I grew up in an Orthodox family, and religion has interested me since I was little. I don’t know why, but it seemed like an intriguing subject to me. Also, I liked asking many questions and contesting the things I was hearing or reading about.
After I got in contact with other religions, I began to see some patterns that started to confirm some ideas I had begun to form in connection with God, life, self and religion.
Now, after many years of internal and external research, I can’t identify myself with a specific religion and with all of them at the same time. A paradox, yes. In essence, they all speak about the same thing; a supreme loving reality from which we all came, that is in all of us and with whom we will all reconnect at some point.
So I decided to accept all religions and take everything I could that would bring me closer to understanding myself and this indescribable entity that some of us call God.
How I started with mantras
I first heard about mantras many years ago and tried to practice it in a few meditations. But without a clear understanding of it, it left my memory as quickly as it came.
After listening to Eknath Easwaran’s book, The Mantram Handbook, I was able to understand what a mantra really means, how simple it is to practice, and how powerful it can be.
For me, Rama, Rama, Rama resonated the most. It seemed effortless to memorize it and to say it in my mind. Especially in the moments I feel angry, upset, or overwhelmed.
During my pregnancy with Tara, I had some really intense moments in which I felt so sad and cried from the deepest of my being. In those moments, Rama, Rama, and deep breaths were my only comfort. And they worked. I managed to shift my state of mind and regain calm and peace of mind.
So, what is a mantra?
The word mantra is derived from two Sanskrit words—manas (mind) and tra (tool). So mantra literally means “a tool for the mind” and was designed to help practitioners access their higher power and their true nature.
“Mantra is a sound vibration through which we mindfully focus our thoughts, our feelings, and our highest intention” says music artist Girish, author of Music and Mantras: The Yoga of Mindful Singing for Health, Happiness, Peace & Prosperity.
Sally Kempton, a meditation teacher and author of Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience said, “Over time, that vibration sinks deeper and deeper into your consciousness, helping you to eventually feel its presence as shakti—a powerful, if subtle, force working inside each of us that carries us into a deeper state of awareness.”
For me, a mantra is a way of bringing myself into presence—a method of calming my mind that gives me time to think about other possible reactions or no reactions to different situations I find myself.
I often see myself when Arun is challenging my patience, how I get annoyed and how a few moments later, after I say the mantra in my mind, I regain my senses. It’s pretty annoying in a way because your anger wants to come out to the surface sometimes, but then you discover you have the power to transform it because you saw it. So it creates a feeling of restraint that sometimes feels like you are applying the handbrake as you go at high speed.
But, in the end, it is such a powerful feeling to be able to stop yourself from having different reactions or saying words that you usually regret the moment they came out of your mouth.
In a study published recently in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, researchers from Linköping University in Sweden measured activity in a region of the brain called the default mode network. This is the area active during self-reflection and mind wandering.
They were looking to determine how practising mantra meditation affects the brain. An overreactive default mode network can mean that the brain is constantly distracted, restless, or not centred as it should be.
Rozalyn Simon, Ph.D., who authored the study, communicated that “the study indicates that mantra training can more effectively reduce default mode network–related distractions than something like tapping along to the beat.”
Here are some benefits of saying the mantra regularly:
- reduces stress, eliminates the risks of getting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases,
- slows down the heart rate, and decreases blood pressure levels.
- relaxes the mind, which leads to lower consumption of oxygen.
- clears the clutter of the mind and calms down the nervous system.
- regenerates the body through deep sleep.
- strengthens the will.
Mantras – God has many names
Even though the studies suggest that we will get the results we want, as long as we repeat something with focused attention, I tend to resonate more with what Eknath Easwaran says.
“It is important to take into account your own background, your response to the meaning, and the practical significance of the words. Choose a mantra from one of the established traditions and recommended by a spiritual teacher with personal experience of its power.”
In other words, mantras that were used for many centuries and by great spiritual teachers like Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, or Saint Francis of Assisi are more profound and powerful.
I believe Univers, Allah, Atman, Consciousness, Shiva, Brahman, Divine Feminine, Divine Mother, and so on are all the same God addressed by a different name in different lands and different ages.
Below is a list of simple and powerful mantras and their meanings from which you can choose. Take your time in doing so.
OM – ॐ
Universal sound, the actual vibration representing birth, death and the process of rebirth. According to the ancient sages, it is the so-called cosmic sound, the creative word from which the entire universe of stars and seas, plants and animals and human beings evolved.
The name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew name Yeshua/Y’shua which is based on the Semitic root y-š-ʕ (Hebrew: ישע), meaning “to deliver; to rescue.” This mantra can help us become more like Jesus Christos– full of wisdom, mercy, and love.
A very powerful mantra that is coded in the infinite love of Mother Mary. This mantra can help us obtain great grace.
Om mani padme hum
This mantra refers to the “jewel in the lotus of the heart.” This jewel is the permanent treasure of joy and security hidden deep within us, waiting to be discovered.
This mantra is one of the simplest, most powerful, and most famous mantras. The name comes from the Sanskrit root “ram,” which means “to rejoice.” Rama means “he who fills us with abiding joy.” By repeating this mantram, we are reminding ourselves of the source of abiding joy that lives deep within us.
The meaning of the name is “he who draws us to himself.” In the traditional Hindu language, the Godhead has three functions: creation, preservation, and destruction. Krishna is the complete form of God as the preserver or saviour of the universe.
Barukh attah Adonai
The meaning of the mantra is “Blessed art thou, O Lord.” where The Lord is the source of all strength, all courage, all joy, and all love.
Ribono shel olam
The meaning of the mantra is “Lord of the Universe.” The whole of creation is his; our lives rest in his hands.
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim
The mantram means “In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate.” Once we set our hearts on becoming united with him, the burden of our past mistakes will disappear.
Allah or Allahu akbar
“God is great” are also powerful mantras that remind us about the unity of life. It gives us the assurance that we will find our joy in contributing to the joy of those around us.
Hare Rama Hare Rama,
Rama Rama Hare Hare,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna,
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.
This mantra combines three names of the Lord: Rama, Krishna and Hare. Where Hare means “he who steals our hearts.”
How to practice these mantras
There are many ways to say the mantra – you can sing it, write it, recite it loudly. Also you can listen to it if it’s sung by someone else. Or you can record yourself and listen to the record when you can.
Yet, the mantra is most effective when we say it silently, in the mind, with as much concentration as possible. Repeat your mantra silently whenever you get the chance. I say the mantra while taking a walk, waiting for the bus , when I get angry or doing mechanical chores. Very importantly is to say the mantra, when I you fall asleep.
I know we are all different and that we resonate with different things and practices. Still, I ask that you do not say, “It’s not for me,” until you try working with a mantra.
I believe the most transformational practices are the simplest ones and only need our presence and attention.
I hope you will find a mantra that will bring peace of mind, abundance and many blessings in your life. The same as Rama, Rama has brought blessings in my life and in the lives of many.
Remember to love yourself,