The Tiger's Mouth Blog: Reflections on Chanting during the Pandemic
Some of us in our Branch in London Ontario had been regularly chanting the Frequently-Used Chants once a week prior to the pandemic. The opportunity to participate in the Saturday morning Chanting For the World has provided a welcome replacement of this weekly activity on a global scale, which has been an amazing experience . This reflection, however, is an expression of my gratitude for a smaller group, led by those from the SouthWest Centre in Stratford, Ontario, who have provided the opportunity to continue to chant together on Sunday afternoons. Spending an hour or so chanting the Ten Thousand Buddhas Sutra together once a week, and having the time to practice this independently 3 or 4 additional times each week, has been transformative.
Relatively early on in this new aspect of my practice, I became acutely aware of tension I was apparently holding in my larynx, which was even painful at times. Trusting the Saturday morning advice to continue letting go and to chant confidently, with more regular practice, this tension is now much reduced. Who knew so much tension could be held in your throat? Concurrently, with greater relaxation, I’ve noticed that the front of my chest opens much more, and that feelings of greater circulation throughout my whole body now happen earlier during my Taoist Tai Chi® practice compared to a month ago. I am grateful for these new feelings.
Another change that I have noticed is that I have much less bronchospasm (airway constriction) than previously. I have ‘reactive lungs’ – that is, with poor quality air, like we have had for much of July here in Southwestern Ontario, my airways go into spasm and I experience wheezing, most noticeable to me when I’m trying to fall asleep. Through this past month, I’ve had virtually no wheezing, which is rare for me at this time of the year. I gratefully attribute these changes to the increased chanting practice and have a greater appreciation of the internal benefits of the art we practice (together, apart).