The world of mantras may be fairly new to you, and we want to offer you an example of mantras or two to help you know them better.
A mantra has come a long way since its original definition and purpose. Mantras have been around for years, and yet, it seems like we are only still beginning to understand their true powers.
The Sanskrit word ‘mantra' means ‘a powerful tool of the mind'. They began as a way to document ancient rituals and rites in Hinduism.
Mantras played a key role in Vedic traditions, as well as in Buddhist and other ancient cultures.
However, let's dive a bit deeper into what mantras are, beyond religion, and its use in the current culture.
A quick guide
At its core, a mantra is a purposeful composition of sounds. Like every other sound in the universe, the sounds of a mantra are accompanied by their related vibration. These are vibrations that we can often sense within our bodies as well as around us, in our environment.
For instance, try chanting the sound ‘mmmm' and observe where you feel the vibration of that sound within your body. You will notice that the sound creates a strong vibration inside our head.
This vibration in a specific area of the body touches and activates our cells and systems in the vicinity. That's how sound is connected to activation.
This concept is the foundational principle on which all mantras work.
Even beyond its physical vibrational effect, a mantra has the unique ability to soothe the mind.
Within the first few moments of chanting or practicing mantra meditation, you will notice your mind latching on to the sound, while completely detaching from any ongoing thoughts.
This means that the momentum of all those thoughts, beliefs, and responses is paused – and there is room for a new stream of thoughts.
This is how mantras help us heal our emotions and gain mastery over our peace of mind.
These are powers possessed by some of the oldest mantras known to man. Broadly, the three most common examples of mantra types are:
Sanskrit Vedic mantras are some of the oldest known types of mantras, with the oldest one being from over 3500 years ago.
These ancient chants are known to harness our inner strengths, gaining mastery over our emotional well-being, and explore our potential for spiritual enlightenment.
Even though many of these Vedic mantras are written in praise and prayer towards specific gods and goddesses in Hindu mythology, the underlying symbolism and the powerful sounds can offer us immense strength, healing, and peace.
A popular example of Sanskrit Vedic mantras is the Shiva chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya.' The mantra is used for both chanting and meditation and has the potential to sharpen the abilities of our mind, eg. focus, memory, visualization, etc.
Buddhist mantras are some of the oldest, most intense, and yet most enlightening chants of the world.
They carry the gentle wisdom of Buddhist teachings and bring healing and peace to the lives of those who chant as well as those who meditate.
The beauty of Buddhist chants is that they are often short, but contain tremendous potential for spiritual transformation in the fewest of syllables. Chanting and mantra meditation is an important part of the zen, minimalist way of life prescribes in the Buddhist culture.
What's fascinating is that there are mantras dedicated to different ‘forms' or ‘aspects' of the Buddha-like the Medicine Buddha or the Buddha of Compassion.
These chants are practiced with a lot of focus and devotion and are often loved and adopted by people for life.
One of the most widely practiced Buddhist mantras is ‘Om Mani Padme Hum.' This mantra is practiced to cultivate and attract love, compassion, and healing in one's life. It is also often used for visualization-based meditation.
Transcendental mantras are a unique type of mantras used for transcendental meditation. This is a practice in which one must sit still and focus on the repetition of a particular activation sound.
Transcendental mantras do not usually have a literal meaning, and all their power is derived from their sound. While there are several common transcendental mantras, the right mantra is always chosen by a Guru or a teacher of transcendental meditation.
For instance, the sound ‘Aing' is practiced as a transcendental mantra to attract wisdom and prosperity, while trying to reach a state of heightened consciousness.
To summarize, although mantras may have different languages and cultural origins, they share common powers.
We hope that you feel inspired to try out a simple mantra for yourself, either by chanting it along or by meditating on the mantra.