Chanting is a common spiritual or devotional practice in many religions. Typically, a chant is a word, phrase or poem that describes the Divine or God as defined by that particular religion that is repeated over and over in a meditative posture. This can be done in a group or alone.
While chanting can be done within a religious structure, it can also be a very fulfilling personal spiritual practice for the solo practitioner. A person needs no experience with any religion in order to start chanting. All that is required is a willingness to give it a try.
My own background in chanting began when I was studying at a Japanese Pure Land Buddhist Temple in Hawaii. I learned many of the ancient chants that were quite long and involved. Most of these were performed during services and as ceremonies. Although they are very beautiful and I enjoy chanting them even now, they are not very accessible to those who want a daily practice that is fairly easy.
Then I found Nichiren Buddhism. What is unique about this organization is the lack of clergy. There is no hierarchy and they focus on chanting practice. The Lotus Sutra is their main doctrine and the chant is the title of that sutra.
Namyo Ho Renge Kyo
(visit http://www.sgi.org/resources/introductory-materials/ to learn more)
Roughly speaking this translates to connecting with the Buddhahood within.
When chanted over and over, this is a practice.
Let’s use this as an example.
Scientific research shows that chanting and meditating effect the brain in ways that reduce stress and activate the frontal cortex where higher ordered thinking occurs.
Some spiritual research explains that our subconscious minds are filled with many thought centers that have formed over the years. Most of these are the result of trauma and negative experiences that now cause us stress. These thought center are driving our behavior and mood when we are not consciously aware of them.
When you chant, you create a new thought center in the mind that is associated with the Divine. This creates positive feelings and when repeated for a time, will over-write or block the old negative ones.
Don’t take my word for it or any research for that matter. Just give it a chance and see what happens in your life.
I can tell you it has changed mine drastically.