The exact historical date of mantra chanting is hard to determine, although it is said to be Vedic in origin. The early yoga-rishis (seers) realized that certain sounds brought them joy, enlightened them, gave them freedom from fear and suffering and brought profound tranquility and even psychic powers.
Even modern neuroscience has discovered the relationship between the mental functioning of the mind and the way words are used to affect behaviour and belief systems.
Should I use different mantras or stick with one?
Each mantra produces a different vibrational effect on the mind. A mantra can be used to help strengthen an intention. So repeating a mantra of intention could be more effective if chanted regularly. Some mantras don’t always have a particular meaning. They simply have a vibrational effect similar to the sounds of the universe, if you listen closely enough. A mantra is what helps us disconnect from the mind stuff that gets in the way and bring about bigger gaps between the thoughts. Learn a few. You will soon discover what you need when. Practice with integrity is the key as always with anything new.
What if I cannot pronounce the mantra?
Some schools of thought do believe that correct pronunciation is essential but at a simple level of intelligence the distraction of trying to obtain the correct pronunciation can upset the meditation process. Relax into what sounds good for you. Pronunciation will come later.
How do I use a mantra?
Establish a comfortable seated position. Take a few moments to settle and establish a regular breathing pattern. Quiet your mind and let go of any distractions by bringing the mantra to mind. Some people use mala beads to repeat their mantra. The mala rests on the hand and on each repetition of the mantra a bead is slipped through the thumb and middle finger. You begin with the first bead after the ‘guru’ bead and reverse the process when you have passed through the 108 beads. Don’t pass over the guru bead and never use the index finger for resting the mala beads on as this represents the ego. You want to avoid getting the ego involved.
Alternatively you can count your repetitions using the fingers. When you have passed from the thumb to the little finger, repeat the mantra from the little finger to the thumb. This represents ten chants. Once you have completed one set of ten you can use the opposite hand as a ‘ten’ counter by folding over the fingers accordingly. Eg Thumb folds for ten, index finger for twenty, middle finger 30 etc.
What mantra should I use?
Quiet your mind and use a word that brings positive vibes to your mind. It may come to you instantly. Try to steer away from words with negative connotations. Flip them around to positivity. It does not need to be complicated so if words such as peace, love or happiness resonate with you, go with one of those. Choose what comes to mind easily and naturally. Each day may bring about something different, that’s ok. That will be what you need to hear.
If you do wish to focus on a Sanskrit mantra the most common and sacred one is Om (Aum). This can be incredibly soothing, especially if you start the practice with verbally making the sound and then dropping into a silent practice. Om is for those who seek to understand and experience the underlying absolute reality of life.
“I am” can be a powerful manifesting mantra. There is no need to add anything to this. Just acknowledge your existence. Some people do find it helpful though to add a positive suggestive affirmation eg I am successful, I am happy.
The Sanskrit equivalent So Hum translates as ‘I am that’. It is said to be a universal mantra as the sounds are naturally made as part of the breath. Sooo, being the sound produced on inhalation and hummm the sound of exhalation. This can be very relaxing and calming to the anxious mind.
The Gayatri Mantra is a popular ancient mantra of physical, emotional and mental healing. It is said to purify the karma and provide protection from life’s obstacles. Self-realisation and spiritual awakening become possible.
The Gayatri Mantra:
Aum, bhur, bhuva Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Naka Prachodayat
On the absolute reality and all its planes,
On the finest spiritual light,
We meditate, as remover of obstacles
That may inspire and enlighten us.
Om Mani Padme Hum is from Tibet and is roughly translated as “praise be to the jewel in the lotus”.
A mantra commonly chanted in the Jivamukti tradition is Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhav Antu
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all”
The kirtin kriya often referred to as Sa Ta Na Ma, is used as a kundalini meditation mantra for evolutionary change.
Sa= represents the beginning or how it will be, infinity
Ta = life, existence and creativity
Na = death, change and transformation
Ma = regeneration, rebirth, resurrection, what happens next
SaTaNaMa is said to access the parts of the mind where habits and addictions are created. So behavioural patterns may be influenced as the mantra accesses the subconscious mind at its most basic level.
Modern mantras could be:
"Every day in every way I’m getting better and better" – Laura Silva
"I change my thoughts, I change my world" – Norman Vincent Peale
"Today is going to be awesome"
"I am responsible for how I feel, today I am happy"
"I am confident and empowered"
"I am calm and content"
….. the options are endless…..
Om shanti, shanti, shanti