As spiritual practice goes, chanting is a relatively easy option. It can be challenging to quiet your mind and release stray thoughts during silent meditation. It can be difficult to bring a sense of mindfulness to every moment, especially the difficult ones. With chanting, however, all you really need to do is say the words. Out loud, regularly and consistently. After a while, you’ll even find that those meditation and mindfulness skills start to come naturally! You just need to start with nam myoho renge kyo.
People often ask what they should think about while chanting, and there is no right or wrong answer to that. The power of the words alone will be invoked no matter what you’re thinking about as you’re chanting.
However, there are several ways you can consciously direct your thoughts and intentions to get the best out of your chanting, or to complement any other spiritual or self-help practice.
1. Think About What You’re Saying
The words nam myoho renge kyo are rich with symbolic meaning. The most direct translation is “I devote myself to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra”, but the interpretation I prefer to invoke is something more like “I align myself with the natural law of the universe“.
That natural law is commonly referred to as the Law of Attraction, and basically means that the energy you put out to the universe will be returned back to you. If you have a positive attitude, you will see positive outcomes in your life, and vice versa. Through this chanting practice, the energy and attitude you emit is enhanced even further, and best of all, the practice itself can have the effect of raising your energetic frequency so that you tend more towards positive thoughts and intentions than you might have before.
So, when I’m chanting, I like to focus on the words I’m saying, and the meaning behind them – consciously putting out the intention to simply connect with that natural energy of the universe.
2. Think About What You Want
Many Nichiren Buddhists often hail chanting nam myoho renge kyo as a practice that can literally provide you with whatever your heart desires – whether it’s finding love, or a more fulfilling job, or even something as simple and material as getting that swanky new car!
Of course, if you immerse yourself deeply in your spiritual journey, you will come to realise that material wealth and possessions aren’t actually the be-all-end-all. You may find your focus of desire shifting from physical and material wealth to spiritual and emotional well-being. BUT that’s a leg of the spiritual journey which may still lie ahead on your own personal road, so in the meantime, there’s nothing stopping from you from chanting for that new car 😉
To do this, start by thinking about whatever it is you want. Imagine yourself already there, picture it, summon up the feeling you will have when it comes to pass – that feeling of happiness, success, achievement, enjoyment. Then start chanting nam myoho renge kyo, taking that as-if-it-has-already-happened feeling with you as you start reciting the words. The energy of emotion is much more powerful than just the I-want-that thought, and so your alignment with the Law of Attraction will be enhanced by chanting from that feeling-place.
3. Think About What You Already Have
No matter what you may wish for in your life, if you stop and look around, you will find that you are already surrounded by an abundance of blessings. Chances are you have a roof over your head, a comfortable bed, food to eat, clean water to drink. You may have friends and family who love you to the moon and back, or a pet who brings unconditional joy into your life. You probably have access to a place of natural beauty like a park, a mountain, or a river or seafront. You might have something simple like a painting on your wall that you enjoy gazing at, an old favourite book to comfort-read again and again, or even a TV that you appreciate relaxing in front of at the end of the day.
If, as I suggested above, emotion is more powerful than thought alone, there is no emotion more powerful than gratitude. Taking a moment to really think about, acknowledge, and appreciate all those things that you are already lucky to have in your life serves to open the floodgates to bring more of whatever-makes-you-grateful into your life. Chant nam myoho renge kyo with gratitude, for what you have, and for all the great unknown blessings that are still to come.
4. Think About Someone Else
I believe that we are all connected by the same field of energy, and it stands to reason that if you consciously direct your thoughts, emotions and the energy of your practice to someone else, that the energy you emit can and will reach that person through that all-encompassing field. So, one of the best ways to practice is to focus on someone else. This can be someone you love who may be suffering and you want to send them positive or healing energy. Or it can also be someone you’re struggling with in your life, maybe someone you don’t get along with or even like. Chanting for people like this can be hugely rewarding as you can use this practice and method to release yourself from any negative emotions the person might bring up in you, like anger, hurt, or frustration. Those feelings only deplete your own energy and happiness, so chanting for them, or even just to improve your relationship with them, can really help to see the problem or person in a different light. Paradoxically, sending out warm wishes to those who have hurt or wronged you actually raises your spirit.
My method of directing energy to someone else starts by basically visualising them happy. Picture them in your mind’s eye, happy, relaxed, and carefree. If you have shared good times together in the past, cast your memory back to that, and recall their smiles and laughter. Summon up the love you feel for them through that positive memory of their happiness. If it’s a person you’re struggling with, try to summon up compassion for whatever they’ve had to deal with in life that may have led to how they treat you now.
Then, as you start chanting nam myoho renge kyo, send that love. Send that compassion. Send positive energy like a beam of light. Imagine that light enveloping and protecting them. Picture their smile growing even bigger and wider. This can be an amazing way of directing your daily practice and raising your own vibration by cultivating a desire for happiness for everyone.
5. Think About Being Happy
This method works best for me when I’m in one of those low moods. Tired, drained, grumpy, sad, just not feeling it. When it’s too much of a challenge to muster up the energy to consciously direct your thoughts any other way, simply ask for happiness. Chant nam myoho renge kyo for yourself, ask the universe to help you find your smile again.
When doing that, I find that, even though your mood might not miraculously flip to joy in that moment, you still get a sense of satisfaction from having taken action towards finding your happy-place again. Plus, more often than not, the day will then find a way of turning itself around. Ask for happiness, chant for happiness, and then keep an eye on what’s going on around you – chances are the universe will send you a little hug in some form to cheer you up.
How else do you like to focus your thoughts during your spiritual or self-help practice? Let me know in the comments!