At Temple Emanu-El in Providence, Rhode Island, I have been co-leading a drumming and chanting service since 1996 or so. I have used chanting in this spiritual community, in groups that I lead as well as in individual therapy. It always has a salutary and often transformative impact upon the intra and interpersonal relational field.
If we want to draw upon science, there seems to be evidence that singing helps wake up and harmonize different areas of the brain. When we are singing, or chanting, it is hard to be depressed or anxious.
I have developed a kind of protocol that makes use of chanting to accomplish a number of ends. It is a great tool for becoming more grounded. When we chant to and even from various kinds of inner challenge, our relationship with that inner challenge begins to change, soften, become more alive and wholesome. When we chant to and from one another, the relational field becomes more awake and sweet. When we direct our chanting to different dimensions of the relational field, those dimensions light up and contribute to a relational context that is fat and juicy and alive.
Prayer is, so often, a neck up experience and so often misunderstood. Prayer is, most basically, a conversation with that which some people call God, some, an “Intelligence greater than our own”, others, Source, Spirit or Tao. Because we are, ongoingly, a byproduct of what I sometimes speak of as (an) evolutionary Intelligence, and therefore are never separate from God, Source, Tao…., all that is needed to enter into a conversation with the Source of ourselves is to turn towards (in the jewish tradition, teshuvah), remember, or be awake to what is true. As we turn, awake to the truth of this situation (our situated-ness within the field of Spirit and of Spirit), lies the possibility for a conversation.
Our ego, this ephemeral “I” born amidst the sea of Consciousness, is the byproduct of an evolutionary development of the higher cortical brain. It’s true and highest purpose, is to act as the butler to existence, to remember that everything that arises is a flower in God’s garden and treat all that arises accordingly. When we treat all that arises in this manner, then we become who we have been given to be….that essential ingredient for transforming our world into Eden! This is the proper function of the ego. And, this is the essence of prayer.
When mind and body are more or less in harmony, individual and group prayer becomes a radically different and often transformative experience. A dimension of the work my clients and I do, sometimes veers into this prayerful domain. For those of my clients for whom this is an important aspect of their wholeness work, much of our healing work dwells implicitly and sometimes explicitly within this sweet prayerful domain.