Whether you meditate regularly or not, you’re familiar with the power of a word or phrase to focus yourself. In class, the chanting of Om (said to be the syllable “of the vibration of the Supreme”) or the quiet sharing of Namaste (which can be translated as “the divine in me salutes the divine in you) heightens your experience and brings your mind back to the present after Savasana (Corpse Pose). But, there is so much more to the power of mantras in your meditation or your yoga practice.
They can be there for you as a confidence tool, a sort of “you can do it!” mnemonic for yourself trying a hard pose or gathering yourself to achieve a personal goal, whether it’s a move, a promotion or a bucket-list yoga poses. Mantras can also still the monkey mind that is trying to spend your entire mediation session worrying about whether you’ve paid the bills, when you’re going to get the groceries or how you’re going to manage your hectic schedule for the next week.
In many yogic traditions, mantas are held to have a power that helps you access a different state of being, one that is calmer and less distracted than your everyday mental patterns. Some mantra experts contend that mantras can help you tap into your “super-conscious” which is the highest form of consciousness. Mantras also help you regulate your breath as you meditate, allowing you to breathe more regularly and deeply, which in turn helps you calm down.
You can meditate on any word or phrase that has meaning to you. You can also try chanting the mantra out loud or meditating on it in silence to find you what works for you. It might be easier for you to do this as a walking meditation, for example. However you choose to explore this practice, here are some mantras to add to the rhythm of your life:
Om bhur bhuvah svah
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat
(May we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the god:
So may he stimulate our prayers)
Considered the mother of all mantras (so popular that a version was featured in the opening theme of Battlestar Galactica), this is usually preceeded by Om. It is an invocation of connection to the divine or a higher power and it’s a great mantra for times when you feel weak, helpless or unempowered. Here is a link to hear Deva Premal singing this mantra.
Om Namah Shivaya
While this ancient mantra has no direct translation, it refers to the elements which govern five of the chakras. It can be roughly interpreted as a salutation to what you are capable of becoming. If you are looking for a feeling of freedom or you want to explore the chakras, this is a mantra to try. Here is a link to Krishnas Das performing this mantra.
Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
(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.)
This mantra is a simple invocation about making the world a better place. It reminds you of the good you are empowered to do and receive in return. This is a fantastic mantra for times when you feel like you can’t fix the problems you see around you, in your life or that of others. Here is a link to hear Deva Premal singing this mantra.
These are only a few of the many phrases out there you can meditate on. There are a number of websites that have streaming audio with mantras, but, as with any site, do a security scan before clicking “okay.” One starting point might be iTunes or Amazon.com’s MP3 downloads—or your local library’s audio section. you can feel free to find ones that are meaningful to you. Try the name of a loved one, or a favorite concept. Find something that speaks to you and compels you.