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Six things you might not know about chanting

Chanting has been practised for thousands of years by Hindus, Buddhists and Christians. It is said to have health benefits and today, practitioners suggest it can combat the stresses of modern life.

Here are six things we learned from Beyond Belief’s exploration of the power of chanting.

1. We could sing before we could speak

Before spoken language became the primary method of communication, our ancestors would convey information through song.

Our ancestors would convey information through song

The purpose behind this is still disputed, and while Charles Darwin claimed there was no purpose at all, several theories have since emerged…

2. Singing is sexy and has been for some time

One theory for our ancestors developing song is linked to the emotional impact it has in binding people together.

Group cohesion is important for survival, so song was likely a factor in guiding our ancestors in their social interaction – as well as helping them choose a partner from the opposite sex.

Our ancestors used song to survive

3. Crying is encouraged

Don’t worry if you get a bit teary whilst listening to chanting, as crying to show your happiness, sadness or appreciation is perfectly normal.

Crying is said to be the most frequently attested reaction to plainsong

In fact, crying is said to be the most frequently attested reaction to plainsong and it’s common in Buddhist chanting too.

4. Chanting can change the rhythm of your heart

Singing is fundamentally linked to breathing, and there is an internal entrainment between our heart-rates and our breathing patterns. If one alters, so does the other.

This means that when we sing with others, we not only synchronise our breathing but our hearts too!

5. It has no religious boundaries

The rhythms produced by our bodies are part of many belief systems.

Chanting is used for prayer, meditation and social enrichment within religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity.

6. Chanting can affect your health

Chanting can have an impact on your central nervous system, as well as providing an opportunity to express and relieve you of intense emotions.

Can chanting benefit your health?

Professor Michael Trimble explains how chanting can affect your health.

To find out more about the place and nature of faith in today's world, listen to Beyond Belief.

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