You know the phrase “you are what you eat”. Well, turns out the same is true for what you say and think, too!
We all have our favorite sayings like “what goes around comes around” but if something you said repeatedly could have a positive impact on your life? This is what the use of mantra can teach us.
A mantra is a transformative tool that helps the mind enter into a meditative state. It is something that can be repeated by vocalizing or thought. Have you ever been in a yoga class and wondered what your teacher is chanting at the end?
It may have sounded like an alien language, and that's because it's actually no longer spoken. Traditional yoga mantras are said in Sanskrit, which originated in India.
If you've tried chanting along and felt a little silly or freaked out, it's good to start with some basics.
The most popular yoga mantra you hear is OM. It is said to be the first sound of the universe and contains all of creation within it. It is actually comprised of 3 syllables A-U-M, which all stand for something different. A is the waking state, U is the dream state, and M is the deep sleep state. There is a pause at the end in honor of silence.
The word shanti means peace and is often chanted 3 times after reciting OM. It is said to cleanse and bring peace to the body, mind, and spirit.
This mantra is generally translated as meaning “truth” or “I am that is”.
How to Practice
Why not give it a go on your own before opening your mouth in the next class? Be clear and precise with what you're saying so you don't stumble over your words! This way you bring awareness to what you are saying and not just blindly repeating something.
The ancient yogis loved multiples of 9, in particular, the number 108 for various purposes. If you truly desire to go deeper with mantra work, you can use mala beads to recite the mantra 108 times. If you don't have access to them, then practice 9 repetitions using your fingers to count! Easy peasy.
There is a seemingly infinite number of mantra out there and this is only the tip of the iceberg! If these peak your interest, you will be onto learning more complicated ones like “om gam ganapataye namah” in no time! Try saying that one 3 times (x 3) fast!