1. Chanting as a therapy in psychiatric illnesses
Chanting is beneficial in a majority of psychiatric illnesses. Chanting God’s Name is perhaps one of the most effective therapies in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder.
2. Subconscious mind gets purified through chanting
The radiant energy from the Name destroys the impressions in the subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind gets purified through chanting as follows.
2.1 Developing a liking for chanting and purification of the sub-conscious mind
According to psychology, chanting God’s Name and that of a worldly object are quite similar. When a mother utters or hears her child’s name, several emotions arise in her subconscious mind. These could be motherly affection, happiness, worry, aspirations, etc. This is because all emotions associated with the name of the object, that is the child, coexist. The memory of or hearing that name constantly activates the emotions. This is spontaneous and is a powerful driving force in a mother’s life. Sometimes due to this very force a mother is prepared to sacrifice everything for her child.
The psychological response in chanting God’s Name is the same. When we chant His Name, we have some emotion or image about God, consciously or unconsciously. We also have some notion about God’s qualities. We know from discussions that we benefit from God’s grace and that chanting His Name is the tool to acquire it. Therefore the spiritual emotion (bhāv) that we are chanting the Name of God who has distinguished qualities, accompanies the Name. Due to this spiritual emotion, emotions such as respect, love and devotion for God, fear of wrong actions etc. go on increasing progressively, while undesirable emotions on the other hand keep diminishing. Thus gradually the subconscious mind gets purified.
2.2 Reduction of impressions
When chanting is going on, the conscious mind does not accept the impulses coming from the centres of the subconscious mind, like the desire and instinct centre, the like and dislike centre, the temperamental characteristics and the intellect centre. When this continues for long, gradually the impressions in these centres start decreasing and one experiences a calm state of mind.
2.3 New impressions do not develop
While chanting is happening, new impressions about other things do not develop in the subconscious mind. Chanting God’s Name is perhaps the best way in a conscious state to prevent new impressions from developing in the subconscious mind. [In the states of concentration, meditation and samādhi (a super-conscious state of union with the Absolute God Principle) too, impressions about other things do not get created on the subconscious mind.]
2.4 Elimination of desires by chanting
With chanting, the mind is less distracted by the attractions from outside. When this straying of the mind reduces, the desires and body awareness which attract us to the Great Illusion (Māyā) automatically lose strength and we are able to get engrossed in chanting. Instead of satisfying desires, the mind gets absorbed in chanting. Thus, the desires reduce and eventually remain no more. Since desires are subtle in nature they require subtle-means (God’s Name) to reduce them. When desires reduce or are no longer there, we can remain in Bliss (Ānand), which gives internal satisfaction that is far greater than satisfying any of the desires that arise from the mind.
3. Chanting increases introversion and introspection
Introversion and introspection are both necessary to imbibe positive qualities within ourselves. Both these qualities start developing through the process of chanting.
Chanting in the true sense commences only when we try to focus on becoming introverted. If we wish to observe whether chanting is going on in the mind, we need to focus inward, i.e. be spiritually introverted.
The mind wanders and focuses on external stimuli due to its inherent nature and hence is not focused on chanting for long. Once we realise this, we should try to bring the mind back to chanting. In this process, we become aware of the thoughts or personality defects, which had prompted the mind to wander. This is introspection.
4. Chanting increases concentration
As the subconscious mind gets purified due to chanting, the impulses coming to the conscious mind from the subconscious also reduce and concentration increases. This way, any activity we do is done in a more calm, concentrated and perfect manner, leading to a more successful life and spiritual progress.
5. Chanting purifies speech
When we are engaged in worldly talk throughout the day, we reinforce impressions about the Great Illusion in our subconscious mind and make the mind impure. Since chanting purifies our subconscious mind with its Divine energy, this brings about a purification of our speech too.
6. Benefits of chanting similar to those obtained from silence
Chanting God’s Name is a type of silence (moun). Therefore the following psychological benefits of silence also occur with chanting.
A. Reduction in worldly problems: Most worldly problems arise from our speech. With practice of silence they are naturally averted.
B. We can avoid speaking lies.
C. Control over the six internal foes: The six internal foes are basic defects that bind us to the material world and are responsible for our unhappiness. They are passion, anger, pride, envy, greed and attachment. When emotions like anger etc. are not expressed, we gradually gain control over them due to chanting.
7. Summary – benefits of chanting
In today’s stressful environment, chanting leads to a stress-free life which in turn leads to higher productivity, ability to assist others in a calm manner, increase in loving nature, decrease in selfishness and spiritual growth.