We talk about mantras often, but what are they exactly? Simply put, mantras are phrases that are repeated over and over. In yoga it is believed that the vibration of the Hindu mantras will focus the mind, bringing about a meditative state, all with out even knowing the meaning behind the words you use. But of course it would be more powerful to understand what you are saying. Although traditionally a guru would give you a mantra, you will find benefits in finding a mantra that speaks to you. There are innumerable mantras you can use, but check the following to see if there is something that works for you. Choose a mantra that speaks to you at this time. Traditionally, the mantra may be repeated 108 times, using mala beads. Commit to a daily practice, using your mantra (Join our meditation challenge!).
Aum: Said in four sounds. The first is “aaa,” then “ohhhhhhhhhhhh,” “mmm,” and the forth is silence. Each Aum is said through an entire exhale. It is often spelled “OM”, but it is also explained as an acronym:
A – is the waking state
U – is the dream state
M – is the state of deep sleep
At the end of AUM is silence to represent Turiya, or Infinite Consciousness. Aum represents awake, dreaming, deep sleep, as well as conscious, unconscious and sub-conscious states.
Om Gam Ganapatayae Namaha (aum gahm gah-nah-paht-ah-yeh nah-mah-hah): This is the mantra for Ganesha, the elephant-headed God who protects and removes obstacles. This is a loose translation:
Om = Awaken
Gam = This is the “seed syllable” or bija mantra.
Ganapataye = Ganesh
Namaha = Great one
Om Namah Shivaya:
Calling upon Shiva, the destroyer deity, this mantra calls for healing of body and spirit through rebirth and renewal.
Om– See above
Namah– In adoration, homage to. Acknowledge that which is true.
Shivaya– Shiva (creative and energetic) and Shatki (grounded, static) are one. We are one, all from the same place.
Om Mani Padme Hum:
This is a mantra for cultivating love and compassion.
Om- See above
Mani- Jewel, symbolizing the method of great compassion and love.
Padme- Meaning lotus, symbolizes wisdom. “The lotus grows from the mud, not from marble.” The blossom of the lotus is through suffering and perseverance.
Hum- Pure union of mind, body, and soul
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (low-kaah’-ha suh-muh-staah’-ha soo-khee-no’ bhuh’-vun-too): May all beings be happy, pretty much. Or, love conquers all. This is a prayer for love and peace for all, promoting a sense of compassion and oneness with the world.
lokah: The universes in this moment
samastah: all beings
sukhino: happiness and joy, free from suffering
bhav: the divine state
antu: may it be so
Enjoy these mantras. Add more that you think would benefit someone!
Also see: How to Find Your Own Mantra
Photo: Christopher Michel via Flickr