Mantra meditation is the basis of arguably the most well-known form of meditation in the West, Transcendental Meditation (TM). Mantra comes from ancient Sanskrit and can be literally translated as 'instrument of thought.'
The most basic mantra is Om (Aum), which in Hinduism is known to be the source of all mantras.
Om is believed to be the primordial or the 'first' sound of the universe generated by the cosmic vibration that resulted in all creation (think Big Bang). The Bible also says...the beginning came from the word.
Just like our thoughts, words are a form of energy, which is quite evident in their palpable frequency and vibrations. Words carry within them the seeds of creation and are a powerful force for bringing into existence that which only exists in the ethereal plane.Just like our thoughts, words are a form of energy, which is quite evident in their palpable frequency and vibrations. Words carry within them the seeds of creation and are a powerful force for bringing into existence that which only exists in the ethereal plane.
Mantra means a sound. Today, modern science sees the whole existence as a vibration. Where there is a vibration, there is bound to be a sound. So that means, the whole existence is a kind of sound, or a complex amalgamation of sounds – the whole existence is an amalgamation of multiple mantras. Of these, a few mantras or a few sounds have been identified, which could be like keys. If you use them in a certain way, they become a key to open up a different dimension of life and experience within you.
Some mantra meditation teachers insist that both the choice of word, and its correct pronunciation, is very important, due to the “vibration” associated to the sound and meaning, and that for this reason an initiation into it is essential. Others say that the mantra itself is only a tool to focus the mind, and the chosen word is completely irrelevant.
So a mantra is not something that you utter. It is something that you strive to become because unless you become the key, existence will not open up for you. Becoming the mantra means you are becoming the key. Only if you are the key can you open the lock. Otherwise someone else has to open it for you and you have to listen to him.
Mantras could be an extremely good preparatory step. Just one mantra can do such tremendous things to people. They can be an effective force in creating something but only if they come from that kind of a source where there is a complete understanding of all that is sound. When we say “all that is sound,” we are talking about the creation itself. If a mantra comes from that kind of source, with that level of understanding and when the transmission is pure, then mantras can be an effective force.
As most type of meditations, it is usually practiced sitting with spine erect, and eyes closed. The practitioner then repeats the mantra in his mind, silently, over and over again during the whole session.
Sometimes this practice is coupled with being aware of the breathing or coordinating with it. In other exercises, the mantra meditation is actually whispered very lightly and softly, as an aid to concentration.
As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. As you meditate, the mantra becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct, until you’re finally led into the field of pure consciousness from which the vibration arose.
Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts. The mantra is a tool to support your meditation practice. Mantras can be viewed as ancient power words with subtle intentions that help us connect to spirit, the source of everything in the universe. (Deepak Chopra)
Sound & Vibrations.
Many of the spiritual traditions say that the universe began with a word, or sound from God.
Mantras are a way of introducing and focusing this vibration, or sound, in ourselves.
Sound is a form of vibration. In fact everything in the universe vibrates at a certain frequency.
Thus, by repeating a mantra we introduce the vibrational frequency of that mantra into ourselves, so that we too begin to resonate with the words and vibration of the mantra.
By saying a mantra you are literally tuning yourself to resonate at the same vibrational frequency as God, or the specific deity associated with that mantra, or the healing power or intention of that mantra.
Eventually, as you come to resonate at the same frequency as the mantra, the mantra gains its own momentum. At that point, as they say in Sufism, "you stop doing the mantra, and the mantra starts doing you".
There are numerous tales of mantra practitioners who were so at one with their mantra that if they cut themselves their spilled blood would spell the words of their mantra.
Whether or not this is true the message is clear, mantras become a part of us and have the potential to effect us on a very deep and transformation level.
Energy fields & Archetypes
One theory is that mantras meditation allow us to connect to archetypal energies which have been strengthened over thousands of years by the continual repetitions of practitioners. By saying a mantra you are connecting to the energy field of all those that have also used that mantra before you.
Accordingly, different energy fields will have varying characteristics that reflect the nature of that mantra, so it can be important to align yourself with a mantra that is suitable to your needs, whether for spiritual or healing purposes
Many mantras are said to have healing properties. By connecting to the mantra on an energetic level it may be possible to reprogram the affected or diseased area and allow healing to occur.
Similarly, the influence of mantra on the mind-body connection can also influence healing by creating a biofeedback loop that replaces unpleasant sensation with love and positivity. The subsequent reduction in stress and anxiety can have innumerable physical benefits.
Mantras may also tap into universal energetic healing archetypes. When saying a healing mantra you are accessing energy fields far greater than yourself, with huge potential for healing.
Thoughts & Emotions
Most of us have experienced being caught up in a repetitive pattern of thoughts.
When these thoughts are negative or angry this can be particularly unpleasant and often damaging.
By replacing these type of thoughts with a mantra we not only break the habitual negative flow, we also create and reinforce a new flow that is both beneficial and positive.
It's not necessary to investigate the old thoughts, simply replace them with a mantra.
Recent scientific studies into the neuroplasticity of the brain support this. These studies show that neural pathways are either strengthened by repetition, or weakened by lack of use. By replacing negative thoughts with a mantra you are literally rewiring your brain whilst simultaneously weakening habitual thinking.
Similarly, when stuck in a downward emotional spiral a mantra can not only break the habitual emotional pattern, but also replace it with the positive emotion that you normally associate with the mantra.
Mantras are purifying. By using a mantra we can connect and vibrate with a more pure or higher level of consciousness, which is usually a chosen deity or God. The connection with this higher vibrational frequency then helps to purify the body and mind.
In Hinduism they have the concept of Sanskaras, which are impressions derived from past experiences, which form desires that influence our responses and behavior. Or in other words, our deep seated conditioned responses and tendencies. These can be altered and erased by the continual contact with the mantras energy.
Chakras are energetic centers in the body. Some mantras are specific for chakras, and aim to cleanse, open and purify these chakras so our spiritual energies will flow more smoothly and without obstruction.
What mantras are not.
Mantras are not affirmations. Affirmations work on the psychological and emotional level. Although affirmations can be very useful they should not be confused with mantras, which work at a deeper vibrational and spiritual level, and as such are fundamentally different to affirmations.
Mantras are not prayers, in the sense of using your own words to ask for something specific. For example, with a healing mantra you establish in yourself the specific intention to be healed, and then connect with the power of the mantra with that intention, and say only the mantra, and do not use your own words as you would in individualized prayer.
Tips to remember
Mantras are the ultimate mobile device, you can use them anytime and anywhere.
Whether in the car, at work, with friends or on your own, if you say your mantra internally it can always be with you.
Using a mantra is like any other form of meditation. When you realize that your thoughts have wandered just simply refocus, and return to your mantra.
Experiment with your mantra in different situations. If you are angry, you can try saying your mantra louder and at a faster pace, to drown out your angry thoughts. Or if you are in a quiet place and are feeling calm, try whispering the mantra and using it to lead you into silence.