Prologue: Let me tell you something. You are extremely powerful. No, really. You have the ability to create your own reality. The key is taking responsibility for your own life, and then harnessing tools available in the universe, seeking guidance from wise teachers, and working your butt off. But the power. . . it’s inside. And the more you harness, the more you believe in yourself, the more you work toward what you want, the more powerful you will become. You might not start out super powerful today. . .but start working toward whatever it is you want . . (remember 1% a day). . . And watch doors open, and the universe respond to that vibration. If you are constantly looking outward for the change that you are seeking, you’re looking in the wrong place. I know from personal experience. Change comes from the inside out. Okay?? Okay.
Oh, how I love mantra. No seriously. I love mantra. I chant.
A mantra is a word or words, spoken or thought over and over. They are words that have power, either because of their meaning or sound. Mantras help to facilitate meditation by focusing the mind. Many Sanskrit and Gurbani mantras also create a physical/emotional reaction in the body through the mechanism of the tongue hitting certain parts of the mouth. I know it sounds crazy. But we know by now that there are things in this world we don’t really understand. And for me,it is a really effective practice.
Getting to the ancient root of it all, mantra, at its core, is the basis of all religious traditions, scriptures, and prayers. According to Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (Dr. David Frawley), when carefully chosen and used silently, mantras are said to have the ability to help alter your subconscious impulses, habits, and afflictions. Mantras, when spoken or chanted, direct the healing power of Prana (life force energy) and, in traditional Vedic practices, can be used to energize and access spiritual states of consciousness. Mantra as a spiritual practice should be done on a regular basis for several months for its desired effects to take place.
Before I discovered yoga, one of the ways I worshipped and connected to God was in song. I sang songs to God and for God, and it was always a means for me to connect with the divine. I also added daily repetition of The Lord’s Prayer, or 23rd Psalm, which I often recited before leaving the house in the morning. (This girl loves a ritual. . . years of catholic school will do that to you.) Praise often helps me feel better. (And all you have to do is go to a LIVE black church on Sunday morning to know that praise makes everyone feel better!) Mantra is an extension or corollary of that. With mantra, you repeat a phrase or a word over and over, either in your mind or outloud. The vibration in your throat and mind begins to vibrate your whole body. And then outward to the universe and to God. This is how “God” hears our prayers, and why you don’t have to pray out loud for God to hear you. It’s about the vibration. (I put God in parentheses because even if you don’t believe, the universe will respond to your individual vibration. It’s science.)
All spiritual traditions incorporate mantra, and for good reason. In Christianity, adherents memorize and recite scripture, and sing hymns, including The Lord’s Prayer, which is a beautiful mantra for meditation. Mantra meditation is a central practice of Bhakti yoga. In kundalini yoga, meditations often involve chanting for at least eleven minutes. Toward the end of that time period my body is usually vibrating the mantra, and I feel it on the inside. What a wonderful way to connect with God.
So mantra helps to stimulate your energetic body, or your chakras.
Our chakras are energy centers in our body, and in eastern medicine, the chakras are as real, and have as big an impact on our health and vitality as our bones and organs. When we chant, or speak mantra, or pray, we are directly activating our Vissudha or throat chakra, and this activation creates a vibration that penetrates your physical and spiritual bodies.
The throat chakra is the energy center through which we speak our truth. And it is extremely powerful. We know that our words have power. We pray. We speak positive affirmations over ourselves and others. Our words have the power to heal or to destroy.
If anyone can control his tongue, it proves that he has perfect control over himself in every other way. 3 We can make a large horse turn around and go wherever we want by means of a small bit in his mouth. 4 And a tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong.
5 So also the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark.
We often spend our time focusing on the more unsavory aspects of our words, or focusing on the effects that our words have on others. Not cussing, gossiping, speaking mean things to and about others, but we don’t talk enough about the ways we can use our own voices to build ourselves up.
I wrote previously about my negative self talk, and how crippling it was. Mantra has been an amazing tool to help me break this negative thought pattern. For an entire year my mantra was:
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH WHO I AM.
Seriously. I had to tell myself that. Because I felt inherently, that something was wrong with me. I had to tell myself that this isn’t true. This feeling that I had that I was “wrong” somehow was not real. I have faults like everyone else. But I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
It was a practice. When I found myself heading into a negative self image thought process, I would tell myself: There is nothing wrong with who I am. (Not that I am perfect. But the big ME, me, the SELF, the SOUL within this body, she’s perfect. . .and made in God’s image. . . and deserves to be treated that way. . .even by me. you are too).
That was my first real experience with the healing powers of mantra. I can tell you that subsequently I also experienced spontaneous healing from deeply held emotional scars through the chanting of mantra. (Kundalini yoga is the bomb, and mantra is a huge part of the practice, and if you are interested you should check out my girl Lindy Hoeft.) I have gained immense insight through my mantra meditation practice. When I’m down or anxious, chanting mantra helps to soothe my anxiety. So, if you’re curious about the whole mantra thing, here are a few ways you can get your chant on:
- Music: There are amazing recordings of mantras on iTunes and youtube. I started my at home kundalini yoga practice with kirtan kriya, and followed a video on youtube in my living room. I love to listen to mantras while I’m driving to work, or walking. It’s a wonderful way to keep up your spiritual practice throughout the day, and your vibration high.
- Japa Mala: A mala is a necklace with 108 beads, and is used similarly to a rosary in Catholicism. 108 is a sacred number, and you use the mala to chant your mantra 108 times. Malas combine a couple of my favorite things: jewelry and crystals, or precious stones. You can customize your malas for specific properties, such as heart opening, protection, grounding, based upon the materials they are made of. I have several malas, but I don’t usually meditate with mine. I prefer to meditate for set time limits using a timer. I’ve tried, but the beads can be distracting to me, and I end up with headaches. . .but they may be a great tool for you.
- Meditation: Hey. . . it wouldn’t be a list of mine without meditation. But yeah, mantra is a great meditation tool, and was how I started meditating. I would repeat love to myself over and over, concentrating on stilling my mind. It still works, and when I find myself having a difficult time stilling my mind, I often start my meditations with mantra. Also, some meditations involve chanting a mantra, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to meditate. I get all buzzy from the energy from my throat chakra, and it’s a really upbeat way to start the day. It’s all about those good vibes baby!
Some of my favorite mantras:
There is nothing wrong with who I am.
I am the light of my soul. I am beautiful. I am bountiful. I am bliss. I am. I am.- Yogi Bhajan
Lokah Samastah Sukino Bavantu (May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May my thoughts, words, and actions contribute to that happiness.)
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti ((Om is the sound of creation) Peace Peace Peace)
Aap Sahaee Hoa. Sachay Daa Sachaa Doaa, Har, Har, Har (The Creator has become my protector, the Truest of the True has taken care of me, God, God, God.) This is my new favorite mantra. It’s powerful, and protective. You are calling on the protection of God, and confident in his ability to provide and care for you. It is a lovely vibration to put into the universe, and very effective. It is considered a prosperity mantra. I sing it along with a recording by Sat Darshan Singh and Sirgun Kaur, on their album The Music Within. It’s dope.
Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.
The Lord’s Prayer
The 23rd Psalm-I use this for everything, and have used it for most of my life. It is a wonderful, calming, protective mantra. I believe it is also a prosperity mantra.
I am loved and deserving of love.
There is so much power in our voices. Maybe find a mantra that resonates with you, and repeat it to yourself when you think of it. Pay attention to how you feel after you chant. Let me know if it works for you.