Think of mantras as ancient affirmations. They are powerful, concentrate one’s attention on a desired goal, and calm the mind-body. I am partial to using Sanskrit mantras as Sanskrit is a sacred language, and these mantras have been helping people for millennia.
Thomas Ashley-Farrand’s book: Healing Mantras is the definitive guide for English speakers interested in pursuing this spiritually empowering path. I cannot recommend it too highly. He also has a CD where you can hear how the mantras sound, and a website (sanskritmantra.com).
You may chant, sing, say, or think a mantra. Try sampling some of Deva Premal’s CDs for examples of beautifully sung mantras. (You can listen to 30 seconds of each one on Amazon.com mp3 downloads or iTunes.) If you vocalize the mantra you will get the added benefit of the vibrational pattern that particular set of sounds induces, but silent repetition also works. In fact, Ashley-Farrand says, “Saying mantras silently is the most powerful way to say them.”
It is best to practice your mantra at the same time every day, preferably in the morning after waking and in the evening before bed. However, it is better to practice when you can than to abandon the discipline and miss out on the many benefits.
You may also want to repeat your mantra at various times during the day, as it can become a constant reminder to help you focus on your desire, as well as a trigger to relaxation and deeper breathing. I like to pair my inhales and exhales with the mantra. If it’s a very short one I will say it once completely on the inhale and once completely on the exhale. If it’s longer I will divide it where to comfortably fit my breathing pattern. Experiment and see what works best for you.
Mala beads, the strands of 108 beads used for keeping track of your practice are not necessary, though they can be quite beautiful and add a different ritual, as well as a tactile quality, to your repetitions. If you don’t want to buy mala beads (a wide variety is available on ebay) you can use a rosary and do it twice, as rosaries have 54 beads; or, you can simply use one hand to count up to ten and the other to count the groups of ten. I find this technique helps focus the mind even more.
Traditionally, you commit to saying the mantra for 40 days, 108 (or more) times a day. If you skip a day you start fresh.
Mantras both energize and quiet the mind, similar to yoga and meditation; but, they also work to attract what you want, remove obstacles, and re-center your body-mind-spirit.
The following are some of my favorite mantras. I have used these with great success over the years, and they have catalyzed many changes in my life. Ashley-Farrand says, “Develop a sense of humor about it, and be thankful. There is no better indication that your efforts are working than to have small upheavals in your life while you are in the midst of a 40 day mantra discipline. Ask anyone who has undertaken one and they will have some interesting stories for you.” So true.
Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha
(Om gum guh-nuh-puh-tuh-yay nahm-ah-ha)
A very powerful mantra for removing obstacles from your life, and when you are starting something new.
Om Shrim Mahalakshmiyei Swaha
(Om shreem maha lahksh-mee-yay swah-ha)
This mantra is for attracting prosperity, good friends, and clearing up family misunderstandings. Focus on the aspect you want to cultivate.
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
(Om doom door-gah-yay nahm-ah-ha)
This mantra offers protection from negativity
Om Eim Saraswatiyei Swaha
(Om i’m sah-rah-swah-tee-yea swah-hah)
A mantra for creative, educational and artistic endeavors.
Om Namah Shivaya
(Om nah-mah shee-vah-yah)
This mantra is chanted for spiritual development and self-actualization.
Om Sharavana-bhavaya Namaha
(Om shah-rah-vah-nah bhah-vah-yah nahm-ah-ha)
A very positive mantra for enhancing all aspects of life: one’s disposition, physical fitness, and general good luck.
Aham Arogyam, Aham Aanandam.
This translates to: “I am free from illness, I am eternally blessed.”
A very sacred and extremely simple mantra. It literally means: I am That. “That” is the divine. Using your breath, exhale “so” and inhale “ham” Let go on the exhale, and receive on the inhale.
Om Mani Padme Hum
(Om mah-nee pahd-mey-hoom)
This mantra produces a state of empowered compassion. If you want to change the world, this is for you. Incidentally, it is the most popular mantra worldwide.
(Poor-nat poor-nam udat-cha-tay)
This one is in a prayer called Pūrnamadah from the Upanishads. It means: I am whole and complete as I am.
Ashley Farrand says, “For the first few days, all will probably go smoothly. Then as you progress, you may find that things start to get in the way of your doing the discipline: You oversleep; there is some minor emergency; you get a cold, whatever. This means that you are beginning to effect the inner ‘something’ for which you undertook the mantra. You are beginning to encounter inner resistance. That inner resistance manifests as outer obstacles to your discipline. It has almost become a joke in many spiritual circles in which the practice of mantra is common, that something of a very surprising nature happened on day 33 or 35 of a 40 day practice. It has happened to me and many others with whom I have spoken on innumerable occasions over the last 22 years.
Just a note: After the age of 28 the endings of many mantras should be changed from Swaha to Namaha; however, the following mantras do not change their endings:
Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Om Eim Hrim Klim Chamundayei Viche Namaha
Om Sri Dhanvantre Namaha
Here’s a link to an article in Yoga Journal about mantras: http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/841?utm_source=DailyInsight&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_content=b&utm_campaign=DI_2009-07-23
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang