Mantra is a word that means “that which frees the mind”, and Japa (or mantra) yoga is the practice of projecting the mind into a repeated word or phrase imbued with spiritual significance. One of the most universally known is the OM, but there are thousands of mantras ranging from one syllable to complete spiritual text recitation, each with very specific uses and purposes.
Japa yoga may not be as popular in the West as asana (or postural yoga), but is in fact, much older and steeped in tradition that many would say is an intergral part of a complete yogic practice. Those who feel meditation is too difficult may find mantra recitation to be their doorway into quiet mind. They work on multiple levels of being, making them incredibly powerful.
Mantras help to focus the mind, aiding memory and concentration. Because they are vibratory, they can elevate our physical being and surroundings as well, reducing stress and even lowering blood pressure. Scientifically speaking, mantras can activate and stimluate the glands in the upper chest, throat and brain, improving the body’s chemical state. Furthermore, mantras create a palpable spiritual force around the practitioner to dissolve negative traits and increase self-empowerment. Besides the practice feels good and it’s fun!
Practices vary from one tradition to the next, so if one style isn’t suitable, another may feel just right. Some mantras are recited silently to one’s self and others are chanted aloud, either with or without accompanying melody or instrumentation. Some are quite easy to learn and others take some time to integrate and may even integrate mudra (or hand gestures).
If you ever feel at wits’ end with stress, 3 to 11 minutes of a well-chosen mantra can alter your state like nothing else and it’s completely safe. Try it and see for yourself. One of my favorite mantras comes from the Kundalini yoga tradition and contains the syllables RA, MA, DA, SA, SAY, SO and HUNG. Known as the Siri Gaitri Mantra, it is simple to learn and considered a sacred healing meditation that calls upon the energies of the sun, moon, earth, and the Infinite Spirit. You can listen to this impeccably beautiful version here by Mirabai Ceiba and see for yourself.
Starting September 28th, I am offering an hour long chants and mantras practice at my studio here in Brossac. We’ll be learning technique and mantras from Hindu, Tibetan, and Sikh traditions to raise our vibratory frequency and bring healing to body, mind and spirit. No experience necessary. It’ll be “by donation” and open to speakers of all languages and all qualities of voices, from the tone-deaf to the trained. You’ll love the way you feel. Contact me for more information.