When we have something challenging to address in our lives, beginning a daily mantra practice can help to hold things steady. When we have a goal we wish to reach, mantra can motivate us to believe in ourselves and to take a chance. Mantra has the power to calm, to support, and to nurture. The practice of chanting mantra empowers us.
Sounds hold vibration. A word holds the vibration of the sounds it is made of—and the meaning that the word signifies. When we repeat a word or phrase, we create an energetic pattern within ourselves. This energy is comprised of the power of its sounds and our association with its words. When we repeat a mantra, we click right into that groove we have created, so over time, the mantra becomes a pathway into the energy that we wish to access: peace, strength, ease, focus, self-love, acceptance, joy.
In this way, mantra becomes a device that holds meaning and offers meaning. It resonates physically in our bodies and spiritually in our consciousness. We are part of the mantra because we form it with our minds and bodies. And consequently, the mantra forms us, consolidating its particular pattern of energy within us.
In the same way that the mantra takes root in our energetic composition, over time, the mantra begins to chant us. You might find yourself engaged in your daily routine and realize that a particular mantra is circulating in your head. You have created its pattern, and now it has a life inside of you. A mantra practice is a collaboration between your energetic world and the energy of the greater world and universe. Sometimes you engage with it deliberately and at other times it pops up unexpectedly in your consciousness.
Beginning a mantra practice is easy and empowering. Here are three approaches:
Chant the sound of Om—Om, or AUM, is a bija mantra. A bija means a seed or a seed syllable that holds vibratory power. Think of how a tiny apple seed holds an apple tree within it. Om is the sound of consciousness- the vibratory sound that the universe is always making. Imagine the universe as an ocean and the sound of the waves is Om. When you chant Om, you are moving with the waves, and participating more deeply in the energetic power of the universe. There are many bijas, but Om is the bija of bijas. You may wish to chant Om 3 times in the morning or before bed, acknowledging the beginning and end of your day. Or you may wish to use a mala, and chant Om for every bead. Try listening for Om in the sounds you hear around you throughout your day, another way of practicing.
Chant Om Namah Shivaya. The deity Shiva represents everything that exists, the entire universe, so when we chant Om Namah Shivaya, we are chanting to the beauty, wonder, and mystery of being alive. Om evokes the vibratory power of everything that exists. Namah means that we bow down or honor. Shivaya means to or for Shiva. Om Namah Shivaya means I bow down to the Divine within us all. As in the Bija Mantra practice, you can chant this three times or use a mala for multiple repetitions. The rise and fall of chanting Om Namah Shivaya can be meditative and mesmerizing.
Your Choice! A personal mantra is a word or phrase that you choose because it inspires, comforts, or supports you in some way. This use of mantra has woven itself into our culture as an affirmation. Beginning and ending our day with a personal mantra, for example, I am strong or simply strength or I am at peace or simply peace can help to shape your daily reality and help you to stay focused regardless of what is happening around you.
Mantra is power: the power of ease, of strength, of focus, of beauty. What power do you wish to connect with in your life? Decide… And begin your mantra practice—right now.
Photo courtesy of Roxxe Photography NYC