If you've ever seen (either in person or on television) a glass shatter in reaction to a high pitch, then you've witnessed how sound can change molecules. This happens because Crystal glasses particularly are unable to hold their molecules together when the waves of sound bump into them. Much as how water will expand out in waves when a stone is thrown into a pond, sound waves, too, expand out as waves of energy.
And surely you've listened to a song and had an emotional response to it - whether sadness, nostalgia, energy, affection, or something else - which further shows how sound can change the way we feel. For centuries, seers and gurus have used the power of mantras and chanting to improve their mind-body connection and create change in their reality.
What Is A Mantra?
A mantra is a powerful phrase or utterance that has personal or spiritual significance to the one speaking it. A mantra can be an ancient Sanskrit utterance or a personal statement that is repeated to help clear the mind, hold intention, calm the body, promote healing, aid in meditation, or help bring the body into alignment. The sound vibrations created by mantras are understood to change energy at all levels of existence and some can be utilized to realign the seven chakras.
Mantras Vs. Chants: What is The Difference?
A Mantra is the repetition of a sound or utterance. A Chant is a prayer or song to honor a specific god. Both, however, serve to create a sound that changes the energy within and around you.
How Do Mantras Work?
Put simply, mantras help stimulate the vagus nerve - one of the body's longest nerves - that runs from the brain stem to the abdomen. Along the way, it sends "messages" to important organs in the body such as the heart and lungs, and is a large part of our body's parasympathetic nervous system which helps regulate things like mood, respirations, heart rate, etc.
The body has two nervous systems that operate by order of external stimulation. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our "fight or flight" reactions. By comparison, the parasympathetic nervous system is a "rest and digest" system that allows our bodies and minds to relax. Science tells us that the Vagus Nerve oversees many crucial bodily functions including, "control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate" as well as helping the brain to monitor gastrointestinal issues.
When meditating, doing mantras, or chanting, the Vagus Nerve works backwards by sending a message to the brain to calm down, rather than the other way around (the brain sending signals to the nerve). With mindfulness and meditation, we are sending the message to our organs that everything is okay and we are safe and there is no need for fight or flight which activates our parasympathetic nervous system so we can rest our minds. When in this state, we are better able to have deeper thoughts and higher levels of connection.
Popular Sacred Mantras
There are many sacred mantras that are rooted in the Sanskrit language but one important part of mantras is to understand they should be properly pronounced according to yogi, mystic and visionary Sadhguru and individuals who are attempting mantras, should do so with awareness. He teaches that mantras are very powerful sound waves that - depending on which ones you use - activate a particular kind of energy in a different part of the body. Mantras can be monosyllabic (using only one syllable) or a string of more than 60 syllables which creates a mantric verse.
All ancient Mantras have significant meanings but some can be tricky to pronounce and many yogis and practitioners caution that individuals who practice mantras should be familiar with the proper sounds, pronunciations, purpose and intention of their chosen mantras.
You don't need to be a linguist, however, to recite powerful and meaningful mantras. The purpose of a mantra is to elevate your energy so you can transcend and become a part of pure consciousness. This means you can choose a phrase that is personal to you, to repeat as much or as little as you wish. Your personal mantra could be, "I am love" or "I am beautiful." It doesn't have to be in ancient Sanskrit to be an effective way to center your mind.
If a person has no tongue, they will be able to make only three basic sounds: "aaa", "ouuu", and "mmm" which are the only three True sounds from where all sounds come. When we use our tongues, it manipulates the sounds creating more sounds, just as there are primary colors from which all colors are created. Om (pronounced "AUM") is said to be the first sound of creation and is representative of all things in existence. Research has found that the "chanting of AUM mantra on regular basis restores the balance of the body at physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level," provides a "connection with the divine energy that would develop intuition, enhance creativity, increase energy level in the body and increase performance at the workplace," and "brings clarity in mind, increases self-awareness, greater ability to be associated with the world," among other amazing things.
Om Sāntiḥ Sāntiḥ Sāntiḥ
Pronounced, "AUM Shanti Shanti Shanti," this powerful chant calls for peace and happiness for everyone.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Similar to the Shanti Shanti Shanti mantra, this Sanskrit mantra asks for happiness everyone for everyone and that the individual using it, contribute to the freedom and happiness of others.
Om Namah Shivaya
Pronounced, "OM Na-Ma-See-Vaa-Ya," this mantra is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the strongest and most powerful of Gods in the Hindi trinity (the other two are Brahma and Vishnu). Shiva is known as the God of destruction and transformation and Om Namah Shivaya means I bow to (or adore) Lord Shiva. However, according to vedicfeed, Om Namah Shivaya also means:
Utilizing the five elements of creation, they put the meaning as "Universal Consciousness is One."
Om Mani Padme Hum
This is among the most popular of Buddhist Monks' mantras according to darma-haven.org. It's believed not only spoken aloud, but also spoken silently inside and even reading this mantra calls for the invocation of the great Chenrezig who is the embodiment of compassion. He is reported to listen to all of the prayers and challenges of sentient beings with "an unwavering eye."
There are many benefits to understanding and using mantras and there are countless more to try and practice. During meditation, mantras can help you focus and stay centered and have also been reported to have immediate health benefits. By utilizing the vast and wonderous sounds of the universe, we can elevate ourselves and transcend into pure consciousness, becoming a part of The Whole.