If you are one of those who Googled ‘whats a mantra', you might have an interesting, exciting, and fulfilling journey ahead of you.
We, at Mahakatha, are proud to introduce to you a world of mantras that are passed on for centuries.
After today, you will have a much better understanding of what's a mantra, and how you'd go about chanting it.
A quick guide
- 1 What Is a Mantra?
- 2 What Is Mantra Meditation?
- 3 Why do people use or chant a mantra?
- 4 How to do mantra meditation
- 5 4 Hindu Mantras that you can chant daily
- 6 Some Buddhist Mantras that you can chant daily
- 7 A Summary of How to Chant Mantras
A mantra is either a syllable, sound, word, or phrase that is repeated while practicing meditation or yoga. In more profound schools of thought, mantras are described as spiritual interpretations weaved in melodic phrases.
Mantras hold in them deep explanations of humanity like knowledge, truth, peace, and love. It also packs wisdom about the concepts of immortality and infinity.
What Is Mantra Meditation?
Meditation, also known as dhyana in Sanskrit, is done to train the mind to achieve higher awareness. Dhyana is made up of two Sanskrit words, dhi, and yana. Dhi means consciousness or a higher state of awareness. Yana means a vehicle.
So as per Vedic interpretation, meditation is a vehicle for the mind to understand deeper and profound truths of the Universe. The Universe represents the world outside of us, as well as the one within us.
Mantra meditation is a technique where the mind is trained with the powerful vibrations of a mantra. Each mantra is designed for a specific need and intention.
Chanting, reciting, whispering, or even thinking about the mantra transfers the energy of the vibration to your mind.
The mantra becomes the tool of focus for your brain. With repetition, the mantra expands in your mind and takes over. It leaves no room for any negative thoughts to wander.
Your mind becomes stronger and focuses only on your intention. This richness of thought makes your intention stronger. In turn, it uplifts your sense of awareness of yourself and your surroundings.
Many believe that mantras and mantra meditation have a religious inclination. While making our mantra meditation courses, we found out that the truth was something else.
Mantras are not limited to people of a specific faith. Now, mantras are popularly used even in secular mindfulness meditation practices.
People practice mantra meditation for varying reasons. The use of a mantra in meditation depends on the intention of the meditation itself. I know that it seems like a non-answer. Hear me out.
Nothing can move forward without having direction. This direction is established once a goal is set. While meditating, you train your mind.
Train for what, you might ask? That's where your intention comes in. Your intention decides what you want out of a meditation session.
Some simply want to stay focused and mentally equipped to be their best for their daily jobs. This intention can be manifested by your chosen mantra.
In Buddhism, spirituality is pursued with a non-theistic approach. Buddhism follows the teachings of the enlightened Buddha. In Buddhism, a mantra is used to extract the positive qualities within you by the practice of repetition and repetition.
In both Hinduism and Buddhism, the intentions could seem different. The effects and results of the practice can be documented and appreciated even by a secular observer.
Practicing mantra meditation can boost qualities like self-confidence, patience, mental and physical tolerance, etc. Mantra meditation can also be used to alleviate pain and heal certain physical disorders if the chosen mantra is designed for it.
Now knowing how mantras work, you may wonder how to start a mantra practice?
The first step to mantra meditation is to set an intention. This requires an honest talk with your own self. What do you want? What do you want to improve? What do you want to heal? Once you have the answer, make sure that you vocalize it.
If it helps, here's what I do. I like to talk to the universe out loud. I speak to it and tell the universe what my intentions are. It is my way of letting my subconscious know what I'll be working on next.
If you find my method weird, you can simply write it on a piece of paper or make a small note on your phone. The idea is to make your intentions real by vocalizing it. I guess that's what it means to ‘realize' something.
The next step is to pick the best mantras that suit your intention. And there are a plethora of mantras available for you for every intention.
Do you want to regain your health physically or mentally? Do you want to get rid of undesired distractions from your life? Do you want to create a deeper bond with your spiritual self? There are various mantras that will help you achieve that.
Some people experience that using a mantra while meditating helps them relax their chaotic mind. This, in turn, makes them positive and productive. It reduces stress and anxiety by lowering the heart rate.
Create a space for your meditation practice without external distractions. You will reach a meditative state quickly if you practice in a dimly lit and quiet area.
Bright lights and loud noises overstimulate your senses and disrupt the flow of thoughts. This takes your mind of the intention you set.
Once you find a good spot to meditate, sit down comfortably. It is important that your body also feels relaxed and comfortable. Now, remember your intention and vocalize it. Saying phrases like, “May this meditation session help me connect to my inner self” helps. Make sure that you emphasize your intention.
