In this article, we share some basic but fundamentally important things you can do to see immediate improvement in your chanting practice. The key to using this article is not to try to do everything all at once, or to try and make drastic improvements in every aspect of your lifestyle and chanting, because this might not be sustainable in the long run. Focus on one or two things to begin with and take baby steps. Small incremental improvements. which you can sustain, will take you a long way toward chanting better. So, with that said, let’s start!
No Multitasking – Our minds are always distracted and running here and there. As soon as we start to chant, it seems that there are suddenly a hundred things we can think of which require our attention. Allowing our chanting to get interrupted by these thoughts, and worse yet, trying to sneak in some other work while chanting is a very bad habit we must carefully guard against. No checking the phone for notifications, e-mails etc., no planning, no carrying out a conversation or driving etc. while chanting. There should be a minimum number of rounds we commit to chant without any interruptions whatsoever.
Consistency – For those who use japa mala (chanting beads) to meditate, it is better to chant fewer rounds consistently than to chant more one day and less on the other. Figure out a number that you can commit to and stick to it no matter what. If such steadiness is a challenge, it is the number one thing that you should work on and aim to develop. For those who are not using beads, fix a set time that you chant for daily, and gradually increase over time. It might be 5 minutes or 50 minutes! Set boundaries for your mind and then amaze yourself as your practice expands.
Early morning chanting – This tip is connected to the one above. Typically, as the day progresses, we get caught up more and more with things to do and think about. Getting ready for work, cooking breakfast, preparing the kids for school, deadlines, office politics, phone calls, e-mails, meetings, chores, friends, family all start to make demands on our time and attention. Thus, we can wake up really early in the morning, preferably a little earlier than sunrise (or if that’s too much, simply an hour or so before our day usually ‘begins’), and use the peace and quiet to focus on our chanting, it is extremely beneficial. It is in fact the best way to chant and do so free of distractions and interruptions. However, we do want to acknowledge that there are some night owls out there that operate better in the night time, the reverse is true. But for most of us, early to bed, early to rise – this will be a huge boost for our chanting meditation.
Accountability. This talk of going to bed early leads us to the concept of accountability and priorities. Going to bed on time – This is it! Really, do this one thing and it’s almost a guarantee that everything else will fall in place. Most issues arise when we are up too late. If you are in the former category, put hard limits on the time spent online. Another good idea is to find an accountability partner to help each other rise early and chant. On the other hand, if you find that you have actually so much to do almost everyday that you are working till late in the night, it might be wise to give yourself some fixed time to pause and chant. The truth is, even if your lifestyle doesn’t allow you to rise early and chant, at least some part of your day should be put aside for your spiritual practice.
Last, but most important. Are you convinced that chanting is important? Are you determined to improve your chanting? That you can and should be chanting better? Because if not, then all the other tips and tricks and techniques will not take you far. You might do them half-heartedly for some time but will eventually fall back to old rhythms and patterns of behavior. Read more about chanting, its benefits, its importance. And more importantly, find out your own ‘why’ for chanting.
At the end of the day, no matter what anyone else tells you, having your own deep inner conviction and reason to chant and improve the quality of your chanting is the way to truly make progress.