How is it possible to chant while performing daily activities like working in the office or talking?
When we begin to chant it seems to us that we really have to struggle to concentrate on repeating the Name of God. In many cases, in the initial stages we have to stop what we are doing and deliberately chant while holding a mala (a string of beads). At this point it would seem unimaginable if someone told us that it is possible to chant while performing all activities in the day, including while having a conversation. Our concentration would seem uni-dimensional when it comes to chanting and we would have to choose between chanting and performing our daily activities.
However the fact is that when we grow spiritually, our chanting does become more subtle and more qualitative. By becoming more subtle, we mean that it happens at a deeper level in our consciousness. At higher levels in the practice of chanting, we are also able to chant when doing physical and mental daily activities. Let us see how this can happen.
Each one of us can focus one’s attention on eight things simultaneously. These eight points of concentration are through the five sense organs (ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose which are referred to as the external sense organs), the conscious mind, the sub-conscious mind (chitta) and the intellect (these three are the internal sense organs). The organs perform their respective functions. In our daily life, we do many complex activities simultaneously involving these eight points of concentration. Imagine a person crossing the road. When he is in the act of crossing the road, he is able to simultaneously watch out for the traffic lights, hear any vehicles, smell the surroundings, feel if it is hot or cold, indulge in conversation with a friend or colleague, etc. In addition, he also thinks about various things and takes decisions like how fast he should walk, in which direction he should go and if he will reach on time, etc. In this way, every individual possesses the eight-fold concentration in the subconscious mind.
When we begin to chant, the act of chanting is limited only to the conscious mind. At this stage, we find it very difficult to multi-task while chanting. When we deepen our spiritual practice of chanting, we create a new impression of chanting in our sub-conscious mind. This impression develops into a centre also known as the devotion centre. As the devotion centre develops in our subconscious mind it begins to radiate thoughts about chanting.
When the devotion centre covers over 50% of the sub-conscious mind, chanting of the Name of God happens at a subconscious level, even during daily activities. This generally happens at the 50% spiritual level.
So if we go back to our previous understanding that there can be eight-fold concentration, we can be performing many tasks with all the other sense organs, while the sub-conscious mind is chanting. Therefore even while our mouth and intellect are engaged in conversation, the sub-conscious mind is chanting although this may not be physically apparent to an outsider. To the person chanting at this stage there is a gentle remembrance of God in everything he does.
This stage of chanting can only happen if we chant regularly for some time. How soon we can achieve this stage will depend on:
- Our desire to progress spiritually,
- The quantity as well as quality of chanting and
- Whether we have supplemented chanting with other aspects of spiritual practice like:
- Being in company of seekers (satsang) or
- Doing some service to God like working for spread of spirituality (satseva)