration to feel clearly. If you can’t feel them, that is fine. Kindly set a loving intention to do your best to feel them, and then be at peace with whatever unfolds in the present moment.
• Chant to the beat.
When I chant on my own, I do not do this. However, when chanting in a group, it is helpful to chant at a rate of one syllable per beat. This creates an easy way for everyone to chant in synch with one another.
We hope this brief tutorial helps you feel comfortable starting a chanting practice of your own. If you have any additional questions, please leave them for me in the comment section below. Thank you!
Wishing you love, peace, compassion, and joy.