Using the voice is very effective in stopping the constant chatter of the mind. If you have trouble shutting your mind off, this technique could work for you.
Try this short exercise:
Take the time now, to sing ‘Mary had a little lamb’ (out loud or to yourself).
While you were singing, how many thoughts did you have?
It’s impossible to think and sing at the same time. To be able to sing, you need to use your mind. It has to be engaged in the activity. So the mind can’t have any other thoughts at the same time. Singing is a very simple technique to focus and still the mind.
This is the basic premise of how Mantra and chanting work.
If the chant or Mantra has no specific meaning, you won’t get hung up on the words or caught up on the meaning. The mind can simply let go and enjoy the experience.
What’s the difference between Mantra and Chanting?
Mantra is a Sanskrit word or phrase used to alter your emotional or psychological state. Mantra has a specific meaning and chosen for a specific use.
For example, if you would like to enter a state of peace or have a wish for peace for all beings then use the simple mantra
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
An example of a more complex Mantra is the Gayatri Mantra
Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.
This is a Mantra for gratitude to the Divine and for all we are given.
Chanting is similar in technique but any wording can be used in a chant.
‘Love, compassion’ or ‘I surrender’ are examples of chants.
How and when to chant?
I recommend chanting or Mantra when the mind is particularly busy. If there is a lot going on in your life or your mind won’t seem to settle then this technique can be very useful. It can be done anywhere as it doesn’t have to be out loud. It can be done under your breath or in your mind and it will still have the same effect.
Even if you are in a particular stressful or triggering situation, you can change the pattern by chanting in your mind. This can shift the chatting mind to a more relaxed one in a very short time.
Mantra and chanting can also be used as a regular meditation technique. Find a quiet place, sit in a comfortable position and repeat your chosen Mantra or chant for as long as you feel comfortable.
As you practice you may find you transcend your thoughts and can raise your level of awareness.