You can even keep totems that can help you focus on your meditation after your mind drifts off. This is technique is seen in some strict Buddhist practices, for instance, Shingon Buddhism. In Shingon Buddhism, an amulet is held while mantra recitation.
Sit upright and start focusing on your breath. In some Hindu mantras, for instance, the So Hum mantra, breathing is considered the root of meditation.
The So Hum mantra is considered the mantra of breathing in and out. Here, ‘So' represents the sound of breathing in and ‘Hum' represents the sound of breathing out.
Gently breathe in and out and focus on the flow of your breath. This will create a calm environment for the mind to start the meditative journey.
Once your mind is calmed down, start chanting your chosen mantra. Once you start chanting do not look back. Continue focusing on your breathing. Enjoy the sound of the mantra.
Be yourself. Focus on staying relaxed. Feel the vibrations during the mantra recitation travel through different areas of your body. You can chant the mantra for as long as you feel like. When you feel your mind wander, as it will naturally, focus again on the mantra. The mantra will bring you back to the meditative state.
The chanting phase of a mantra is about just being. You are in charge. You may ask, can I chant mantra silently? Or should I keep chanting it aloud? It does not matter. All that matters is that your mind is atoned to the sound of the mantra.
Hinduism is one of the oldest philosophies in humanity. Its scriptures are well-documented and known as Vedas. The Vedic texts are the oldest sources of the Hindu mantras we know today.
In Hinduism, mantra recitation is carried out for almost every ritual. Here are a few Hindu mantras that you can start off with for your meditation practice.
Om is one of the most popular mantras in Hinduism. The simple monosyllable mantra is made up of three universal sounds: A, U, M.
In Hinduism, Om is considered to be the sound of the universe. Chanting this mantra will help your mind relax and center itself.
Om Namah Shivaay is one of the most prolific Hindu mantras. The mantra is a salutation to Shiva.
In Hinduism, Shiva is considered to be a force of destruction, which makes way for rebirth. Chanting this mantra will clear all blockages in your mind and give you the power to destroy all your demons.
The Gayatri Mantra is considered to be one of the most rewarding Hindu mantras. The mantra is chanted to achieve success.
In Vedic texts, the mantra is dedicated to the Mother of the Vedas, Gayatri. In Hinduism, Gayatri is a representation of infinite knowledge.
Nirvana Shatakam is one of the most-loved Hindu mantras, especially within the Mahakatha community. Our lead mantra meditation singer, Preeti, has helped people transform their lives with this mantra.
This mantra is chanted in pursuit of Nirvana, meaning ultimate atonement. According to Vedic texts, Nirvana also means formless.
Chanting this mantra lets go of the ego that holds you back from divinity. You can practice your meditation sessions playing the audio of the Nirvana Shatakam chanted by Mahakatha's mantra meditation singer, Preeti.
In Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to achieve enlightenment like Buddha. Buddha was the first person to show that mere mortals can attain complete enlightenment. The followers of Buddhism have strict practices that follow the teachings of the Buddha and the Bodhisattva.
A true follower of Buddhist teachings is known as a Bodhisattva. In Mahayana Buddhism, a Bodhisattva can attain the status of a Buddha if he or she lets go of the indulgence in suffering.
This pursuit of letting go is the main crux of Buddhist mantras and mindfulness meditation. Chanting Buddhist mantras will help you achieve peace. They help you ease out of suffering and other negativity that holds you back in life. Here are a few mantras that are revered in Buddhism.
In Buddhism, this mantra is considered to be the first step to enlightenment. The mantra acknowledges the Buddha and offers submission to the Enlightened One.
I believe that the Namo Buddhaya Mantra is not merely some praise offered to Buddha. It is a conscious acknowledgment to be open to the abundance of knowledge and wisdom that leads to Enlightenment.
Chanting this mantra eases all your stress and helps you be receptive to new ideas that could help you overcome your mental block.
The Compassionate Buddha Mantra is a renowned Buddhist peace mantra. The mantra literally translates to ‘Hail the jewel in the lotus'. The six syllables in Om Mani Padme Hum looks like the most unambiguous mantra ever. Right?
But in Buddhism, The jewel symbolizes purity and the lotus symbolizes ultimate knowledge and wisdom.
The Buddhist mantra is chanted to instill a sense of compassion, calm the mind, eradicate fear, and mend a broken heart.
Mantra meditation has its roots in Buddhism and Vedic Hindu traditions. But using a mantra in meditation is transforming lives even today.
Mantras were designed to help people in the simplest way possible. Sounds were weaved into a mantra so that anyone can chant it from anywhere in the world.
So make the best of a mantra and overcome every obstacle you face. I am sure that you have upgraded your knowledge to a different level from merely googling ‘whats a mantra'.
And I hope that you use this knowledge to be a better version of yourself and inspire others to do the same.