Over the past year, we've been hosting a beautiful, monthly Chanting Meditation evening with Kendell Romanelli & Ashley O'Hara here at the boutique. Chanting was a new experience for me (This is Una staffer Anne), and I really learned a lot about the health benefits of meditation & community singing.
When we chant, what actually are we chanting? It depends, but usually it is a mantra made up of Sanskrit words that uplift the names of Hindu gods & goddesses. While Kendell & Ashley give some context as to who they are and what their story is, the beauty of chanting these mantras is that we don't have to be "followers" of any particular religion or spirituality to appreciate the energy inherent in the sounds of these names. For example, we might sing a chant to the goddess Lakshmi, and simply be meditating on what she represents: harmony, peace, & abundance.
Just allowing yourself to meditate on these ideas is medicine on its own, as plenty of studies on meditation have shown. But, things get really interesting when we dig into what actually happens on a physical level when you sing these words, especially in community with others.
-Chanting is GREAT brain exercise! The practice of learning to say unfamiliar words, and to remember a pattern & melody, is a vigorous workout for the brain. (We've dubbed it Brain Flossing :-) )
-Forming different sounds stimulates different body parts, like our nasal passages, lips, & vocal chords. This stimulation affects our pituitary gland, which in turn regulates our hormonal system. Our immune systems get a positive boost when our hormones are in balance.
-Studies have shown that chanting meditation affects the limbic system, the part of our brains that controls stress & emotion, among other things. Chanting, quite simply, relaxes the brain & increases the flow of calming hormones throughout the system.
-The energy that is created when singing with others is powerful! It creates a sense of connectedness, community, and compassion--all feelings that again increase one's overall sense of well-being.
Interested in learning more? There are plenty of places around Pittsburgh to give Chanting Meditation a try, like BYS Yoga, Mookshi Wellness Center, or the Krishna Kirtan Center. Chanting Meditation at Una will resume in January, so please check back on our Upcoming Events page to see when our next workshop will be!