To share chanting is to share an experience of silence through listening, a process of healing, and a link with nature, the deeper self, and the divine.
— T K V Desikachar
Mantras symbolise our mind, consciousness, and spirit. What's more, even when you perform your routine daily tasks, the repetitive chanting of a mantra helps you to feel spiritually elevated and calm.
That mantras are used during meditation to reinforce changes brought about through them is obvious.
All sound is cosmic vibration. Any sound that is created affects the Universe.
The power of sound is easy-to-understand.
Sound of words can soothe, or enliven us. Soft words heal us, while harsh words create repulsiveness and anxiety. A single word can soothe, or disturb us. The irate jangling of the telephone call irritates us, whereas the soft tinkling of the water fountain smoothes the furrows on our forehead.
Mantras are one word, or a single sound, like Om - they may also be short phrases, or a string of sounds like Om Namo Shivaya. They are chanted in rhythm-like poetic hymns. They are potent with primordial energy and purpose.
A mantra is directly associated with the mental processes; they affect our brain, nerves, and emotional balance. According to Sanskrit texts, a mantra is a sacred utterance which protects and frees our mind. A mantra uses basic sound and rhythm patterns to redirect the flow of thoughts in our minds, so that we are freed from the fear that limits our true selves.
Need for repetition
The repetition of any mantra, or of a deity's name, is called jap. Jap is often a part of meditation, or dhyan, because the repetition of the mantra helps in creating focus and concentration. The jap has to be done with sincerity and feeling, so that the force of the Divine Power, that we are invoking, suffuses our being. After the jap is over, it is important to sit quietly, for at least 10 minutes, letting the spiritual vibrations that we have invoked have their effect. You should also use this time for reflection and calm before you resume your routine daily activity.
- Om. This is the primordial sound. The vibration produced by chanting Om corresponds to the original vibration that first emerged at the time of Creation. The Sound of Om is also called pranava, because it sustains life and runs through prana, or breath.
- Soham. "I am Him." In other words, the Divine, or Supreme Being, is within me.
- Tat Tvam Asi. "That Thou Art!" This is acceptance of, and surrender to, the Supreme Being.
- Aham Brahma Asmi. This means "Brahma is within me." It invokes the Divine within oneself.
- Om bhur'bhuvah svah tatsaviturvarenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodyat.This is the Gayatri mantra - the most powerful mantra. Gayatri mantra invokes the Almighty, the Supreme God, the Creator of the Cosmos, and the essence of our life's existence, He who removes all our pains and sufferings, and grants us happiness by His Divine Grace, within us. His Divinity and Radiance, adds to purify us, and guides our righteous wisdom on to the right path.Gayatri mantra should be meditated, everyday.
- Om Namo Shivaya. This is another powerful mantra, the repetition of which produces the form of Lord Shiva. The mantra is an invocation to Him. Mantras, formulated by our ancient sages, create specific energies. They cannot be translated and used. Reason: translation changes the vibrations created.
Experience of silence. Mantras help us to attain and experience silence. During meditation, we find that our mind is distracted with the continuous chatter of irrelevant thoughts and ideas. Through the simple process of chanting, we attain the silence we require for meditation. For example, as we take a deep breath and inhale, and chant Om slowly as we exhale, and repeat this process continuously, we train our minds to become quiet and still. Alternatively, we can also chant silently without using sound, and connect with the stillness within.
A process of listening. We can chant a mantra aloud, or whisper it. What is important is we need to listen carefully to our chanting, and make it effective. As a result, its impact becomes more powerful. We find ourselves connecting to and awakening the dormant energy within us. In the process, we also develop our listening skills; this helps us to be quieter and more receptive.
A process of healing. Sound has an immense capacity to heal. We need to understand this, and use this knowledge to apply it in our daily lives to heal the imbalances in our body and spirit. The chanting of mantras helps us to heal and recover, and find peace within ourselves. Chanting energises us; besides, it soothes and calms our spirits.
A link with nature. The environment most suitable to the chanting of mantras should be natural, preferably a garden, or shady nook under a tree. Or, it should be a quiet and open space, as close to nature as possible. If not, the quiet of your room overlooking trees, or flowers, will just do fine.
A link with our deeper self. Mantras link us with our natural selves, stripped of all the trappings of the world.
A link with the Divine. When we continuously chant a mantra, we move into a deeper state of concentration, connecting with the essence of the mantra. This deep meditative state is called dharana. It helps us to draw the power of the mantra closer to ourselves; it links us to Divinity.
Mantras chanted with the right rhythm, accuracy, earnestness and devotion, not only help invoke the Deity to whom they are addressed, but they also compel that Divine Power to come to the aid of the sadhak, or invoker.
The daily chanting of mantras is a spirited tool in the process of our evolution to a higher level.
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