This is about using chanting to build concentration power.
The objective is to direct our mind to focus on a chant.
Usually a mantra or a short phrase that does not immediately invoke negative mental state. Therefore choosing a mantra that goes “money, money, money” or ” sex,sex,sex” is not really advisable for the majority of us.
Since we are aiming for enlightenment, mantra that invokes a mental positioning towards that goal becomes more suitable. For example, the word “Buddho”, or the name of a specific Buddha or bodhisattva, or a mantra that relates to a Buddha, bodhisattva or sutra.
When we chant for concentration, we have to stop all cursive thoughts and just focus on our chanting. If we like a particular Buddha or Bodhisattva, we can chant a short refuge phrase such as Namo Amitabha Buddha or Namo Avalokitesvara. By taking refuge in our favourite deities, we are positioning our mind to let go. We have strong faith that our worldly affairs will be taken care of. We position our mind to let go and stop cursive thoughts. Just focus on the chant. That is developing concentration power through faith.
If we find our mind thinking of the past or imagining a future, we need to stop those thoughts and direct our mental focus on the chant. Stop all cursive thoughts.
If we use a mantra like “Om Mani Padme Hum”, we also stop all cursive thoughts and just focus.
When we verbalize our chant, it is advisable to chant with mindfulness. Our mind should be focus on the mantra.
When we chant with a rhythms or a tune. It becomes singing. For some people it helps to focus their mind. However, if it becomes a distraction, then it is advisable to stop the rhythms and tune. Just focus on a monotonous repetition. “Pull” the awareness in and do not be distracted. Get real intimate with our mind. Be very mindful that nothing else is running in the background of our mind. Just the chant.
The mind focus on thinking the mantra. The mouth says the mantra. The ear listen to the verbalize mantra. Full concentration.
There should not be any wishing or praying too. Some buddhist wrongly mistaken that the purpose of chanting is to make their wish come true. That is not a noble objective and thus not encourages. If we use chanting as a way for praying, the focus turns into a pursuit of mundane happiness.
Chanting under your breath
When we chant aloud and fast. It sometimes cause our thoughts to run wild. When we notice that, we can slow down our tempo. Chant our mantra slowly and mindfully. In addition, we can also chant softly. Almost inaudible. That way, our chant borders on a meditation quality. The energy expensed by the body reduces suddenly and the mind is forced to “settle” This are “tricks” meant to help the mind focus. Do not be distracted by these tricks too. It’s just meant as a tools to help rein in the mind. Right effort is needed to bring our mind to focus. These tips is not a magic or secret method. So don’t get distracted by the tips too.
Marking your chant with percussion instruments and counts
When we first start to chant, it may be extremely difficult to concentrate. Another trick to help us along this objective is to make use of musical instruments such as a Tingshak
(usually rung on the last syllabus of the mantra)
or 引罄 (YinQing)
We mark alternate syllabus of a mantra by ringing this handheld bell.
If you can’t buy this, no one will stop you from using a deskbell too.
The idea is to trick the mind into focusing.
another popular buddhist chant instrument is the wooden fish
We may hit the wooden fish on every syllabus or every alternate syllabus.
You may stop playing with the musical instruments anytime and just chant without the instruments. Again, be careful not to let this “tricks” become a distraction themselve.
To increase the difficulty level, some practitioners may sound the instruments after reciting a specific number of counts. Example, once every 3 chant or 7 chant etc. Objective is to trick the mind into focusing.
Hope you enjoy reading and have fun in your next formal chanting session. Objective is to focus on the mantra until everything else “dropoff”
May all be well and happy.