A mantra is a sacred sound structure that contains a powerful latent energy which can be awakened by verbal or mental repetition.
Japa Yoga is the science of mantra repetition.
Mantras can be of an abstract nature, with no attribute (Nirguna), or of a concrete nature with attributes (Saguna). The choice of a mantra depends upon the nature of the practitioner and his inclination. Ideally, one should receive a mantra initiation from a spiritual teacher.
If one does not have a personal mantra, it also possible to choose a mantra with which one feels a natural affinity.
Mantras with attributes (Saguna)
Om Namo Narayanaya
- Meaning: “Salutations to Lord Narayana (Vishnu)”
- Vishnu, the Preserver, is a member of the Trinity, along with Brahma, the Creator, and Shiva, the Destroyer.
- Vishnu represents peace, preservation of values and world integrity. He is the Great Teacher. Rama and Krishna are divine incarnations (avatar) of Vishnu.
Om Namah Shivaya
- Meaning: “Salutations to Lord Shiva”
- Shiva symbolizes the transformation and destruction of our negative tendencies, the transition to one state to another.
- Shiva is the god of yogis, ascetics, magicians… He can also be associated with music.
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
- Meaning: “Salutations to Lord Vasudeva (Krishna)”
- Krishna is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is said to be the author of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, one of the main sacred text in Hindu philosophy.
- Krishna is very popular in India and is associated with love, philosophical teaching, joy, arts and music.
Om Dum Durgayai Namaha
- Meaning: “Salutations to Durga”.
- Durga, feminine counterpart of Lord Shiva, is part of the Devis Trinity along with Lakshmi, counterpart of Vishnu, and Saraswati, counterpart of Brahma.
- Durga represents the Divine Mother in a warrior aspect.
Mantras without attribute (Nirguna)
- OM is the universal mantra, the sacred Verb from the beginning of times.
- OM is composed of the letters A, symbol of the waking state, U, symbol of the dream state, and M, symbol of the deep sleep state.
- Meaning: “I am That”. This is a reference to the immutable and eternal reality of the Self.
- This mantra is an affirmation of the existence and supremacy of the immortal Soul, compared to the perishable physical, emotional and mental aspects of our being. It leads the practitioner to no longer identify with his body, emotions and thoughts in order to perceive the presence of the Self which exists behind all manifestations.
Aham Brahma Asmi
- Meaning: “I am Brahman”. This mantra is one of the great proclamations of Vedanta. Through its repetition, the practitioner identifies with Brahman, the Great Intelligence behind all creation, rather than with the limited reality of the body and mind.
- You’ll need a mala, or a rosary, with 108 beads.
- Sitting in meditation posture, back straight, neck in line with the spine, eyes closed, hands on the knees or together on the ankles.
- Repeat mentally the selected mantra.
- For each repetition, count one bead.
- Perform one mala minimum, or 108 repetitions.
- With a concrete mantra related to a deity, cultivate a feeling of devotion during the repetition.
- With an abstract mantra, try to really grasp the profound meaning of the mantra during repetition.
- Increases concentration power.
- Calms down the mind.
- Reduces the amplitude and frequency of brain waves.
- Regulates the cardiac rhythm.
- Relaxes the brain and the nerves.
- Increases the nervous resistance to stress.
- Deeply relaxes the entire organism.
- Regulates sleep cycles.
- Generates joy and a profound inner soothing effect.