A mantra is a sound, letter, syllable, word, phrase or sentence, or a sound of a spiritual power. Mantras are meant to resonate within the body when repeated rhythmically in Japa – the meditative practice of mantra chanting. Mantras are incantory and spiritual. When they are repeated, either mentally (as in Transcendental Meditation), or aloud in Japa, they become a form of concentrative meditation, so characteristic of Yoga meditation. The vibrations produced by the sacred sounds, are considered to have the ability to connect the vibrational field of the practitioner with that of the universe and ultimately with the supreme consciousness, the divine, which is the highest goal of Yoga and meditation.
The mantras of Indian Yoga are usually Sanskrit sounds or phrases. Their meaning is spiritually potent, which in turn enhances the meditative experience. Even if the meaning is unclear, the very sounds themselves clear the mind of any verbal associations, promoting serenity and peace of mind.
Examples of mantras include:
OM (AUM), the most famous and powerful mantra;
SO HUM, meaning ‘He is I’, relating to the unity with the universal creative force;
OM NAMAH SIVAYA, meaning: the same energy that destroys the lower self (the ego), builds the higher self (the spirit)
GAYATRI MANTRA, among all the mantras, the Gayatri Mantra is considered to be the essence of all mantras as it contains all spiritual powers hidden within it. The Gayatri Mantra is meditation on spiritual light (God represented as the sun), specifically to enlighten the intellect. When the intellect is illuminated, it inspires the mind to find the path to knowledge, love and kindness. It is recommended to practise this mantra in the morning.
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