What is a Mantra? - By Miranda Lewis
Have you been to a yoga class and heard the word mantra, and not had the foggiest? This article will hopefully make the meaning of mantra clear.
Mantra is a Sanskrit word. Man means mind and tra is the root of the word traverse, to travel across. Put them together and we have a basic meaning of mantra – a tool which helps us to travel across the mind to a place of stillness. Traditional mantras are in Sanskrit. My favourite is lokah samastha sukhino bhavanthu, which means may all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may my thoughts words and actions in some way contribute to the happiness and freedom of all.
Mantra is traditionally chanted in a call and response manner. The reason for this is that the ancient texts were not written down they were learnt in this call and response manner. Mantras do not have to be chanted though, they can be silently repeated in your head. By repeating a word (such as om) or a phrase (such as lokah samastha sukhino bhavanthu) it is considered to create a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness, some mantras are considered so sacred that just by chanting the phrase you experience transformation. But even if that does not appear true for you, by repeating something over and over you give the mind something to focus on, which will help to keep nonsense babble at bay.
A mantra does not have to be repeated in Sanskrit, it can be in any language, a really simple and effective mantra is to repeat ‘let go’ – ‘let’ on the inhale ‘go’ on the exhale. There are a plethora of mantras that can be used so experiment and see what works for you.
By Miranda Lewis - www.privateyogaclasses.co.uk