Chanting (jap) is the incessant repetition of a syllable or a specific set of words known as mantra in Sanskrit. Each word is built on tones and has its own sound vibration. In chanting, the repetition of words is not the objective, though most of the religious people think it is. When a word is spoken, sung or whispered, it affects the listener. Sound is a form of energy. Try this: Place your index and middle finger on your neck. Say “ah” as loud as you can. Then say it softly. What you will feel through your fingers is the movement inside your throat. Your vocal chords vibrate when you make a sound. As they vibrate, they make the sound.
In Chanting Meditation, we use a word or a set of words which at first are chanted aloud and then gently as we move deeper and deeper into silence and allow the mantra to resonate on its own. But the purpose of chanting is not to become a living tape, but to move from words to silence, to wordlessness. This progress from words to silence results in calmness and peace that make us transcend the time zone. Chanting is also used to for invocation of deities in Tantra, and in the path of devotion. For the Vedanta student, chanting is done to progress from mind to no-mind.
Anandmurti Gurumaa has given various methods of chanting which are available in pre-recorded tapes and CDs. They guide the students into the nuances of chanting.