Mantras are an integral part of the Transcendental Meditation (or TM). In fact, the practice centers on the repetition of short, secret mantras chosen for each individual by a teacher.
A mantra is a word or a phrase that is repeated with the intention of creating a trance-like meditative state. The word literally means, “to free from the mind.” It is used to transcend the mind and experience consciousness without the limitations of thought.
Transcendental Meditation devotees are instructed to never speak their mantra to anyone else (and to keep their practice private as well). However, the standard TM mantras are not all that secret. The combination of syllables are easily found on any number of websites and appear to be based on the student’s age and sex (at least, the initial instructor-assigned mantras are easily accessible to non-practitioners; later, some students choose their own private – and secret – mantras).
There are currently about 16 basic mantras in use, but it wasn’t always this way. In the early 1960’s, only two mantras were used in the Transcendental Meditation practice. Men used “Ram” and women used “Shiriram.”
Do mantras really work? And if they do, how do they work?
Mantras are sounds that have a specific energetic vibrational quality (tone or pitch) just like a musical instrument or any other sound, audible or inaudible.
A sound – a spoken word – can either have a high vibrational quality or a low one. For example, the words ‘love’ and ‘hate’ have very different vibrations and intentions. You can use the energy of a sound to create a desired vibration within your body. Mantras are used to unify the body’s vibration, which may be out of balance due to too many negative thoughts and emotions. The cells in your body store the energy of all of your thoughts; and if your thoughts are predominantly negative, there are physical repercussions.
Studies have shown that when you repeat a mantra long enough, your body will start to vibrate in tune with the energy of the sound you repeat, like an instrument will begin to resonate to a tuning fork. Smaller individual vibrations of the organs, your thoughts and your emotions come into sync with the vibration of the mantra. A subtle physical change occurs in the body (which is why meditation is often used as a healing tool). Use a mantra to neutralize the effects of negativity that had been stored in the cells.
You can create any state of being you desire using the sound of a mantra including happiness, peace, calm and vitality.
Mantras originated as spiritual tools and they are still used that way today. But is it necessary to learn Sanskrit to really understand the meaning?
Although we can translate a mantra from the original Sanskrit into whatever language we want, there is no way to translate the experience. That, you have to create for yourself. It’s like if you were told “don’t go outside in the evening, the mosquitoes will bite you,” you may understand the concept but if you have never been bitten by a mosquito, you won’t fully comprehend the experience that the words try to convey, until you are actually bitten by a mosquito. The only way to fully experience the bite of a mosquito is to go beyond the words and allow the experience to occur. It’s the same with mantras. Repeat them, allow the vibration to become part of you, and experience the results.
There are several Sanskrit “seed mantras” which have no literal translation, but have been used for thousands of years, with certain effects due to their particular vibrational qualities. “Shrim” (shREEm) is an example of a mantra that is said to powerfully attract abundance. Does the word itself create abundance? The sound is, according to ancient traditions, a vibrational match for abundance. But the most important element here is the speaker’s intention. If you intend to attract a certain kind of abundance (for example, financial wealth), then your intentions combined with the mantra will influence your capability of attracting wealth.
Mantras also correspond to the energy centers of the body, or the chakras. Each chakra has a sound and a color associated with it. Each sound that is spoken as a mantra will balance the chakra with the same vibration. This is one way that mantras are used for healing purposes.
Using Mantras to Enhance Your Meditation Experience
Mantras are best when they are easy to say and remember. The fastest results (the experience resulting from the vibration of the sound) come when you relax and stop trying too hard. Repeat the mantra, keep your mind focused on it and relax your muscles, allowing your whole body to come into resonance with the sound.
This can be a short-lived sensation if you’re new to mantras. Your mind will start chattering again very soon. Gently redirect your attention back to the mantra. Avoid getting frustrated, though. The key is gentleness and persistence. Eventually the mind will become quiet and you will be at peace. With practice, you’ll be able to mentally amplify the mantras to the point that the mind goes silent for extended periods.
If you choose your own Transcendental Meditation mantras, keep these tips in mind:
- your mantra should resonate with you and be meaningful to you
- your mantra should create the physical sensations, emotions and state of being that you want
- you can choose a word like ‘love’ or ‘one’ to create a feeling of unity
- your mantra should be easy to say and remember
- your mantra should be easy to “automate”: once you begin saying it, it should quickly become effortless so you lose yourself in its repetition.
When you are listening to Omharmonics, choose a mantra that matches or complements the soundtrack (in your perception). If you use a multi-syllable mantra, make sure you say it in sync with the music to keep the whole experience effortless. Your meditation will be extraordinarily deep and meaningful!