(LONDON) por Paula Tooths
The Power of Mantra
A mantra is a word or series of words chanted aloud or silently to invoke spiritual qualities. Chanting is used as a spiritual tool in virtually every cultural and religious tradition. In the yogic tradition a mantra is a Sanskrit word that has special powers to transform mind, body and spirit. Translated, mantra means, “that which when reflected upon gives liberation.” Mantras are unique mystical formulas of sacred syllables, which were originally revealed to the Rishis (seers or sages) in the deepest states of meditation. Mantras were one of the earliest components of yoga and are quite possibly the first type of meditation that was developed.
There are three main types of mantras, Bija (seed), Saguna (with form), and Nirguna (without form). The Bija mantras can be used individually, but are most often incorporated into Saguna mantras to invest them with a special “seed” power. The Bija mantras correlate to the 7 chakras and to the main Hindu deities. The Saguna mantras invoke the forms of the individual deities or personalized aspects of God. It is said that the recitation of the Saguna mantras gives rise to the actual form of the particular deity, thus manifesting its power.
The Nirguna mantras originate from the Vedic texts and are thus the oldest mantras of the three types. As no deities or personalized aspects of God are invoked with these mantras, they are very difficult to interpret and are considered to not have a specific form or meaning to them. These mantras are said to have their identification with all the creation, and contain the fundamental truths in yogic philosophy. It is said that the mind must be very strong to be able to concentrate on the abstract Nirguna mantras, and thus they are not recommended for beginning students .
As each mantra invokes a precise power, they can be used for very specific purposes: spiritual development, the healing of diseases, and for the attainment of worldly desires. When combined with the user’s intention, mantras can become even more targeted and empowered. The mantras are said to increase in power in direct relationship to the number of times repeated. A mantra is fully empowered by becoming “seated” in the heart after 125,000 repetitions, achieving what is called Mantra Siddhi.
The practice of chanting a mantra is considered the easiest form of meditation. Sitting in a comfortable position, with the eyes closed, the mantra is repeated silently or aloud. Pay careful attention to the speed and rhythm of your chanting, the correct pronunciation, aim, and esoteric meaning of the mantra. Allow the mind to be focused on the mantra, letting the thoughts go and maintaining a slow and deep breath. A Mala (string of beads) can be used to count series of 108 repetitions of the mantra.
Like prayer and affirmation the repetitious use of mantra can have powerful effects on the mind, body, spirit and emotions. Mentally, mantra meditation increases concentration, and improves memory and focus. Physically, mantra meditation lowers the heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and activates the relaxation response to allow healing and rejuvenation to occur. Mantra meditation builds self-confidence and self-empowerment, reduces stress and balances the emotions. Spiritually, mantras are said to dissolve one’s bad karma, produce jnana (wisdom) and are considered one of the many yogic paths towards self-realization.
ღ Did you know?
Over two-thirds of the worlds population use prayer beads as part of their spiritual practice. Prayer beads are known as malas in Asia, subha in the Middle East, and rosaries in the West.
What is a Japa Mala?
Mala beads are a string of beads used to count mantras (Sanskrit prayers) in sets of 27, 56 or 108 repetitions. The large meru (mountain) bead provides a starting and ending point on the mala for counting the repetitions. Mala beads are an ancient tool that was developed to keep the mind focused on the practice of meditation.
Mala beads are seen in other cultures and religions and are also known as prayer beads, rosary beads and worry beads. Over two-thirds of the world’s population employ some type of prayer beads as part of their spiritual practice. The use of beads in prayer appears to have originated around the 8th century B.C.E. in India.
Mala beads are typically made out of different materials, and the properties of the beads are said to have specific energetic effects. Different spiritual practices and religious traditions historically have used beads of a specific material.
Mala is a Sanskrit word meaning garland. Japa means recitation, and it is traditionally used as an adjective and combined to form Japa Mala (prayer beads for meditation). Japa mala was adopted into other languages as the use and popularity of prayer beads spread. When the Romans invaded India, they mistook japa for jap, the Latin word for rose. Upon returning to Rome, mala beads were referred to as rosarium and later became known as rosary beads in English.
How to Use a Mala
A Mala is a string of beads used to count mantras (Sanskrit prayers) in sets of 108 repetitions.
A mantra is a word or series of words chanted aloud or silently to invoke spiritual qualities. Chanting is used as a spiritual tool in virtually every cultural and religious tradition. In the yogic tradition a mantra is a Sanskrit word that has special powers to transform consciousness, promote healing or fulfill desires.
The practice of chanting a mantra is used as a form of meditation. Sitting in a comfortable position, with the eyes closed, the mantra is repeated silently or aloud. The mind is focused on the mantra, the thoughts are let go of and the breath is slow and deep.
Hold your mala in your right hand (in India the left hand is considered impure) and use your thumb to “count” each mantra by touching the bead during the recitation and then lightly pulling the bead towards you on completion and moving to the next bead. The index finger is extended and should not touch the mala. The large meru (mountain) bead should not be counted or touched by the thumb and is used as a starting and ending point of the recitation. If you have a wrist mala of 27 beads you will need to repeat this 3 more times. Continue by pulling the beads and going backwards until you again end at the meru and continue until you have done 108 repetitions, or multiples of 108.
To empower the mala and the mantra used, japa (mantra meditation) should be practiced each day for 40 continuous days. When the mala becomes empowered it can be worn or lightly placed on oneself or others to transmit the energy of the mantra as well as the energetic qualities of the mala. When you use a new mantra with a mala, this energy becomes replaced, so it is recommended to use a new mala with each mantra if possible.
When not in use, store your mala in a special, clean and preferably sacred space. The best place to store a mala is on a personal alter or statue of a deity.
ღ Choosing a Mantra
A mantra is either given to you by a teacher or chosen by yourself. When selecting a mantra, be clear on what your intention is, and use your intuition over your intellect. You may want to try out each mantra for a few repetitions to see how it feels to you and choose the one that feels like it fits best for you.
ॐ Namaste ॐ