An Easy Guide to the Meaning of Mantras

By | September 11, 2017

“I don’t like chanting during a yoga class!”

I used to say the same, till I learnt this…

what's the meaning of mantras?

Mantra:

A word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.

A statement or slogan repeated frequently.

What is the meaning of mantras?

Until more recently, mantras were something kind of obscure to me. I wasn’t sure what they were for, and I used to literally hate going to classes where the teacher was expecting us to chant these meaningless words.

Actually, I was carefully avoiding those teachers and classes. Till I thought I’d do some research on the meaning of mantras to understand them a bit more, and I eventually discovered how useful they were to calm the mind and literally make you happier, more relaxed, and focused.

 

The Meaning of Mantras

We use the word “mantra” a lot, in the yoga world. But do you actually have any idea of what this word really mean?

Many people associate mantras to monks singing in temples, or something even more esoteric. That is why chanting mantras can often seem intimidating in a yoga class.

It certainly was for me when I first started yoga! (By the way, if you’re new to yoga, you might find interesting reading my 10 simple tips to start practicing yoga).

With this post, I’d like to help you clear any confusion and give you some basic information about the meaning of mantras. Maybe, after reading this, you’ll change your views of yoga classes focusing on a mantra…

So, what’s the meaning of this word?

“Mantra” means “liberation of the mind” in Sanskrit (man=mind; tra=liberation). You could chant mantras out loud, or silently in your head, turning inward. This will either way create a powerful vibration which will affect your body, mind, spirit, and environment around you. It may seem a complex concept to grasp, but that’s what really happens.

 

Definition of a Mantra

Now, if you think about it, the scientific definition of Sound is the “vibration of a membrane”. In fact, every sound we make is a vibration that travels through the air and reaches our ears.

But also, every thought we have creates a vibration in the Energy we are all made of and that we have inside of us, believe it or not.  And the vibrations generated by chanting mantras balance out the different vibrations in our bodies, and create harmony. Kind of like this:

SOUND >> VIBRATION >> MANY VIBRATIONS >> HARMONY

When we feel healthy and centered, the vibrations in our body will show a certain order and pattern, which will heavily impact things like stress and distractions. So mantras are designed in a way that their vibrations will create Order in our body, and will bring us back to a certain inner balance.

For this reason, chanting mantras is often used in meditation: it calms the mind and helps you focus.

Just think about it for a second:

How many other things can you think about while you’re singing your favorite song?

Probably not many, because you’re focused on the lyrics you’re singing, right? Well, chanting a mantra works the same way. Believe it or not, these vibrations create power.

Now, there are tons of different mantras, which can be whole sentences, like “I am love”, or simple single words like “compassion”.

Every mantra will generate a certain type of power. You can choose the right mantra you need depending on your current situation and state of mind. One day you may feel strong and powerful, but another you may feel weak and sleepy: either way, mantras will help you get back into the balance you need.

I must admit that I myself was skeptical at the beginning, and I found this a bit of an “exaggeration”, but my mindset shifted completely when I finally tested it and started to experience the results…

 

An important note on the meaning of mantras

Unlike what I initially thought, the use of mantras is in no way related to whatever your religious beliefs may be. You don’t need to be an active Hindu to practice or use these mantras.

Continue to send your prayers to whoever your God may be. I still guarantee you that chanting mantras, even silently, does leave you with an inexplicable calming energy inside. Because what matters the most is not so much what you say or sing, but rather the vibrations generated through the mantra. And there are some specific words that generate certain vibrations, and that are therefore “better placed for the job”.

 

So, what mantra should I use?

Out with the theory, let’s move on to the practice. I’m a very practical person myself, and rather than getting lots of “scientific” definitions, I’d rather test something on my own skin and watch the results.

So here below you can find a list of 3 popular and powerful mantras you could start with. Try them out, at least once. I’d love to know how you feel afterwards 🙂

 

1. Aum/OM – The Universal Sound

Click on the video below and listen for at least a few seconds:

You’ve just listened to the most famous mantra by definition, and the one we mostly use in yoga. Very often, yoga classes will start or end with the chanting of 1 or 3 OMs.

Pronounced as “Aum,” this is the mantra of Creation: they say that this sound originated from the creation of the Universe itself, and if you put together all the sounds in the Universe, you would hear an “AUM”.

This sound is useful for a powerful, calming, balancing and centering effect on the body, mind and spirit.

You’ll wonder why that is, and why the title of this video is “@ 432 Hz”.

Well, OM is said to vibrate at 432 Hertz, which is the natural musical pitch of the Universe, as opposed to 440 Hertz, which is the frequency of most modern music (you can read more on this website). Because “432Hz is based in nature, it generates healthy effects among the listeners. It brings natural harmony and balance of the 3rd dimension and connects you with a higher consciousness. The pure and clean energy of 432Hz removes mental block and opens a way to a more fulfilling life (from Attuned Vibrations).

So I really challenge you to try out this mantra, at least once…

Stop reading now, sit comfortably in your chair or on the floor, close your eyes, and replicate the sound of AUM out loud, or at least play it in your mind. It’s easier if you do this while the video is playing…

…How did it feel? 

Let us know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post, or feel free to send me an email with your thoughts.

One last thing about this important mantra: have you ever seen this sign?

OM sign

If you practice yoga already, or if you’re Hindu, you probably have. This is the iconographical representation of the OM sign. It’s a very sacred symbol and even a popular tattoo among yogis.

 

2. Gayatri Mantra

Did you listen to the video?

Beautiful music – isn’t it?

This is one of my favourites! Maybe because I just like this music, or maybe because there is really something about this mantra… It’s obviously very personal, but do let me know if this one resonates with you too.

The Gayatri Mantra is often used to open the heart, calm the mind and increase concentration.  This is what it says:

“Om bhur bhuva swaha

Tat savitur varenyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi

D’yo yona prachodhyat”

Which means:

“Earth, Mid-Heaven and Heaven!

Let’s meditate on the most glorious Divine Light

and pray that it may illuminate our minds.”

3. Om Namah Shivaya

This last mantra is a great one to use to build self-confidence, reminding us that we are all made of Divine Energy and that we should treat ourselves accordingly. In Sanskrit, it says:

“Om Namah Shivaya,

Namah Shivaya,

Nama Shiva”

And its translation goes something like this:

“I bow to Lord Shiva,

the supreme deity of transformation

who represents the truest, highest Self.”

 

What to do now

Hopefully the meaning of mantras is a bit clearer to you now.

Are you going to try any of my suggestions? Do you use any mantra in your practice?

If not, what’s holding you back?

Do share your experience in the Comments below! It will be a great help and motivator for all of us.

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