When I think of the word "mantra," I think, "words to live by." We each hold certain phrases or idioms dear to us - without even knowing it - and they can govern the way we live. Some people constantly say, "no pain, no gain" to get them through the hard parts of their pursuits; a mantra they live by. We are bombarded by mantras through advertising, too. We often don't realize how these mantras ingrain themselves deep within us, with profound effects.
In his book, Healing Mantra, Thomas Ashley-Farrand says that mantras are a "tool for healing problems that we all face in life." Traditionally, mantra is associated with holy chanting in many religions. Chanting in Sanskrit is something you may or not have come across in a yoga class, if even just the proverbial "Om" or "AUM."
Quantum Physics has revealed to us that the world is made up of vibrations, that everything vibrates at a frequnecy that is unique to it. The language of Sanskrit is said to be a vibrational language, meaning the words were devised by ancient rishis (spiritual scientists) to vibrate at very particular frequencies which actually contain the meaning of the words. That means that when you chant in Sanskrit, you send intentional vibrations into the universe and that can be very powerful.
If that sounds a little too esoteric to you, then let's just say this: Chanting is powerful and when you do it, you can feel that. When you come together with other people to sing mantras, you soon feel connected to your heart space (as long as you are open-minded, that is). The spirit is uplifted through chanting, plain and simple. And we can all benefit from an uplifted spirit every now and again.
The point of mantra is to recognize the power behind the spoken word, even if just spoken in your mind. We've all felt the regret of saying one wrong thing to another person, to great effect. Do you ever consider the things you contantly say to yourself, especially the negative things, and the strength those internal words might have on your overall wellbeing?
Take the first step by recognizing the power in words. Then, start to become mindful about the things you say to others and to yourself. Next, you can replace negative phrases with positive affirmations (that is, if you'd like to manifest positivity). And finally, you may be ready to seek out a kirtan at one of your local yoga studios where you can sit down in community, chant and send that positivity out into the world.
If you want to be prepared, pick up a copy of Healing Mantras: Using Sound Affirmations for Personal Power, Creativity and Healing. I think you'll be shocked at what you discover on a journey into mantra. I was!
Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha