MEDITATION WITH A MANTRA (JAPA)
A mantra is a sacred sound, a sound structure that contains in a latent state a potential energy that can be released through verbal or mental repetition. Japa Yoga is the science of mantra repetition. Mantras can be abstract, without attributes (nirguna), or concrete, with attributes (saguna). The choice of a mantra depends on the nature of the practitioner and his inclination. Ideally, it should be received through formal mantra initiation from a spiritual teacher. If one does not have a personal mantra, it is then possible to choose a mantra for which an affinity is naturally felt. Here are some of the main mantras and their meaning.
Mantras with attributes (Saguna)
Om Namo Narayanaya
- Meaning : “Salutations to Lord Narayana (Vishnu)”
- Vishnu, the Preserver, is one of the members of the Trinity, along with Brahma, the Creator, and Shiva, the Destroyer.
- Vishnu represents peace, preservation of values and integrity of the world. He is the great Teacher. Rama and Krishna are divine incarnations of Vishnu.
Om Namah Sivaya
- Meaning : “Salutations to Lord Shiva”
- Shiva symbolizes transformation and destruction of our lower tendencies, transition from one state to another.
- Shiva is the god of Yogis, ascetics, alchemists and magicians. He is also associated to music and dance.
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
- Meaning : “Salutations to Lord Vasudeva (Krishna)”
- Krishna is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is the author of the Baghavad Gita, central text in Hindu and Yoga philosophy.
- Krishna is very popular in India and is associated with love, joy, philosophical teaching, art and music.
Om Dum Durgayai Namaha
- Meaning : “Salutations to Durga”.
- Durga is the counterpart of Lord Shiva. She is part of the Trinity of the Mothers along with Lakshmi, Vishnu’s counterpart, and Saraswati, Brahma’s counterpart.
- Durga represents the warrior aspect of the Divine Mother, protecting her beloved children.
Mantras without attribute (Nirguna)
- OM is the universal mantra, the word from which creation occurred in the beginning of times.
- OM is composed of letters A, symbol of waking state, U, symbol of dream state, and M, symbol of deep sleep state.
- Meaning : “I am what I am”. This is a reference to the immutable and eternal reality of our true Self.
- This powerful mantra proclaims the existence and supremacy of the Soul compared to the physical, emotional and mental limited aspects of our being. Through its repetition, the practitioner is led to not identify anymore with his body, emotions and thoughts, but on the contrary to discern the presence of the Self behind all manifestations.
Aham Brahma Asmi
- Meaning : “I am Brahman”.
- This is one of the great affirmations of Vedanta, through which the practitioner identifies himself with Brahman, the Great Intelligence behind all creation, instead of identifying with the limited reality of the body and the mind.
- Use a mala, or rosary with 108 grains.
- Sitting in meditation posture, back straight, neck in line with the spine, eyes closed, hands together or on the knees.
- Repeat mentally the mantra
- Each repetition, count one grain.
- Do minimum one mala, or 108 repetitions.
- When repeating a concrete mantra related to a deity, cultivate a feeling of devotion during repetition.
- With an abstract mantra, try to really feel and understand the deep meaning of the mantra during repetition.
- Increases power of concentration.
- Calms down the mind.
- Reduces amplitude and frequency of brain waves.
- Regulates heart beat.
- Relaxes the brain and the nerves.
- Increases nervous resistance to stress
- Relaxes the entire organism in depth.
- Regulates sleep cycles.
- Brings joy and a deep feeling of inner peace.