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What is a Mantra Practice and How Does it Work?

Chances are, if you’ve ever practiced yoga, you’ve come into contact with mantra. Have you ever sang an “Ommmmmmm” at the beginning or end of a yoga class? That's the chanting mantra!

But what exactly is a mantra and what purpose does it serve?

A mantra is a sound, word or series of words chanted aloud or silently to invoke different qualities or states of being.

According, Sri Swami Satchinanda: “Mantra means anything that makes the mind steady. Whatever vibration makes the mind one-pointed and creates a sort of receptivity is a mantra.”

The most powerful aspect of using a mantra is not the meaning behind what you are saying, but the energy from the vibrations of the word (or words). It is a habit of ours to want to know the meaning of the words, but it doesn't actually matter whether or not you know the meaning or translation of the mantra, as it is the sound and vibration that have the biggest effect on your body, mind and spirit. It is the sound that leads us into deeper or altered states of consciousness.

Mantras also help calm the fluctuations of the mind and mental chatter by giving the mind a point of focus. This, in turn, helps us find more inner stillness. Each mantra also activates a particular kind of energy in a different part of the body.

According to Sadguru, a mantra is a mathematically organized sound pattern that has a deep impact on the system. He says that when we utter a sound, that form is being created ~ and that we can create powerful forms by uttering sounds in particular arrangements.

Authentic mantras (Sanskrit Mantras) were not invented or developed by any person; they are sounds that were received and experienced by the great sages in states of deep meditation, according to Yoga International. They are not part of any particular language or religion; they are profound, precise sounds that are eternal and universal.

There are 4 ways to practice mantra:

Out loud: This creates a vibratory environment within you and around you. It can shift the energy in your space and can be super powerful when done in a group, and creates a build up of energy collectively.

Softly: This is simply chanting in a whisper.

Silently: When chanting silently, just to yourself, the intention is to release all other thoughts and move more fully into stillness.

Tuning in: After you have been practicing a mantra for some time, this can start to arise. This happens when we tune into the mantra, we are listening to the mantra and not really saying it. It is arising within us.

It is really great to tune into the Bhava ~ the attitude ~ of the mantra you are using.

While you can read about using mantra in your daily life all you want, mantra is something that needs to be experienced through practice to be able to fully grasp and feel its effects. You could view it as a somatic (through the body) or visceral experience.

As one of my teachers, Kia Miller, says: “The true power of mantra cannot be truly understood until it is experienced.”

A Few Simple Mantras to Try On

So Hum: I am that. I am here now. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am safe. I am enough.

Sat Nam: Truth is my identity

Aham Prema: I am love

Aham Prakasha: I am light

Sat Chit Ananda: Truth, Consciousness, Bliss

Morning Ritual Mantra Practice

Try this 11-minute morning ritual. If it is too much, try for 6 minutes or 3 minutes. If it is not enough, try for 21 minutes or 30 minutes.

1. Set up a small altar in your home or you may choose to simply light a candle or incense.

2. For one full minute, shake your entire body. Consciously releasing and letting go of anything going on in the mind or from your day. Shake it out!

3. Find a comfortable seated position ~ either on the Earth with a meditation cushion or in a chair with your feet planted on the ground. If you want the most amazing meditation cushions, by the way, check out Crystal Cove Yoga Pillows and Cushions.

4. Close your eyes and feel yourself fully arriving into your physical bodies and start to focus on your breath.

5. Practice 3 minutes of Box Breathing while focusing on the third-eye center. Inhaling for 3 counts, holding the breath for 3 counts, exhaling for 3 counts and holding out the exhale for 3 counts. (You can increase to 5 counts, 10 counts or 15 counts.)

6. For the next 6 minutes, keep breathing consciously in and out through the nose. And begin to silently bring in your mantra, i.e., inhale silently say “So” and exhale silently say “Hum.” (You can use one of the mantras from the above list).

7. At the end of your time, bring your hands on your heart. Thank yourself for taking out time for you and then set an intention for your day.

Tip: If the mind wanders, which it most likely will, do not judge it. Just keep returning to the breath and the mantra. Use Insight Timer (I LOVE them) if you want to set multiple timers for one session. This app offers many cool features!

Other simple healing mantras you may want to try, as offered by Chopra:

  • For the sinuses: Mmmmm

  • For the ears: Nnnnnnn

  • For the eyes: Eeemmm

  • For the throat: Gaa Gha

  • For the jaw: Yaa Yu Yai

The vowel sounds can also be used for healing. These are non-local, meaning you can chant one of them and direct its vibration wherever you choose.

  • Aaa

  • Eeeee

  • Eye

  • Ooooo

  • Uuuuuu

If you’d like to be guided in a Mantra meditation, check out any of my online courses ~ I weave Mantra into the practices I offer in both my Intuition 101 course (the next one starts Feb 7!) as well as my 21 Days of Meditation courses. See upcoming offerings here.


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