Used in various religions and spiritual practices for millennia, mantras have been rapidly gaining popularity in western cultures. This is primarily due to them being used during meditation or yoga practices. While many people feel their power, there are those that still ask: what is the meaning of a mantra?
To have a better understanding, we can take a look at the definition of the word mantra. It comes from Sanskrit - a language of ancient India - and can be defined as “a tool for the mind”. It’s no wonder mantras are often used in meditation and yoga to focus the mind, improve concentration, and create mental calmness. Their main purpose is to slowly cultivate intention, awareness, and develop a higher level of consciousness.
But how does a mantra work? Most mantras are sounds, syllables, or vibrations that are chanted or recited repeatedly in order to cause a specific sound frequency - their power comes mainly from the audible effect on the brain. Think of mantras as a sonic presence that can take your meditation practice to the next level Their vibrations encourage your mind to enter into a meditative state where you will be ready to connect more deeply to the self.
Although understanding the specific meaning of a mantra while you repeat it can be powerful in helping convert negative habits into positive ones, it’s not essential to know the mantra’s definition in order to experience its energy. In fact, many mantras don't have a literal meaning. Some masters encourage you to forget about the meaning entirely, since our mind is trained to overthink and you might find yourself asking, "what does this mantra mean?" rather than actually focusing on its sound.
Now that you understand what a mantra is, here are some tips to start your practice:
- One of the most important things is to get the pronunciation right. Some linguists consider Sanskrit as the “perfect language,” because its correct pronunciation evokes a unique vibration that can be used to manifest your intentions through the mantra. Make sure you pronounce the mantra correctly, by listening to an experienced practitioner recite it!
- Don't overthink before getting started. Once you are willing to try mantra chanting, don't worry about setting a specific environment - you don’t need to be in yogi mode for it - start simple! Mantras are a powerful ancestral gift that you can use anywhere and anytime. Are you feeling out of focus, anxious or stressed? Just pick a mantra and repeat it in a way that feels right for you - chanting it loud or softly, reciting it to yourself, or even whispering.
- Breathe! Sounds simple, right? Yet in our modern lives, we forget to pay attention to how we breathe and have a tendency to rush through it. Breathing properly makes a huge difference in how you recite your mantra. Start by inhaling slowly and deeply for 10 seconds, hold the breath for 10 seconds and then exhale slowly for 10 more. Start smaller and build up if you need to! Repeat it for a couple of minutes.
- Make a habit out of it! If you are looking to make mantras a part of your routine, follow these simple steps to obtain the most benefits. Lie down or sit in a comfortable position and silently repeat the mantra, while breathing in and out slowly. When thoughts come across your mind, acknowledge them, then return to reciting the mantra. Many traditions will suggest that shorter mantras should be chanted 108 times (mala beads can be used for keeping track of that), but if you feel this might be tricky for you, just try it out for 10 to 20 minutes per day. It’s better to stick to one mantra for the first months so that you can develop your connection to it.
- While chanting or reciting a mantra, you can also make use of a mantra bracelet and crystals. These have certain properties to enhance the intention you wish to manifest with the mantra. Crystals also vibrate at specific frequencies that can interact with the energy around you, making this a powerful combination!
Below you can find a list of 5 powerful mantras for beginners with our suggestions of crystals that can increase their power:
Meaning: The origin of all sound, the sound of the universe.
Intention: Helps soothe and purify the mind, easing negative feelings such as anxiety.
Chanting OM brings you into harmonic resonance with the universe.
Crystal to wear while chanting it: Malachite - inner transformation.
(low-kaah’-ha suh-muh-staah’-ha soo-khee-no’ buh’-fun-too)
Meaning: May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
Intention: Encourages cooperation, compassion, and living in harmony with our universe and each other.
Crystal to wear while chanting it: Rose Quartz - universal love.
Om Namah Shivaya (a-u-m námaha shee-vaa-ya)
Meaning: I bow to Shiva, the supreme deity of transformation who represents the truest, highest self.
Intention: Build self-confidence, and reduce ego-based feelings like jealousy, greed, anger and frustration.
Crystal to wear while chanting it: Blue Fluorite - strength.
Om śāntih śāntih śāntih (a-u-m shanti hee shanti hee shanti hee)
Meaning: Peace, peace, peace.
Intention: Peace is never too much to ask!
Crystal to wear while chanting it: Amethyst - serenity.
- Om bhur bhuvah svah | tat savitur varenyam | bhargo devasya dhimahi | dhiyo yo nah prachodayat ||
Meaning: Earth, heaven, and everything in between. The excellent divine power of the sun. May we contemplate the radiance of God. May this inspire our understanding.Intention: Invokes the light to help transcend suffering.
Crystal to wear while chanting it: Quartz - healing